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How to Build Rapport in Sales and Connect with People

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

If you want to be a successful salesperson, you need to get comfortable with skepticism. Why? Because people have doubts about one another. In its Trust and Distrust in America report, Pew Research Center found that 71% of Americans think interpersonal confidence has worsened in the past two decades. Nearly half of Americans think the reason is unreliability.

For salespeople, it’s safe to assume that a certain level of skepticism is the norm.

It’s not all bad news, however. That same Pew Research report found that nearly six in 10 Americans think building confidence in each other is highly important. People want to trust each other, despite rampant skepticism. And people want to buy from people they know, like, and trust. The way to earn that status is to focus on building and maintaining relationships, and not only on the transactional nature of closing a deal.

The way to do it is to build rapport.

So, how do you build rapport with buyers? The first step is to make the time and space for it. Really! People can pick up on even subtle indicators of disinterest, boredom, or hurry. Be human and conversational. Say hello, make eye contact, and break the ice.

If you're meeting with multiple people, fill time with conversation while you wait for others to show up. Unless you can tell the buyer wants to jump into business with military precision, do what you can to build rapport early in your conversation.

But be careful to make a sincere connection. Too often, chit-chat seems contrived because it feels forced, generic, or superficial. To achieve a level of sincerity and build true rapport before, during, and after your calls and meetings, try these seven strategies.

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Rapport Building Isn't a Sales Script, It’s a Discipline

You can memorize all of the scripts, talk tracks, and scenarios you want. But you can’t script being yourself, showing real interest, or any of the other tips shared above. In many ways, these are intangible skills with tangible means of execution. And sometimes, the buyer still might not respond the way you want.

Building rapport is often a feel. It’s about instincts and emotional intelligence. And these qualities are developed over time by consistently applying some of the tips and tangibles we’ve listed above. If you’re wondering how to build better rapport in your sales relationships, change your approach and treat this particular skill like a discipline. Work on it. Hone it. Try, fail, and refine—over and over again.

Once you do that, you'll be well on your way to creating the lasting sales relationships you're looking for.


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Topics: Sales Conversations