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Keys to Building Rapport with Sales Prospects

In order to be a consistent sales professional, it is critical to be effective at building rapport with sales prospects.  Below are ways to be more effective in this area to help drive sales effectiveness:

Respect the Prospects Time

Regardless of the level you are selling into, one thing that you should always assume is that the person you are selling to is very busy.  And with companies consolidating jobs, prospects are now busier than ever.  With that being the case, the time that you need from the prospect to manage your sales process is very valuable.  As a result, in order to build rapport, it is critical to show them that you respect their time.

By doing some of the below, you will easily communicate that you respect the sales prospect’s time and this will yield strong dividends in the area of rapport.

  • Ask if they have a minute, are in the middle of anything, or are available every time you call them.
  • At the beginning of every meeting, outline expectations in terms of focus and time, secure agreement. and then stick to the agreed time unless they chose to go over.
  • Build your meetings and timeline according to one that matches their availability and needs.

Seek to Understand in Order to be Understood

Dr. Stephen Covey has written on a concept of “Seek to understand in order to be understood”.  This concept is very powerful and can be used in any area where you are trying to build and maintain relationships.  When it comes to building rapport with sales prospects, this approach can be very effective.  As a sales person, you are very interested in having the prospect to understand you, what you have to offer, and why they should do business with you.  And following Dr. Covey’s philosophy, one way to help get them to understand you is to seek to understand them.

The first half of understanding your prospect comes from you learning about them by doing your research and homework.  But there is a second piece to that and that is effectively communicating to the prospect that you understand them.  This can be done by making presentations more about them then about you, sharing your knowledge of them in meeting minutes, and simply sharing in conversations that you understand the challenges that they are facing.  Consistently showing that you understand them will yield strong results when building rapport.


Watch the Level of Aggressiveness

As a sales professional, it can be a difficult line to walk between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough with sales prospects and sales opportunities.  While the right level of attention can be unclear and different from situation to situation, what is clear is that you do not want to be too aggressive when building rapport with sales prospects.  If you are too aggressive, you may still get the business but the prospect might not have a great level of rapport and comfort when dealing with you and this could impact referral and repeat business.

The best way to manage yourself in terms of how often to communicate and how hard to push with prospects is to get guidance directly from them as to what to do next and when.  If they say to call them back in two weeks and you call back then, then you are not being too aggressive as you are doing what they told you.  But if they say two months and you call back in three weeks, you are going to take a negative step in the area of building rapport.



Launch Pad Solutions, LLC helps sales professionals with building rapport through sales training.


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This article was published on Saturday 16 October, 2010.
Back to main topic: Sales Tips
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