Rapport is a word that every sales professional should know. It describes the relationship between you and each prospective customer. If you are able to build up a good rapport with a prospect, you will have an understanding between you. The relationship may involve trust or sympathy, and the two of you will be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas well.

Why is rapport important in sales?

Rapport isn’t just important in the world of sales – it is everything. A customer won’t buy anything from you unless they trust you at least to some degree. They need to trust the information you’re providing in the first instance. It also really helps if a customer likes you, because it can make the experience enjoyable and encourage the person to let their guard down.

Having a good rapport with a customer means that you listen to their needs. Everyone wants to feel understood, and to have a space to discuss problems and pain points.

How to build rapport – 6 useful tips

Rapport building is a skill that takes time and practice to hone, but here are some useful tips to help you get started:

  1. Be sincere and genuine. Creating or adopting a persona, ‘faking’ friendliness and other insincere acts will not win your customer’s trust. They will most likely to see right through it. Try to relax and be yourself, bringing out the friendly and warm side of your personality.
  2. Be interested in the customer. Ask questions, even if slightly off-topic, and be a good, active listener – take a look here for the difference between active and passive listening. Take the time to understand what they want and need, and as always – be genuine.
  3. Be careful about trying to hard. This is another off-putting one for customers, as seeming too desperate for the sale can seem like you’re trying to force rapport.
  4. Be honest and put the customer’s needs first. If the product isn’t right for them (but another could be) then they’ll appreciate you being honest and upfront about it.
  5. Do your homework. It’s always smart to do a little research into your customer before calling or meeting them. This research, into the person and the company they work for you, will enable you to tailor your approach to suit the person. It also gives you an insight into the customer which can help to break the ice and ensure the conversation flows smoothly. As long as you don’t give away the extent of your research (which could be a bit much), the customer will be flattered that you’ve taken the time to find out about them.
  6. Try to get them to laugh. This is a brilliant ice-breaker, automatically making the customer warm to you. The experience becomes more enjoyable for everyone.

For support and training to develop essential sales skills such as this, consider joining the ISM as a member or contact us to find out more.