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Five Tips to Establish Rapport with Prospects and Clients

In my previous blog post I reviewed Why Building Rapport Matters.  As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, before you make that next call or meet that next prospect, take the time to think about how you will establish rapport.

Today, here are five tips to consider incorporating into your strategy to establish rapport and maintaining good relationships with clients:

Be Genuine

First and foremost, people can sense if you are faking interest, and they will be turned off right away. They make up their mind about who you are in the first minutes of an interaction. If they are not comfortable enough with you to trust your genuine interest, the relationship will be in trouble from the first conversation.

Find Commonality

Use social media tools like LinkedIn to find potential commonalities. Might your paths have crossed in a previous career? Did you work with someone the prospect has worked with? Did you go to the same school? Live in the same town? Beyond business commonalities, you may uncover personal commonalities, such as favourite bands, vacation spots or family ties. Not all touchpoints can be uncovered online; sometimes, it is a matter of having a natural dialogue and good listening skills. That was how I learned that I knew the cousin of a prospect that I spoke with recently. While discovering a common acquaintance won’t guarantee business, it does open the door and build a rapport.

Do Your Homework

Before I pursue a lead, the first thing I do is research. This gives me a baseline understanding of the company and my contact. I look at the company website. I read news releases and product announcements. I look for organisational changes and acquisitions. I look at executive bios and LinkedIn profiles. I search for industry articles and trends. All of this can be fodder for a good first conversation. And, prospects can be so appreciative that you have invested the time to do some homework that they are more agreeable with continuing the dialogue.

Make Rapport Building a Life Skill

When you build a rapport; it is the first step in Relating, which with Presence, Questioning, Listening, Positioning and Checking, forms Richardson Sales Performance’s Six Critical Skills for effective client dialogues. These are the foundational skills for interactions with prospects, clients, people that you coach and your direct reports. In fact, I even use these Six Critical Skills at home with my kids. I find these skills so imperative for a successful dialogue that I call them fundamental life skills. Frankly, they all contribute to building rapport, which makes them so important to incorporate into your life personally and professionally.

Laugh a Little

Sometimes on a call, the conversation will hit a lull, and I’ll just hear silence. That’s when I might say something and laugh a little, both to break things up and inject some energy. It doesn’t always work, but I have been lucky with this tactic thus far. I have a big laugh, and I tend to talk with my hands. So, sometimes, just describing that scenario over the phone can keep the ball rolling while making things more real.

For some sales professionals, establishing rapport requires some effort. Others come by it naturally. Either way, it is important to establish rapport at the outset. It can make all of the difference between a good relationship and a great one.

About the Author

As a Senior Account Executive, Karen Tilton works within Richardson’s Inside Sales Team to: focus on business development opportunities within the Middle Market, to expand Richardson’s more transactional account base and also manage and support Richardson’s most strategic client relationships to continue to grow and expand those relationships. In Karen’s role, she is responsible for effectively aligning Richardson solutions to client needs and ensuring that our solutions are successfully implemented for her clients. Karen has worked with clients such as: DLL, Bank of Montreal, Cummins, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ashland Chemical (Valvoline), Juniper Networks, DISH Network, Eisai Pharmaceuticals, SunGard Financial Systems, United Healthcare, and Union Bank of California.Karen has been with Richardson since 1994. Prior to joining the Sales Team, she was a Senior Account Director managing large-scale client engagements for Richardson’s most strategic clients and had previous roles in the organization such as Senior Sales Assistant and Contract Manager, supporting the sales team with prospect/client relationships and ensuring both the successful execution of all client agreements and NDAs from creation and submission to the timely receipt of all countersigned documents.

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