According to Hubspot Research, only 3% of people consider sales reps to be trustworthy. If you want prospects to consider buying from you, first, you need to overcome that skepticism and win their trust. That’s where sales rapport comes in.
Building sales rapport is an essential part of the outbound sales process. If prospects don’t believe you’re telling the truth about your product, they’ll never convert into buyers. Keep reading for a proven system to establish rapport and win over skeptical prospects.
What is sales rapport?
On a basic level, sales rapport means that the prospect trusts you. They believe that what you’re telling them is the truth.
Once you build a rapport, you’ll have a better understanding of the prospect’s needs and, therefore, how to close the deal. You’ll also be more likely to form a long-term relationship, generate more referrals, and gain repeat business from that client.
With the overwhelming majority of people inherently skeptical of sales development reps, you must be intentional about creating credibility. Here are five proven steps to build sales rapport.
1. Do your research
A generic call script immediately tells the prospect that you’re more interested in hitting quota than solving their problems.
Instead, do enough research before the call to customize your pitch. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the individual’s role, company, and how your product or service could help them solve a problem.
Prospects will appreciate the time and effort you put in before picking up the phone. Doing your research shows the prospect that they’re not just another dial to you, and that you chose to connect with them for a reason.
2. Show genuine interest
The next step to building sales rapport is demonstrating genuine interest in the prospect by asking questions. Some sales development reps skip over personal subjects and get straight to business, but asking a few small talk questions can help the conversation flow more naturally.
Instead of jumping straight into their business needs, try asking about a recent holiday or congratulating them for an accomplishment they shared on LinkedIn.
Again, this shows you’ve done your research. It also creates a more human connection, which is the key to building sales rapport.
Active listening is one of the most important skills a salesperson can have. It’s not enough to simply pause and let the prospect fill the silence; you need to take a genuine interest in their response and demonstrate that you understand what they’ve said.
The easiest way to do this is to repeat what they’ve said back to them, then ask them to confirm your understanding (i.e., “What I’m hearing is…does that sound right?”).
By making this extra effort to understand the prospect’s situation, you can position yourself as a consultative salesperson–someone whose opinion they can rely on.
4. Shared experiences
The next step to building sales rapport is to capitalize on shared experiences or interests. Find common ground with your prospects, ideally something they’re passionate about, and you’ll build a much stronger connection.
We’re naturally drawn to people who are similar to us. A quick search of your prospect’s social media should help you find something to relate to, whether it’s a shared hobby, favorite sports team, or travel destination.
The key to building rapport here isn’t just finding this information but how you use it. Anyone can send a generic message about attending the same school. Tie this back to steps three and four by asking the prospect a question to show that you’re genuinely interested.
5. Read the prospect’s cues
Call scripts are great tools, but the best salespeople know when to deviate from the script. If the prospect says something that piques your curiosity, ask a follow-up question to dig deeper. Let the conversation flow naturally.
Wherever possible, try to mimic the prospect’s communication style. If they’re enthusiastic and friendly, mirror that energy back to them. If their emails are short and to the point, yours should be the same.
Your sales development process should be tailored to each prospect. The fastest way to build rapport is to hone in on what that particular prospect needs and adjust your selling style accordingly.
Can you teach reps how to build sales rapport?
Rapport may seem like a difficult subject to train in sales development reps. Still, with the right framework, you can make building rapport a non-negotiable part of your outbound sales strategy.
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