Here I will be looking at how to effectively rapport build with a new prospect. I will also be looking at some traditional rapport building techniques and why they might in fact be damaging your overall sales approach. I am not going to be dealing with body language and subconcious communication techniques.

Traditional Methods

The traditional(old-style) techniques largely relies on the salesperson making small talk with the client i.e. How was your weekend? Did you see the match? or an old favourite, How is business?

The theory behind this being that by making conversation and asking non-threatening questions about the prospects interests, the seller is able to get the prospect to relax and open up. Another perceived benefit of this approach is that it helps the prospect to like the seller during these initial conversations.

While there can sometimes be merit is these techniques , a lot of salesperson either feel awkward doing it or worse overcook it, trying to be the prospect�019s best friend. Another factor against using this technique in the B2B environment is time, a salesperson simply cannot afford to spend much time on anything other than talking business. You probably will only get one shot at pitching for this business so you need to spend any face-time wisely.

So what then is rapport building is really about?

Simply put, building rapport is about giving the prospect the confidence to trust you, the salesperson

Confidence to trust that you understand their business
Confidence to trust that you can understand their problems
Confidence to trust that you handle their account
Confidence to trust that you overcome any problems

So when does rapport building start?

It starts before you meet the client, do your homework , get to know as much as you can about their business. Rather than ask about their business as per the traditional approach, impress upon the prospect that you know about the big deal that they secured last month and how that it lightly to impact the business.

How do you build rapport in the first meeting?

After introducing yourself and your company, use the next few minutes to demonstrate what you know about their business, try to stay away from the obvious. Don�019t be afraid to tell the prospect that you have done some research. that's OK, what�019s going to be more important is that you took the time to find out.

Next, really try to understand where they are at as a company? Where do they see themselves going in the future? Have they any new products planned? new markets? etc etc. Demonstrate that you are interested in the overall picture not just the piece that applies to you and your product.

NLP- Neuro-linguistic programming

NLP is an advanced form of rapport building that works at a subconscious level. It is a complex subject and takes a lot of practice to perfect. Using NLP to build rapport is based on the concept on matching, in other words, we humans feel better around people who are similar to us. The NLP practitioner slowly attempts to match the body launguage and gestures of the prospect, the tome, pace of their voice, even the words that they use. As I said earlier, while effective, NLP takes time to master and anyone who is interested should go along to a course or read up on the subject.

Its Easy

Prospects often want to trust that a salesperson can provide them with a solution but Its up to the salesperson to provide this evidence.

Do your homework on the company
Demonstrate that you know lots about their business
And ask questions about more than the bit that relates to your product

If you do all three, you will have developed a initial rapport with the prospect and importantly a great start to a potential sale.

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Author's Bio: 

Niall Devitt is a training consultant, business mentor and facilitator with Beyond the Boardroom (website With over a decade of experience working as senior sales manager and trainer for some of Irelands top companies his expertise lies in creating and implementing performance driven sales programmes. Niall is regularly asked to contribute business articles and his advice has been published through the National Press and broadcast on Radio. Read more articles like this at