Career in Sales

6 Ways to Start Sales Conversations and Build Rapport With Prospects

Sales conversations are a delicate dance. On the one hand, they're technical—you're talking about products and services, after all. But on the other hand, they're intuitive—you must establish a connection with your prospect to convince them to buy your product or service.

How do you start a sales conversation? How do you express empathy for your prospect's challenges? And how do you know when it's time to move toward the close? You can't just start pitching the product or service to your prospect. Before you even get to that point, you need to build rapport.

That's right: before they even consider hearing what you have to say about their business, they need to like you. And if you've ever tried to sell anything before, you know how hard it is to get someone interested in what you're saying when the customer is not interested in YOU!

But building rapport isn't as hard as it seems. We've got some tips for making those sales conversations easier than ever. But before we get there, let's briefly discuss what rapport in sales means (and why you should care about it). 

What Is Rapport in Sales and Why Does It Matter?

What Is Rapport in Sales and Why Does It Matter

Building rapport with customers is essential for B2B sales. You can't just sell things to people; you must first build trust and establish a relationship.

According to HubSpot, only 3% of buyers trust salespeople. Buyers are wary of salespeople because they think salespeople just want a sale, and they don't trust them because they feel they are out for themselves and not them. That's why building rapport is so important - it helps buyers see that you care about them and their needs, not just closing a deal.

Here’s how great rapport with your prospects helps you make more sales.

1. You can easily learn about your customers' needs and interests to effectively tailor your pitch to them.

2. It allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of their industry and position yourself as an expert in that space. This helps the buyer feel like they can trust you and your company, which is a huge part of making a sale. 

3. If you build a strong relationship with your prospects, they are more likely to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Referrals are a blessing for B2B salespeople as they are easier to close and usually generate more revenue than new leads. 84% of the B2B buying process starts with a referral

6 Sales Conversation Tips to Build Rapport with Your Prospects

6 Sales Conversation Tips to Build Rapport with Your Prospects

1. Don't Skip the Small Talk 

Small talk, also known as phatic communication, is your best friend when trying to convert a warm lead into a sale. Phatic means functional, and it's a conversation hack that helps you overcome the initial awkwardness and makes it easier to know your potential customer on a deeper level. 

It's important to remember that small talk is about building trust and getting comfortable with each other so you can start moving towards the sale.

The key to having good small talk skills is being able to listen well. You also want to ask questions that will help draw out more information from them (and make them feel valued).

Once you successfully get through the icebreaking stage, they will probably like you a bit more than they did before—and that can make all the difference.

2. Share Stories

Sharing stories with prospects is one of the most powerful ways to build rapport with them, and it helps you connect emotionally. It's also a great way to create credibility by demonstrating an understanding of their problems or challenges. 

If done right, this can get people to open up about their business and aspirations, helping you fetch critical information that could help you close the sale. 

3. Ask Open-ended Questions 

Open-ended questions are questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." They require more than one sentence to answer and often start with who, what, when, why, or how. These questions help you get more information from your leads to understand their needs better

You can ask questions about their business, product needs, and more. Remember that it's not always easy for customers to answer these questions, so try not to rush them too much

4. Be Honest

Being honest is one of the best ways to start a sales conversation. Make your intentions clear from the beginning without sounding too eager. If someone asks what you're selling or why they should be interested in what you have to offer, tell them. Don't make them guess; it makes things more difficult for both parties involved.

5. Know What to Say, Know When to Listen

To make the conversation flow smoothly from the get-go, do your homework before the call so you can talk about what they're working on and their challenges. Be sure to understand and speak from their point of view.

Listen carefully, ask follow-up questions, and paraphrase what they told you to verify that you understand them correctly.

6. Use Empathy Statements

Empathy statements are a great way to start a conversation and build rapport with prospects, and they help establish common ground. You can use such statements during the initial sales call or at any time during the sales process.

Here are some examples of empathy statements:

1. "That must have been frustrating."

2. "Sounds like you've been putting in a lot of hours lately."

3. "I can imagine how difficult this must be for you."

4. "I'm sure you're overwhelmed by all the changes." 

Hone Your Sales Conversation Skills to Perfection

Once you have built rapport with your prospect, it will be easier for them to trust you and feel comfortable sharing information about their business goals and objectives. From here, it is simply a case of using this information to help them realise how your services can benefit their business and drive sales through increased confidence in your product. 

At Juno School of Business, you can learn the nuances of sales conversation experientially with the help of our sales experts. It is an interactive online school that provides solid core training to help you close sales more efficiently. To sharpen your sales conversation skills, apply today!

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