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The Art of Building Rapport with Sales Prospects

Building rapport in sales is a great way to ensure your customers feel comfortable doing business with you. Spending time to get to know them also helps you understand their personalities, what challenges they are facing, and find ways to help them fix issues whilst generating profit for your business.

However, developing relationships in sales isn’t always easy, especially when prospective customers are hyper-aware of the fact that you are trying to sell to them. So, taking a considered approach to building rapport in sales is crucial to success.

In this article, we walk you through the best ways to build rapport and develop meaningful relationships in sales.

Do Your Research

Before you reach out to a prospective customer, do some research. With social media platforms like LinkedIn, detailed company websites, and industry-specific media it is now easier than ever to find out crucial information about potential clients without even leaving your desk.

The research you undertake will help you identify pain points and offer solutions that fully meet your customers’ needs. Knowing exactly the challenges they are hoping to solve will also allow you to use terminology that is understandable and resonates with them, making it easy for them to digest your points.

Undertaking customer research is also beneficial because it shows you care. Although you may not directly mention the fact that you have been looking into your prospect and their business, showing that you have key information to hand will highlight the fact that you have invested time and effort in trying to understand them.

Without diving too deep into private information, researching the individual and their circumstance will also help you talk to them in a way that feels familiar to them. For example, you may choose to use different terminology with a young, single male than you would with an older male with a family.

A woman in a library, reading a book and doing research

Show You Care

The easiest way to build rapport in sales is to show your prospects that you genuinely care about them and their needs.

Instead of seeing a prospective customer as an opportunity to make a sale, instead, view them as a human with problems that need solving. By working hard to help them solve their problems you will help build the trust needed for them to accept your advice when you suggest your solutions.

This approach is known as consultative selling, where the salesperson acts as a consultant by educating their prospects on all the options available to them in their specialist area.

Make it Personal

When building rapport with potential customers it is easy to get stuck in the trap of always focusing on them. Although it is important to research their needs and work hard to help solve their issues, it is important to remember that all relationships need to work in two ways.

By offering personal information about yourself, you build a picture of yourself as a human rather than as an agent of a corporate business. What information you offer will depend on your circumstances, but may include:

  • Your pain points as a business or individual
  • Your ambitions
  • Your interests and hobbies
  • General information such as weekend plans
A woman presenting to clients, all people are laughing showing a good relationship

Have a Sense of Humor

Guess who you’re selling to?


Laughing with someone is a great way to break down barriers and build rapport in sales.

How you choose to do this will depend widely on your personality. Don’t force humor that isn’t there, but also don’t feel you must pass up on an opportunity to make a light-hearted joke just because you’re in a business setting. Opt for clean jokes to maintain professionalism and as always, when it comes to humor, understanding your audience is key.

Note Down Key Dates

If you can build some rapport with your customers they will likely begin to share important dates with you. Noting down these dates can allow you to show that you care throughout the year. For example, sending an inexpensive birthday card can be a powerful tool to further building rapport.

Key dates worth remembering include:

  • Birthdays
  • Relevant holidays
  • Big business or personal achievements
  • Family milestones such as weddings

Sensitivity and understanding are crucial when it comes to key dates. For example, recognizing religious holidays may be appropriate in some cases, but not in others.

A woman checking a desk calendar and making notes

Consider Your Body Language

When it comes to physically meeting your prospective customers, it isn’t just what you say that will help you build great rapport. The way you hold and present yourself will tell the people you meet about your true thoughts and intentions.

Being open to those you meet will help create the lines of communication needed to build a great rapport. Your body language can say a lot about your openness. For example, crossing your arms and legs can appear as physical barriers and can make you appear standoffish.

Offer a Handshake

A good handshake can be a quick and immediate way to put those you meet at ease. It is an initial sign of friendship and mutual position, which can be used to great effect in building rapport.

Getting the balance in terms of the firmness of your grip is key. Too soft and you may appear as reluctant and unwilling, too firm and you can come across as overbearing and aggressive.

Offering your hand to shake first is a good way to open up a potential customer whilst also taking the lead on that conversation.

Maintain Eye Contact

Keeping eye contact is a crucial part of developing trust with people you meet. Failing to make eye contact can make it appear that you are trying to hide something or aren’t willing to make a connection.

Building Rapport in Sales

Building rapport is crucial to the longevity of sales success. Although taking a direct approach to sales may help you generate some short-term wins, you will need to replicate that effort every time you attempt to make a sale.

Building rapport makes it easier to sell over time and develops the trust you need to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

Want to learn more about building relationships in sales? Check out these blog posts: