5 Data-Backed Ways to Build Rapport with Prospects and Clients

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Erin Rodrigue
Erin Rodrigue


Salespeople have a PR problem. While most don't fit the "swindling car salesman" stereotype, buyers still feel a level of mistrust, even if they don't have a valid reason.

business women shaking hands with prospect

As a result, many reps work overtime to prove to customers that they have their best interests in mind. But what if there was an easier way to build rapport — one backed by data?

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Here, we'll cover 5 data-backed tips to build rapport and establish trust with both prospects and clients.

1. Become a trusted advisor — not a pushy salesperson.

These days, buyers aren't that impressed with the bells and whistles of a product or service — instead, they want to know if you can solve their problems.

In fact, according to a recent HubSpot Blog survey of 1,000+ sales reps, more than a quarter (27%) believe selling has become more focused on presenting solutions rather than pitching products. 

sales pitching stat 2022

So, this leaves one important question: how well do you know your prospects' problems? 

For instance, if you ask great questions but never build on them, your relationships will be less substantive and more shallow. Instead, ask prospects questions, listen actively, and take a genuine interest in making their lives easier. The ultimate goal is for your prospects to see you as a trusted advisor — not a pushy salesperson.

2. Boost your customers' confidence.

It's not enough to increase confidence in your products or services — you also need to increase your customer's confidence, specifically in their ability to make smart buying decisions.

According to a report by Gartner, customers who are confident in their decision-making skills are 2.6x more likely to make a purchase.

Customer confidence quoteThink about it: in an age of information overload, prospects are overwhelmed and highly susceptible to choice paralysis. Or, maybe they've been tricked or goated into a past purchase they regret.

So, how can you instill confidence? Start at the beginning of the buyer journey, when you first make contact. Provide the right information — through the right channels — to streamline the process.

But it doesn't stop there — now the buyers are left to make sense of the information. During this step, it's essential to be a resource. Encourage questions, listen to concerns, and offer support. In doing so, prospects are less likely to play "safe" by making a smaller purchase than previously planned.

3. Need to build rapport remotely? Pick up the phone.

36% of sales reps believe remote selling is less effective than selling in-person.

Selling in a remote environment certainly has its challenges. Not only do you need to find the best vehicle for communicating with customers and prospects (ex: email, phone, text, etc.), but you also need to build rapport from miles away.

First, let's explore how you should communicate. According to our report, picking up the phone is the most effective channel for remote selling.

remote sellingWhen it comes to cold outreach, phone calls also take first place. In fact, more than half (51%) of sales reps find cold calling more effective than reaching out via social media, email, or text.

Second, while building rapport remotely is different than in-person, many of the same "rules" apply: be on time, set a clear agenda, ask thoughtful questions, express genuine interest, and do your research ahead of time. 

And remember: building rapport is all about establishing value from conversations. If you can effectively communicate the value of your product or service, it will be unmistakeable — regardless of whether you're sitting across the table from a prospect or hundreds of miles away.

4. Leverage the power of personalization.

To state the obvious, no two companies are the same. Rarely, if ever, will you find two companies with the same pain points, needs, and challenges. So why would you communicate with them using the same cookie-cutter script?

26% of sales reps say personalization is a must in 2022. This means tailoring your communication to each prospect or customer, which shows you've done your homework. 

sales personalization stat 2022

That said, there aren't enough hours in the day to perform a deep dive on every prospect — especially if you're working through a long list. But you don't have to start from scratch, either. This is where your buyer personas come in clutch. 

Buyer personas describe the demographics, behavior patterns, and motivations of prospects based on data from your customer base. This enables you to better understand who they are and what they care about.

For example, salespeople are all about their numbers, hitting targets, and exceeding their quota. On the other hand, executives focus on strategic advantage, growing the business, understanding competitive landscapes, and identifying blockers to growth.

Each of these personas cares about different things, so tailor your approach accordingly.

5. Find (real) common ground.

Finding common ground with a prospect or customer is a relatively easy way to build rapport — and you can start from the very first interaction. 

However, a word of caution here: make sure the common ground is real. Don't sit back and agree with everyone on everything. People can quickly sniff out whether you're being disingenuous or not.

Also, while there's room for friendly bickering over trivial things — like sports teams or which coffee shop is best in town — stay alert if the conversation moves to touchier topics, like politics or personal relationships. If this happens, steer the chat back on track. 

All this to say, it's crucial to connect with prospects and clients, but always keep it professional.

Back to You

Sales reps sink or swim by their ability to communicate, build rapport, and establish trust. Use the tips in this article as a starting point, and remember: building rapport is all about providing value from conversations. When you truly understand your customer's problems, you can maximize your value.

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