How to Build Rapport With Prospects and Sales Colleagues Online

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Rebecca Riserbato
Rebecca Riserbato



Have you ever been in a virtual meeting and felt like there was a spotlight on you?

how to build rapport with prospects and sales colleagues online

You're not alone. Since nothing is subtle on camera, the spotlight effect is a normal feeling in remote meetings.

Having worked remotely for almost a year, I know that virtual meetings can feel awkward.

In fact, according to HubSpot's Remote Work Report, communication with co-workers and feelings of loneliness are challenges that remote workers face daily.

But for a sales rep, conducting online meetings are essential for building rapport with your prospects or sales colleagues.

Let's review how to build rapport with your prospects and sales colleagues in virtual meetings.

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Tips for Online Meetings with Prospects

1. Ensure your video is on.

Although this tip seems simple, it's important to keep your video on when you're in an online meeting.

Your video enables you to build connections with your prospects.

Sam Hamann, an inbound growth specialist at HubSpot, says, "It's helpful to have your video on because it shows prospects that you're a real human being with a smile. This allows for a better relationship as people tend to trust you more if they can see you."

Additionally, you can use non-verbal cues, such as smiling and nodding, to help you communicate and build rapport.

2. Find a personal connection.

When you're reaching out to any prospect, it's important to find a personal connection to help you build rapport.

This is especially true when you're communicating with potential customers online because video calls can feel less personal.

Colin Campbell, Director of Marketing at SalesHacker, says, "When you're not face-to-face with your work colleagues, prospects or customers, it's easy to fall into a transactional relationship rut: each of you just exchanging work you 'owe' to one another, without really getting to know each other as people. In the short term, it might feel efficient to cut the chit-chat, but over time you'll find it's actually harder to get things done if you don't build personal connection into your working relationships."

Hamann adds, "Rapport is about more than just knowing where a prospect went to school or what they have listed on their LinkedIn. Try to get creative and see what groups a prospect is involved in through the company site or their Twitter. Finding a personal connection with prospects proves you did your research, and will almost always help you get a response."

Additionally, you should always ask rapport-building questions when you're first speaking with a prospect.

3. Send a personalized video.

Is your outreach email fairly generic? If so, you should consider spicing it up with a personalized video.

Hamann says, "I always find a short but personalized video shows that you did your research on your prospect. It shows that you know who they are, what they do, and how you could potentially help them based on typical trends."

Additionally, a personalized video will allow you to use visual elements to tell your story, which brings us to our next point.

4. Use visuals.

Whether you send a personalized video in your outreach or not, your online discovery calls should use visuals.

Hamann says, "You can visually show how you or your company could potentially help a prospect."

During your remote meeting, you can create a slide deck to accompany your talk track. Or, you can share your screen to walk your prospect through what it would be like to work with you.

Either way, get creative. Visuals are more compelling than looking at a slide deck with only text.

5. Look at the camera.

Again, this tip may seem simple, but eye contact is still important in video calls.

Just like you would if you were face to face, make sure that you maintain eye contact when a prospect is talking or when you're going through your talking points.

Eye contact is a great way to build trust and connection with your potential clients.

6. Pay attention to your body language.

Although body language is different when you're on camera, it's still important to consider. In fact, you might need to pay more attention than you would normally because only a portion of your body is visible on camera.

This means you should have good posture and be fairly close to the camera. If you look far away, it can seem like you're not interested or paying attention. Just like you would lean in when someone is talking to you in person, do this in remote meetings as well.

If you aren't sure what your body language is like on camera, consider recording one of your sales meetings. Additionally, you can conduct a mock sales call with a manager or colleague and ask for feedback.

Tips for Online Meetings with Colleagues

7. Schedule regular catch-up meetings.

As we've said above, working remotely can leave you feeling lonely or disconnected from your team.

When I first started working remotely, I received feedback that I needed to be more visible on my team.

To do this, I scheduled regular catch-up meetings with coworkers on my team. You can set up these meetings biweekly or monthly depending on how closely you work with your colleagues.

Regular meetings help you build connections and rapport with your coworkers, especially those you don't get to work with often.

8. Communicate throughout the day.

Communicating throughout the day is still important if you work remotely. In fact, I'd say it's more important because you have to be intentional about it. When you work from home, you won't run into a colleague in the break room.

This means that you should reach out to coworkers if you have a question, or just want to share a new recipe you tried the night before for dinner.

Messaging your team throughout the day, even if it's just for fun, will increase your visibility on the team and help you build rapport.

9. Collaborate with coworkers when it's possible.

You should always be on the lookout for collaboration opportunities. For instance, if someone on your team sends a message asking for someone to review a sales call, you should volunteer.

On the other hand, if you want a gut-check on an outreach email, don't be afraid to ask a colleague to go over it.

This will help you build rapport with your colleagues, so always collaborate when the opportunity arises.

10. Attend remote watercoolers.

My team has weekly watercooler meetings to stay connected and build rapport. These online calls mimic the conversation that remote employees usually miss out on.

If your team has meetings like this, you should attend as often as possible to build rapport with your coworkers.

However, if your team doesn't have watercooler meetings, perhaps you can reach out to your manager and recommend a rapport building activity for your team.

11. Build psychological safety and trust.

Remote meetings can feel awkward because it's not as easy to strike up conversation with your coworker before a meeting starts.

Additionally, many remote employees struggle with feeling included during remote calls. To combat this, you should focus on building psychological safety and trust with your team.

You can do this by creating "Working With Me" documents, doing icebreakers, or discussing norms for your team.

These tactics can help you build rapport during online meetings, which isn't always easy. Since rapport can help move your prospects through your sales pipeline and stay connected with members of your team, it should be one of your top priorities as a sales rep.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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