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Although rapport should be built all throughout the sales interaction via the tonality that you use, your body language gestures and through active listening skills, when you first meet with a prospect you need to break the ice. This can be when you first meet them at reception, as you walk together to the meeting room, on the phone and when you’re on the way out of the meeting or at the end of a call.
Remember, rapport building is not a stage of the sales process.
You should be building rapport at all times and all throughout the sales process.
RAPPORT BUILDING WARNING…
Please do not think that building rapport just covers topics like the weather, favourite football teams or cheesy comments on how beautiful their kids look from the photos on their desk.
Instead, you should build rapport by keeping things light but business like.
Rapport Building Questions
Here are 21 rapport building questions that will build rapport at the start of your sales interactions:
“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you’ve only been here for 3 months. How are you settling in?”
“I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you used to work for ABC Company. I used to work for them / we’ve done work for them/ what did you do there?”
“Looking on your website I noticed that you’ve just done this / achieved that / won this contract / moved to bigger offices / (anything newsworthy to talk of) how’s that going?”
“How long have you been with the company?” (If you don’t know via LinkedIn)
“So you’ve been with ABC for 5 years?” (If you do know via LinkedIn)
“So you’re the title/position. What exactly does that entail?”
“So as the title/position, do you also oversee…”
“How many people in your department/do you manage/ do you employ?”
“How long have you been in that/this field all together?”
“How long have you been in the/this business?”
“How did you get your start in the business/field?”
“How did your company/business that you own get started?”
“How many people do you manage?”
“Does your company have other locations?”
“Does your role involve a lot of travelling?”
“How do you keep up to date on important information in the industry?”
“What periodicals do you read?”
“What are you up to this weekend?” (On the way out of office / meeting / end of call)
“What have you got planned for the rest of the day?” (On the way out of office/meeting/end of call)
“What have you got on for the rest of the day?” (On the way out of office/meeting/end of call)
Use whichever ones are appropriate – read the situation and try a couple for size during your next sales interaction!
Don’t Forget Your Body Language When Asking Rapport Building Questions
Understanding body language is an important skill for salespeople to learn.
You can ask questions to build rapport until the cows come home but if your body language is not on point when you ask them then all of that hard work will be lost.
Before we look into this it’s important that we understand some key concepts first:
Try this for example.
Cross your arms.
It feels good doesn’t it?
You are hugging yourself.
Yet, if you read books on body language they will tell you that this is a negative signal that is being sent out.
You have closed down your body language and are being defensive.
We have to link verbal and non-verbal signals to understand the real message that is being sent out.
If I have my arms crossed and, at the same time I am saying what a great time I had at the match last night I am being positive.
If I look worried and am describing a service problem that I recently experienced then I am feeling negative.
Look for more than one clue.
Look for clusters of body language.
Look for changes in body language.
I attended a presentation recently and at one point members of the audience lent forward and started to make notes.
This told me that the presenter had just said something of interest, but he missed it and continued with the presentation.
I would have asked a few questions if I had been him.
Some of my top tips to help you look and sound more confident when asking your rapport building questions.
Make positive eye contact when communicating.
Don’t stare but make regular contact.
This says you are confident.
Stand up straight and face the other person.
Look as if you are enjoying yourself
Different cultures tolerate different personal spaces.
For example, some cultures are very expressive when it comes to physical touch.
Think about Italy where a big hug and kiss on each cheek is considered a common and acceptable greeting, and then compare it to Japan where a proper greeting consists of a respectful bow and no touch at all.
Slow down a bit.
This goes for many things.
Walking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, it will also make you feel less stressed.
Talk a bit more slowly too.
It makes you seem more thoughtful and intelligent.
Respond to what is being said.
Use non-verbal listening techniques; smiling, nodding, changing your facial expression to demonstrate that you are listening. Don’t just take it in turns to talk when you’re building rapport.
That’s just lip service!
Try not to interrupt.
This is irritating and makes you appear less confident.
Match, or mirror their changes in body language.
When we feel comfortable in a group we match, or mirror the body language of others without thinking.
This can be done proactively to build rapport.
Avoid negative signals.
We all know when the person we are talking to is in a rush or late for a meeting.
Looking at their watch, pointing their body towards the exit and looking frustrated.
Dress for success.
Yes, it is a cliché but how you look determines how people respond to you.
Invest in quality business clothes and take care of your appearance.
So don’t forget to think about your body language when building rapport. They go hand in hand.