The Best Sales People Make Effortless Rapport, But It’s Not What You Think

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

3D handshakeBuilding rapport is the holy grail for many sales people. They think that if the relationship is cemented before they try to pitch their product, then they stand a better chance of successful outcomes.

What do most people think ‘rapport is? Most think it’s talking about the weather, some photos they see in office or how last weekend’s sports events went. However, the people we are talking with are busy people. Their mind is on something different…things like how their business is going now, the challenges they face at the moment, the problems they will experience if they don’t solve their current problems, etc, etc.

Am I suggesting you shouldn’t use small talk and just say something like, “Hi Mr Prospect, good to meet you. Now, how many of my product were you looking for?”

Err..not quite! There is a difference between building rapport through small talk and building Effortless rapport through talking their business language.

In other words, don’t think about the small talk as building rapport. It’s just getting the human interaction going.  Effortless Rapport is talking shop and finding things in common about the project, work, company news, something about the company etc.

The prospect is only interested in what you can do for them and their business. Rapport in this sense is being on the same business wavelength as they are on. This means creating rapport by identifying business needs and discovering or uncovering challenges their company is going through at the moment.

So, don’t view the small talk as rapport-building. All that does is create a start of the human interaction you are both going to go through.

Think of the rapport-building as the start of the conversation, because it’s at that point when the prospect begins to create awareness of what their needs or wants are. They need someone to work with them who they can see is going to be good for them, someone they can trust and someone who has a real interest in solving their problems.

It would go something like this:

“Mr Prospect, I’ve done my research on your company and I have two or three ideas that I might like to run past you. However, it would be good to make sure I have a clear picture of the current situation, so would it be OK if I asked a few questions to get us started?”

This builds effortless rapport in the beginning by

1) showing the prospect that you have done your homework and are interested in their business,

2) identifying the direction the meeting is going to go, and

3) asking permission to ask questions to help the meeting go forward.

The essence of this is to ensure you don’t think that just because you have spoken about his last fishing trip and how your holiday went, you are now in rapport. Effortless rapport is all about creating that foundation for the business discussion, when you talk about the real reason you’re there…to help their business grow.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 9 April, 2014

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