Relationships are the true X factor in sales. Why? Because all sales are at least somewhat emotional. At the end of the day, we tend to buy from salespeople we trust, respect and get along with. Building rapport with prospects isn’t just for used car salesmen. Building a lasting relationship is even more important when selling products with recurring revenue, since a great relationship can ramp up the lifetime value (LTV) of the deal. The key is to demonstrate that you’re curious, intelligent and friendly right away.
So how can you build lasting relationships with B2B customers? I talked to several members of our sales team about how they like to build rapport with clients. From their sales experience and my own, here are five easy ways to start sales conversations on the right foot.
Discuss their Career
LinkedIn offers a wealth of data about a prospect’s career history. Ask your prospects how they got involved with their current company or how they ended up in the role they’re in. If you’re not sure what their role entails, don’t be afraid to ask! You might even learn something that can help you personalize your messaging to fit their role.
- So how did you get involved with [company] name?
- How did you get into sales operations?
Look for Connections
LinkedIn makes it easy to identify possible connections with a prospect. Maybe they used to work for a company that your brother works for. Perhaps they are connected with your former boss on LinkedIn. Maybe they went to the same college as you or someone you know. Any connection you can find can potentially be used to build rapport.
- Oh I see you worked at Microsoft. My brother works there. How did you like it?
- It looks like you went to UCLA. That’s where my mom went. How did you like living in Los Angeles?
You obviously can’t follow the local news for every city, but sometimes there are some local news stories that come to national attention. If so, these can be good ice breakers.
- I see you’re based in Charlotte. Were you affected by that huge storm that was on the news?
- Looks like you’re based in New Orleans. Did you do anything interesting for Mardi Gras this year?
One of the best ways to build rapport is to discuss your prospects’ interests. Nine times out of ten a prospect would rather discuss an interest they’re passionate than work (at least for a little while). Feel free to look at their social feeds for clues about what they might be interested in. You might mention sports, vacations or music.
- Oh, I see you’re from Boston, did you watch the Patriots destroy the Bucks last Sunday?
- I noticed you tweet about sailing. I’ve always wanted to give it a try but don’t know where to start. What do you recommend?
By looking at a prospect’s LinkedIn page you might be able to get some insight into places they used to live. Or jobs they used to have that are completely different than the one they have now. When approached the right way, you can start some interesting conversations based on a prospect’s past.
- I noticed on LinkedIn that you used to live in Seattle. Do you miss it?
- I saw on LinkedIn that before you got into marketing you worked at a music publishing company. What were some of the artists you worked with?
Building rapport is only one vital part of a sales call. For the best questions to ask during your entire call, check out our B2B discovery question cheat sheet!