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Building Connections

2 min readSeptember 22, 2021

How do you build rapport with a prospect?

Rapport is a central element of establishing a trusted-based connection with a buyer.

Sometimes empathy is used as a synonym for rapport. However, I believe that empathy actually is a necessary prerequisite to rapport building.

Whereas empathy is the ability to understand or share the feelings of another person; rapport is the connection that emanates from that empathy.

My experience has shown me that the only way to really understand how the buyer feels is to ask her/him.

However, you can’t pose the question like you’re a therapist talking to a patient on the couch. “Tell me, how does that make you feel?”

So, here’s a great question to ask to start building rapport with a buyer.

It’s based on the premise that buying is all about change.

By investing in a product or service such as yours in order to achieve certain outcomes, the buyer is committing to making a change from the status quo.

Change is not without its consequences. Either good or bad. Often those consequences can fall on the very people who are charged with evaluating, recommending and/or making the purchase decision.

Since rapport is about building a human connection it’s essential to understand the impact of the pending changes on the human with whom you’re creating that connection.

“So, Jane, what impact will this change have on you (your job, your responsibilities, your workload, your team)?”

Or, if you want to be more formal: “Jim, it seems like this purchase will necessitate some real changes on your end. What can you tell me about how this personally will impact you?”

With this question, you’re asking the buyer to share something personal. Something emotional.

The fact that you care enough to ask resonates with buyers that are inundated by an army of vanilla sellers who are all talking from the same script. It differentiates you on a human level.

Which is what we’re supposed to be doing in sales. Serving other humans. Helping them solve problems.

Helping them to make good purchase decisions that sometimes have consequences for them.

And demonstrating that you’re human enough to care.

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