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The Right Way to Build Rapport With Your Customers

Picture this: You have a salesperson come into your office and right off the bat they're talking about the weather, who won't the game last night or they see a picture of your and your family and start talking about their family. What is going on in your mind?

Probably this: Can you just get to the point? Right? One of the biggest myths in selling is that people buy from people they like. Sure this was true decades ago, but in our day and age people buy from people who they feel can get them the best “result” and solve their problems the most efficiently. Sure having them like you is a bonus but consumers in our day don't make buying decisions based on just liking someone.


What is rapport?

First, let’s understand what rapport really is. The Google definition is, “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.” The best way to build rapport with your potential customers is to ask certain questions to show that you are there for them, not for you. This is done right off the bat in the new model of selling through what’s called “connecting questions.” They build trust and a sense of connection immediately, bringing in the prospect from the get-go. 

In any conversation with a prospect, the first words you say … or more importantly, the first QUESTIONS you ask … can either make you or break you.  They can either compel people to be drawn to you and become open to what you are selling … or on the flip side, the words you choose can trigger sales resistance that leads to objections and rejection. Connecting Questions are the KEY to creating a favorable first impression while focusing on your potential customer.

Connecting Questions empower you to feel comfortable and confident in what you are selling.  Your prospects can feel your confidence, and they’ll feel comfortable with you.  Remember, when you focus on your prospect, it will decrease your anxiety.  These questions will also set the stage for you to continue asking them your skilled questions throughout the sales conversation.

This is how you’ll be able to build trust in your prospect’s eyes … allowing them to see you as the “trusted authority” … instead of another dreaded salesperson … because in today’s economy, most prospects view salespeople as being manipulative, pushy and just trying to make a commission. 

And, this is simply done by one powerful question at the beginning of the call. Observe here. 

Prospect: “Hi.  I'm calling about your ad I saw online, could you tell me what it’s all about?”

New Model Salesperson: “I'd be happy to.  And I was just curious when you went through the ad, what was it about the ad that attracted your attention?”  This is your first Connecting question.

Now, why would you ask them this question?

Reason  #1: Because they’ll tell you what attracted them, but more importantly they will tell themselves why they were interested in your ad.  This is the first step toward them persuading themselves to fully listen to you and what you have to offer.

Reason #2: You’ll now start to see a picture of why they called and what they need.

From there, the next two connecting questions should once again place the focus on the prospect. 

New Model Salesperson: “Was there anything else that attracted your attention?”  This is your 2nd Connecting question.

Many times they will tell you more reasons why they responded to the ad.  You’re now getting a picture of their situation.

New Model Salesperson: “Do you know what you’re looking for?”  This is your 3rd connecting question.  We first have to learn what their present situation is, what problems they’re having, the cause of those problems, and how said problems are affecting them (emotion). This must be done before we can offer our solution to see if we can even solve their problems.

Personalized Introductions

Here is a very powerful tool you can use if someone asks you “what do you do”. You can use this at a networking event, trade show or even if a family member or friend asks you this question. It’s about to build rapport through a personalized introduction, which explains how what you do helps other people. This introduction should incorporate a problem, solution, and question, and will come from a question that the prospect acts along the lines of, “What do you do?” or when calling a lead. You can also use this if you cold call, but only after you use what I referred to as your “problem statement.” 


  1. The PROBLEM


Start your reply to the question about what you do or why you’re calling with the phrase, “You know how…” and add 2-3 of the biggest generic problems with which your prospects would identify.  Needless to say, these need to be problems that your solution will solve. By covering 2-3 of the biggest generic problems, you’re ‘expanding your net’ to capture the likely problems that the prospect has.

This part is important because the New Model Salesperson looks at themselves as problem finders and problem solvers … not product pushers.  Your job is to discover their problems, find out what’s causing those problems, and how those problems are affecting your potential customer.  This is what establishes rapport: think of yourself as a detective that’s out to discover the problems each customer has and how you can solve it.


   This is where you demonstrate how what you do helps people solve their challenges. The key here is to use very simple language … and don't go overboard.  Be somewhat generic here.

    Start with “Well, what I do is help people/companies like that ” and continue with how your solution solves those problems that you asserted.                    



     Here, you ask a question that turns the focus back onto the other person to explore and uncover what their problems are and if you can help them.

     “I'm curious, what do you invest in yourself?” or What kind of investing are you involved in?  If you sell financial services, for example.


Asking this kind of question immediately puts the focus on your prospect instead of yourself.  THAT will help you connect with your prospects way better than any traditional old method of selling ever will.   

Your personalized introduction is not meant to sell them — it’s just meant to make them want to engage in a two way conversation to see if you can help them. Notice how this personalized introduction is simply going over a few problems that you solve rather than pushing a sale from the start. It helps the prospect understand what it is you do, why you’re calling, and builds rapport from the start. 

When in doubt, remember that rapport means building trust out of the genuine concern you have for the customer. You are here to help. Communicate in alignment with that concern.