Connect and Convert: How to Build Rapport in B2B Sales

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Sometimes in B2B sales we can be so focused on selling a product or service that we neglect to consider the best way to convince someone of something: by building a trusting relationship; by building rapport. Building business relationships is really all about building personal relationships with others, simply with a work flavour to it.

Avoid sales blunders and build rapport with these techniques utilised by the top B2B salespeople.

Strike while the iron is hot

In business relationships, it’s all about timing. You wait too long and someone else has already snapped up that prime account. Tools that provide sales triggers allow you to get daily updates on company changes, meaning you’ll be first to know when a company is starting up, expanding, restructuring, or has appointed new execs. This gives you a valid business reason to connect, rather than going in cold. 

“One of the best things about the new-wave of sales intelligence software is that I can now get triggers pop up for prospective accounts. This can help direct my intros, especially with new company hires or launches. Seeing a new hire pop up on a prospective account, I can immediately shoot off an email or place a call to the person with some congratulations and an opener, even send them over some company swag and a little gift. Building a relationship from day dot with a new company contact can make all the difference, especially if I’m getting in there before the competition.” – Lee 

Opening lines of communication directly after key sales triggers occur ensures you’re involved with the company or contact from the beginning. Developing a good relationship early on means you’ll be forefront in their minds. Craft your introductions carefully to make an impact!

Tune in

Being highly in tune with others is a skill typified by the best B2B salespeople, whether they’re on the phone, writing an email or face-to-face. We’re all human so many prospects have work and personal issues distracting them from being 100% present – assessing a person’s current emotional state and behaving accordingly is key to connecting with them. 

“I was at breakfast this morning and my regular waitress seemed a little embarrassed and more withdrawn than usual. Now, I don’t know the reasoning behind it, perhaps the boss had just yelled at her or she’d had issues with the hubby the night before. So I ducked next door to the shop and picked her up a slab of Lindt that I handed over when I went to pay the bill. Not a grand gesture, but enough to be a little light in her day – a day that wasn’t going so great. I know that she’ll remember that and smile.” – Deanna 

Being keenly aware of people’s current state is crucial in B2B sales. It’s about knowing when to engage with them – are they in full work mode, is it time to chat footy, are they distracted and in need of a break, or are they overwhelmed and in need a of a perk up? 

Be honest 

Honesty is one of the top ways to build relationships with people. By sharing your honest thoughts and opinions with potential customers, they feel like they are getting to know the real you – rather than just the shiny outside face of your company.

“I went to the Rainbow Serpent festival in Victoria for the Australia Day long weekend this year. If you haven’t already heard about it before, it’s sort of like Australia’s answer to Burning Man; counterculture, weird and wild. It’s definitely out there and not for everyone. A few days after I got back I had a meeting with the CFO of a new prospect of ours. When he asked how I spent my Australia Day, instead of telling him I went to a party – which is what I told my parents, a half-truth – I filled him in a little on my experience. It turns out his nephew who was launching a start-up was talking about it to him just the day before and he was very intrigued. We bonded a bit and now I’m even chatting to his nephew about his business needs. Networking at its finest! – Alex 

Don’t be afraid to show people who you are and what your interests are. It can help to grow rapport and even lead to other prospects or networking opportunities.


About the Author

Matt Skinner

CEO and Managing Director, IRD Group (Information Resource Development)

With more than 20 years in the industry, Matt is responsible for the vision and operation of the IRD group. What gets Matt out of bed? The knowledge that IRD is empowering and motivating our subscribers, and genuinely contributing to their commercial success.


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