Some sales gurus will try to convince you that you need not be known, liked, and trusted to win deals in B2B sales. Some of these guru-types will focus on not needing to “be liked” if you can help your potential clients solve their problems and pain points. Others will suggest the industry is a contest between relationship selling versus consultative selling. Nothing could be farther from the truth with complex B2B sales.
You can build strong relationships that allow you to be even more consultative. One way to pursue this approach is to use effective rapport-building techniques in sales. But before you can deploy appropriate techniques, here are eight common mistakes that can undermine you when you’re building rapport with someone.
- Focusing too much on yourself: When you are young in sales, it isn’t unusual to spend too much time focusing on yourself and your stories. However, it’s a difficult balance to strike because you don’t want to say too little about yourself while building rapport. If your client doesn’t know you better after building rapport, you have failed, but you’ve also failed if you haven’t learned anything about your contact. The real risk is that you are so self-oriented that you spend too much time talking about yourself and learning little about your decision-maker.
- Not listening: One of the best B2B sales strategies is being a good listener. Avoid behaving like those rude people who interrupt someone mid-sentence so they can tell a story or comment. One way to avoid this mistake is by following a strategy from The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. Listening is a gift you give to someone, as attention is a hot commodity. After your client stops speaking, wait eight beats to ensure they are finished. Sometimes, your contact is forming their next idea. Along with a purposeful pause, their body language will help you know they are done speaking. Be genuinely interested in your prospective client to pick up on these signals.
- Being insincere: A rookie mistake while trying to build good rapport is to flatter your contact, something they will recognize as insincerity. Insincerity is a form of lying, and the person sitting across from you will lose the trust you are attempting to develop. You can also mess this up by pretending to be someone you are not to try and impress or convince someone. This could include pretending to have shared experiences or interests with them when you do not. This behavior can be damaging to relationships, as it is based on lies and deception.
- Being too pushy: As a full-cycle salesperson, you never want to come across as pushy. One way you can be too pushy in a sales meeting is by dominating the conversation and not allowing your prospective client to have a say. This will result in an unbalanced relationship and make it difficult to establish rapport. Additionally, not respecting your contact’s time can also be seen as pushy and can be counterproductive in creating a positive relationship. This is being inconsiderate of the other person’s schedule and can make it difficult to build trust and a strong connection.
- Not respecting boundaries: You may be used to pushing the limits and disregarding boundaries, but this can make your contact feel disrespected. When you move into their personal space and bombard them with questions that make them feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you are crossing a line and potentially damaging the relationship. Remember to respect the boundaries of others and be aware that not everyone is comfortable with being pushed to disclose what you might be comfortable with.
- Making assumptions: The concept of strategic empathy means you don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking or feeling, or how they will respond based on what you might think, feel, or do. To create a genuine connection, ask open-ended questions to ensure you better know and understand your contact. This is central to supporting conversational sales.
- Not being empathetic: We talk about empathy because it is easy to discuss but more difficult to practice. The stories and anecdotes your contacts share with you allow you to see or feel something from their perspective (which is why you should sit on the same side of the table in sales conversations). To connect on a deeper level, you must feel what your contact feels.
- Failing to follow up: A one-and-done approach implies a lack of rapport and can be a major setback for developing strong and lasting relationships. When you invest the time and effort into building rapport and connecting with another person, it’s important to follow through with additional conversations and opportunities to meet again. Otherwise, you risk appearing as though you don’t care enough to maintain the connection you worked hard to establish. Taking the time to invest in relationships and foster meaningful connections is essential to ensure that your interactions are beneficial for both parties.
- What is the most common mistake people make when trying to build rapport in sales? The most common mistake is to build rapport before the sales meeting agenda. It makes you look like a time-waster.
- How can I avoid coming across as insincere when building rapport? Don’t try to impress your contact when building rapport and working on building a strong relationship.
- What is the role of empathy in rapport building, and how can I improve my empathetic skills? Rapport happens when you take the perspective of your contact and work to understand who they are.
- How can I ensure that I am respecting my client’s boundaries while building rapport? Let the client talk and stay away from any conversation that will detract from rapport.
- Why is follow-up important in maintaining rapport, and how can I effectively follow up with clients? Relationships take time to build.
Avoiding Rapport-Building Mistakes in B2B Sales
Building rapport is essential for any successful salesperson, especially those selling B2B. It helps to develop trust and understanding between the salesperson and their client. It also allows for more meaningful conversations and deeper relationships with customers. By following a five-step plan to improve rapport, you can ensure that you are building relationships built on mutual trust and respect, while also improving your interpersonal skills.
Five-Step Plan to Improve Rapport and Interpersonal Skills
- Respect your client’s boundaries and listen to what they have to say.
- Be genuine and authentic when building rapport.
- Take the time to get to know your contact.
- Establish a connection through shared interests.
- Follow up with clients to maintain the relationship.