Every interaction you have with a prospect moves them closer or further away from a sale.
Selling is an art form. It also requires a human touch to pull it off. Prospects know when you’re not being genuine. They know when you’re trying to rush through a scripted sales pitch and when you’re just out for the sale.
You need to realize that prospects don’t really care about your company or your solution off the bat; they want to know how you can help them achieve the results they want. You won’t sell them anything if you only talk about how great your product or company is.
Before you do anything else, you must show genuine interest in your prospects’ problems.
One way to show genuine interest is to build rapport. In this article, I’ll cover six of my top questions that are proven to build rapport and nurture relationships so you can advance sales opportunities for your business.
Rapport-Building Questions for Sales Professionals
Before we get to the six top rapport-building questions, let’s cover three critical points.
First: Building rapport is the art of building a relationship with clients by connecting with them. People have always been skeptical of sales professionals, even more so in the modern B2B world.
Buyers want to connect with people they know, like, and trust. How can they know, like, and trust you if you don’t establish a genuine connection? You’ve got to be human and conversational. Be yourself, and show genuine interest and empathy.
It’s a different approach than just going for the sale, sure. And yes, it’s the long game.
But ultimately, you’ll have a more fruitful relationship with clients who want to buy from you again and again.
Second: It’s essential to think about when you should focus on building rapport. Prospects won’t want to waste time developing a relationship with someone who can’t help them produce better results.
So you’ve got to provide commercial, economic, or strategic value first.
When you put the business agenda first, you prove yourself as a professional. Although you’re trying to establish and build a relationship, it’s still a commercial relationship.
Value first, rapport second.
Third: Great rapport-building questions go beyond the surface level; they’re personalized. Note I said personalized, not personal. It used to be that personal questions were a great way to build rapport, but now we have more business conversations than personal ones.
That said, genuine questions build trust, and rapport compounds over time. It comes easier and more naturally after more meetings.
Always keep in mind that you’re offering solutions to a problem your client is having. You serve them best by paying attention to what will serve them, and you adjust your approach accordingly.
Q#1: If I Had The Opportunity To Pass Through [City/State], Where Would You Recommend I Visit?
Alright, I know I said we don’t use personal questions anymore, but an icebreaker is OK, right?
In general, people like being helpful. It makes them feel good, and it gets them talking.
This kind of question always initiates a back-and-forth. It also shows your client that you’re genuinely interested in their thoughts and ideas.
It serves you too. You’ll get to know more about who they are based on their answers. You’ll gain insight into what they like doing and the types of places they like to go. If you meet face-to-face, you’ll know where to suggest that will make them feel comfortable.
Q#2: How Long Have You Been Working for XYZ Company?
The answer to this question can tell you two things:
- How experienced they are
- How much influence they have over the buying process at their company
Though it might not seem like one, it’s an open-ended question, too. Most people won’t just say, “Oh, two years.”
If you don’t respond immediately, you give them a chance to fill the silence, and they might talk about their experience. Or you could ask some follow-up questions:
- What’s your experience been like?
- What do you love about the company or your role?
This is your opportunity to lead the conversation in the right direction.
Q#3: How Is Your Role Here Different From Your Past Roles?
This question helps you gain insight into why your prospect switched from their previous company. Like the second question on my list, this one gives them the chance to open up about their previous experience and talk about their current role.
Are they ambitious? Is this role more exciting? What are the company’s wider goals, and how do they fit in? Are they trying to help drive growth?
Perhaps they’ve just started this role and want to make an impression. Will your product or service help them drive growth in their company? Will their leaders see that they’re more capable?
You can steer the conversation just by listening and agreeing, and you can explain the vehicle they might use to get there without a hard sell.
Q#4: What Are The Most Important Outcomes You Need Now, And Why Are They Critical Now?
Think about the last question. Let’s say your prospect wants to drive growth in their company and prove to their CEO that they’re capable. What does success look like to them, and what’s stopping them from getting there?
This question shows that you want to learn about the outcomes your prospect wants and that you’re genuinely interested in helping them.
Asking clarifying and reflective questions helps people open up. They feel validated, and you get to know what their struggles are. Then you can dig deeper. You can also follow up with questions such as:
- What have you tried before to solve this problem?
- What’s worked for you in the past?
- What hasn’t worked for you?
Finally, the second part of the question delves deeper into the why behind the outcomes they want. Why now? What’s the urgency? It’s easier to sell if your prospects need results quickly and are ready to invest.
Q#5: Imagine Your Problems Were Solved; What Would You do?
Future-based questions get prospects out of their heads. It helps them paint a picture of what success looks like and how they will feel if they achieve their goals.
I want to use Russell Bronson as an example here. An early ClickFunnels slogan was “You’re one funnel away.”
The great thing about this slogan is that it’s open-ended. It begs the question, “one funnel away from what?”
The answer? Whatever that person needs the result to be. It allows the prospect to imagine they’re one sales funnel away from their future outcome. Getting customers to talk about their future results puts them there.
Q#6: What is the Best Way Someone in my Role can Help You Pursue Those Goals?
You’re making it about you, but you’re putting the ball in their court.
You’re shedding light on their expectations. You’ll know how you can best serve them, whether your product is the right fit, or how you might customize your solution to their needs.
Though you don’t need to ask these questions in order, this one should come near the end. The earlier questions in my list get your prospect comfortable, relaxed, and primed to think about success. Now you’re asking them to actually tell you what they want from the relationship. By saving this question for later, your prospect is more likely to open up and give you an answer of value.
Rapport Building Questions for Sales Professionals: Try These First
These six questions aren’t the only ones you should ask while building rapport with your clients. There are thousands of questions you can—and should—explore.
My best advice is to start with questions like these, then let the conversation progress organically by actively listening. What that means is don’t listen and be thinking of how you can respond; listen to hear your prospects and empathize with them.
Once you know their frustrations, their vision of success, and how close they are to taking action. You can insert yourself into the conversation as a guide.
Rapport building is a crucial component of relationship selling. Provide value, build rapport, and develop your business relationship.
As a sales professional, you need strong prospecting practices, techniques, habits, and tools to fill your sales pipeline.
Rapport building is one such tool. If you want a blueprint to help, you understand everything you need to know about prospecting sales, check out our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Prospecting Sales.