Four Ways To Create Rapport Virtually

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
Dale Carnegie

Building rapport is critical to succeeding in sales. By getting to know your prospects and clients beyond just a surface level, you can begin to establish a meaningful connection. The more your prospects and clients get to know you, the more likely they become to work with you rather than turn to your competitors.

But, in an era of remote work and social distancing, how do you go about creating rapport online? According to Dave Shaby, chief operating officer of RAIN Group, you can focus on building relationships virtually by implementing four smart strategies.

Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Shaby’s insights on making time and space for relationship building when your conversations are happening online.

1. Make a point to focus on establishing rapport
When you are meeting virtually with a prospect or client, Shaby recommends making the first move by speaking first. You could talk about what you did over the weekend or something you are looking forward to doing. He says that while it is tempting to let other people speak first, if you want to set the tone, you should talk first.

2. Close the call with a casual conversation
Just like with in-person meetings, leave room for easygoing conversations at the end of your virtual meeting. Shaby says after the formal part of the meeting ends, you could bring it to a close by refocusing your rapport. You could say something like, “Great, so the next steps are A, B, and C. Before you go, I’d love to know more about what you said about being a part-time professional chef. That sounds interesting.” If you are in a group meeting, Shaby recommends saying something like, “Chris, I know we have worked on this project for several weeks, but I haven’t had the chance to speak with you one on one yet. I’d like to learn more about you and how you would like to see this go. Can we chat for 15 minutes later this week?”

3. Schedule brief check-ins
To keep the conversation going, sales professionals should make it a priority to contact prospects and clients to check in. You don’t need to request an hour on someone’s calendar—just 15 minutes will do, notes Shaby. With no in-person interaction, Shaby says it is helpful to schedule a video meeting to help build greater rapport. People often find it easier to connect to others when they can see them.

4. Work on building relationships outside of formal meetings
Remember that you can make connections and establish rapport with prospects and clients outside of scheduled meetings. Whether you send a text, an email or a LinkedIn message, you can use various channels to strike up a friendly conversation. Even giving a client’s post a like or adding a comment demonstrates your interest, says Shaby.

Relationships matter in sales. However, you don’t need a handshake or face-to-face eye contact to establish rapport with your prospects and clients. Even when most of your meetings happen virtually, you can build rapport by establishing a common ground right from the start, making time for casual discussion at the end of the meeting, and committing to regular check-ins. Learning how to create rapport virtually is a skill that will serve you well now and in the future.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dave Shaby is chief operating officer of RAIN Group, a sales training company that delivers award-winning results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement. Shaby is the bestselling author of Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate, and Win Sales Remotely.

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