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How to build rapport in the age of Zoom

Making a real connection with prospects is harder than ever, but it’s still possible. Let’s find out more.




I’ve talked a lot in previous articles about the importance of personalisation and building rapport when you sell virtually. At our new workshops, we train companies and their salespeople on both of these things. Today, however, I want to drill into what building rapport actually means.

When you have a rapport with a prospect, they trust you and they genuinely like talking to you. This usually translates into sales, but even when it doesn’t, you can always get valuable help and information when you need it.

What rapport isn’t

Before we examine what rapport is in today’s sales environment, let’s look at what it isn’t.

Many salespeople confuse rapport with small talk. You know, talking about the weather or what you did at the weekend. As pleasant as this may be, it’s mundane and your prospect will forget about it as soon as you move on to the central part of your conversation.

Think about it; now we’re all homeworkers, your prospect is talking several salespeople just like you on Zoom every day. If you open your meeting with chit-chat about the rain, you can’t stand out. 

To build genuine rapport, you need to be different.

What is rapport?

Rapport is about building a real connection with your prospect. It’s getting them to know, like and trust you. It’s the type of relationship that if your prospect doesn’t buy from you that time, but they move role, or their need resurfaces, they’ll remember you and what you do.

Rather than talk about what you want to talk about – i.e. easy stuff like the weather – you need to go the extra mile and find out what makes your prospect tick. Take your small talk a little deeper and uncover interests and passions you can unite around. Rapport develops from there.

There are two easy ways to get this going, which, trust me, other reps aren’t doing right now. 

Always go on camera

Zoom is a video communication app that lets the person you’re talking to see you as well as hear you. So why do some people turn their cameras off during Zoom chats? You may as well be on the phone!

How can you begin a genuine relationship with someone if all they can see of you is a grey box with your name in it? How do you think they feel when they know that you could show your face, but you choose not to?

When someone can see your facial expressions, they get a better feeling about you. They can absorb your confidence and your sincerity. Plus, as Gong uncovered in a study, you are 127% more likely to close a deal if you use video at some point in your sales process.

So, leave that camera on! 


The other way to build rapport is to practise active listening. Just like you listen to what your prospect tells you when they talk about pain and need and such, listen just as hard when they’re talking about their interests or their family life or whatever. 

I know this is hard on Zoom, when you’re looking at yourself or wondering why your phone is bleeping away, but if you can do it, you can reap the rewards. 

As you do when you sell, take what they tell you and develop it. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Focus on what they say and be genuinely interested. People like to be listened to and it helps you find common ground.

In these challenging times, when we don’t see people as much as we used to, we like to chat. We’re more open to having a conversation just to pass the time and see what develops. Use that to your advantage.