eight-ways-to-build-rapport-with-your-prospectBefore a prospect buys from you, they need to be comfortable with you. They need to be confident in you. They need to trust you. The faster you build that comfort, confidence, and trust, the sooner they’ll buy. And building those three things starts with rapport—creating connection between you and your prospect.

How can you do that quickly and effectively? Here are eight ways:

1. Smile
A warm, genuine smile is essential for making a good first impression. Even over the phone. (Because a smile causes your voice to be warmer and friendlier.) Be sure to greet every prospect with a smile, even if you’re having a lousy day.

2. Touch
Touching your prospect is a double-edged sword: While multiple studies have proven that touch can create connection, improve people’s moods, and cause buyers to spend more money, touching someone inappropriately (or touching a person who hates to be touched) can destroy your relationship with that prospect irrevocably. So use caution. A handshake is always safe. If appropriate, a high-five or fist bump can be a good way to make physical contact. But avoid anything that has the potential to make the buyer uncomfortable.

3. Refreshments
Offering something to eat and/or drink changes the dynamic of the relationship from “buyer & seller” to “guest & host.” So whenever possible, offer food and beverages to your prospects. It can be as extravagant as a twelve-course gourmet meal or as simple as a glass of water.

4. Self-Deprecating Humor
Humor is another issue that can be tricky. Although sharing a laugh is a great way to bond, it’s ridiculously easy to offend your prospect with the wrong kind of humor. The safest humor to use is the self-deprecating kind. Additionally, jokes at your own expense show your prospect that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you have self-confidence—two factors that cause people to like you more.

5. Questions
Too many salespeople rush to talk about their company, product, or service. Instead, ask your prospect about themselves: their situation, background, needs, goals, concerns, experiences, plans, priorities, values, preferences, etc. People love talking about themselves, and the more they talk, the more their defenses come down.

6. Listening
Asking great questions doesn’t do you a lot of good, however, if you don’t bother to listen to the answers. Give your prospect your complete attention. Look at them while they talk. Take notes. Give them verbal cues that you’re following them: words like “right,” “gotcha,” “okay,” “definitely,” etc.

7. Empathize
Buyers want to feel that a salesperson is on their side. So agree with them. Validate their opinions and concerns. Tell them about other customers who have been in the same situation. Identify with the emotions they’re experiencing. Share what you have in common with them.

8. Gifts
A gift both demonstrates and creates appreciation. And it doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It can be a white paper, a hat, a toy, a ticket to an event, candy, a bookmark, or almost anything else. And you can give the gift at the beginning of a meeting, at the end, or afterward as a follow-up.

Building rapport is the first step to creating trust. And it’s all about making the prospect feel good—both about themselves and about you. Use these eight tactics to help them feel good about both.