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How to build rapport on the phone – 10 key steps to success

How to build rapport on the phone – 10 key steps to success
Forrest Marketing Group Blog blog

How to build rapport on the phone – 10 key steps to success

You build rapport when you develop mutual trust, friendship and affinity with someone. Building rapport is incredibly important in developing business relationships. But how do you build rapport over the phone without body language which accounts for 55% of our communication effectiveness?
It is a well-known belief that body language accounts for 55% of our communication effectiveness.  Tonality accounts for 38% and our words just 7%.

So what happens, when you are trying to build rapport when sales prospecting over the phone?

This blog is part of our series on how to structure your sales lead generation calls.  Please click the links for information on how to introduce yourself on a cold call, how to run the discovery section of your call and how to wrap up your sales lead generation call.

Building rapport over the phone

Say the prospects name often! When you use their name regularly, you get their attention and validate your interest in them.

Positive body language. Even though your prospect can’t see you, posture affects tone and mood, so your prospect will notice the change in your voice when you sit upright, or even stand, and smile. A smile has a positive effect on your tonality, your vocal inflections, the volume and pace of your speech, and even the words you choose.

Mirror, pace and lead. If your prospect speaks slowly, slow your speech down to match. If your prospect speaks loudly and quickly, try to keep up. Also, tailor your pitch to suit if they are a big picture thinker or detail orientated.

The big picture people tend to be creative and strategic and don’t want to be burdened by the detail.  On the other hand, the detail-oriented people are conscientious and demanding and will only be convinced by hearing all the details.

Matching communication style.  Identify quickly if your prospect is a Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic communicator and match their style.  Listen for words like; see and look (visual), hear and listen (auditory), feel and sense (kinaesthetic).  Your prospect will feel better understood if you mirror their words (and style) back to them using statements like: “let me show you”, “I hear what you’re saying” or “I sense there is an opportunity here”.

Active Listening. As you listen to everything your prospect says, take notes and repeat what they’ve said to you where you can. For example: “That’s interesting Stephanie. You’re saying that your previous supplier of widgets was reliable but a bit expensive. Is that correct?”

Open-ended questions. Give your prospect the opportunity to enter the conversation by asking open-ended questions. Questions like How, When, Who and Why require more than a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response and enable you to build a two-way conversation. You can even use a statement like “Tell me about …” The more your prospect speaks, the more engaged they are likely to be in the conversation.

Position yourself as an expert. Explain clearly who you are, in a professional sense, and how much ability you have to solve your prospect’s problems. This means knowing your product, your service and your industry well. It also means demonstrating this knowledge to your prospect.

Be solution-oriented. Rather than getting bogged down in the details of the prospect’s problems. A positive mental attitude is infectious and helps to lead your prospect in the direction of working with you.

Be empathetic. Use phrases like “I understand where you’re coming from”, and “That experience must have been rewarding.” Showing genuine empathy helps you to gain the prospect’s trust and leads them towards accepting your solution to their problem.

Articulate the purpose of your call. Always communicate clearly and professionally, the desired outcome of your conversation. Your prospect is likely to become annoyed if, after a minute and a half, they still don’t know why you’ve called.

Your main objective in building rapport on the phone is to generate trust in an environment in which there are no visual cues to help either party. It takes special skills to succeed in these circumstances – to build rapport, qualify the prospect, make the presentation, address objections, create a sense of urgency and close the sale.

For more information, please watch this video from our Chairman, Richard Forrest.  If you’d like to discuss how we could run a lead generation campaign for you, please get in touch by calling 1300 396 888 or drop us an email to

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