Having Trouble Building Rapport? Focus on the Positive

Rapport building is critical for any sales producers success, yet too often initial questions with prospects build walls instead of bridges.

Are you having difficulty building solid rapport with new prospects? Maybe your questions are too negative.

bridges vs walls

Salespeople like to be the conquering hero. Solving problems and finding solutions with their products or services. The problem is that initial pain probing questions can often start a conversation off on the wrong foot.

Many sales classes teach the process of finding the pains of our prospects and fixing them. Initial questions always seem to point to finding the negatives so that we can be the sales hero and come to their rescue.

It’s the sales philosophy of discovering problems and putting a band-aid on the issue. I completely understand this idea.

Find problems, provide solutions, sell your product or service. It makes complete sense……………BUT only after you have developed some rapport.

When you meet with a new prospect, there will always be trust barriers. Those are hard to overcome.

Questions are often asked like, “What has been the biggest problem with” or “what would you do if?” These questions are meant to make the prospect think about negative things about their current product or service.

The problem is that questions can put the prospect on the defensive. If you have just met them, some of these types of questions may be none of your business. Plus, it doesn’t set a positive tone for an initial meeting.

That being said, the answers to these questions can be very important in finding the right solutions. What can you do?

  • What if you focused on the positive vs. the negative?
  • What if you could get the same answers, but with different type of questions?
  • What if you asked questions that made the prospect think, but also built rapport at the same time.

Let me provide some examples.

Instead of asking, “What problems are you having with your current provider,” ask “What has been your best experience with your current product or service?”

Instead of asking, “What would happen if………,” ask “What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened in your business?”

Instead of asking, “What is the most difficult part of your business,” ask “What do you love most about your business.”

Do you see where this is going?

The shocking thing is that if there are problems………..And there will be, your prospect will talk about them.

Positive questions inspire a positive vibe. They get the prospect excited about their business. You get on the same page.

Prospect will open up and share vital information…..Once they trust you.

Initial conversation with prospects are vital for rapport building and trust. Everyone knows that, but sales professionals often turn to gloom and doom before they are finished with the first handshake.

I suggest starting every new appointment with at least five positive questions.

I am not talking about questions like, “What do you think about this weather?”

I am talking about engaging questions that make the prospect stop, think, and maybe even smile. You have to prepare. You have to be smart.

Get the prospect to talk about their business in a positive light. Get them excited. Get them to like you.

Yes, at some point you may have to ask more difficult questions, and some may be negative.  Just don’t start there.

People like to talk about themselves. They are much more likely to talk about themselves when it’s a positive. Especially if you have just met.

Question: What types of positive questions do you ask your prospect? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brent Kelly is the co-founder and CEO of BizzGrizz Marketing.  He helps insurance agents stand up, stand tall, and stand out.  

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great article. I always want to know how the business owner got into the business. There’s usually a great story they will talk about. I find their business much more interesting than talking about mine. Of course we get to that, but it’s usually part of the flow of a good, positive conversation.

    • brentmkelly

      Thanks Robert. Stories are great and most business owners love to tell their story.