How To Build Rapport In Online Meetings With Prospects

Have you ever sat in an online meeting with a potential customer and thought things felt awkward?

I’ve been selling our sales training product to sales leaders, via mainly Skype video calls for years now and all of my meetings seemed awkward at first… until I figured a few things out.

Your online meetings feel awkward because you don’t have the same level of rapport with your prospect on video chat that you do in person.

There is no human contact with a handshake, it’s difficult for the person you’re meeting with to have eye contact with you and a lot of the body language cues we usually see aren’t always visible in an online video chat.

So in this video I’m going to explain 5 ways you can build instant report in sales to make them feel less awkward which will in turn help you get more deals done.

What is rapport?

First let’s very briefly look at what we’re trying to achieve with our online meetings. For a deal to get done, the buyer needs to have a trust with you. This is no different when you’re attempting to build rapport in sales as it is when you’re trying to meet someone new at a singles bar.

A lack of trust is like having a roadblock in the way of the sale progressing. With no trust your buyers might listen to your sales pitches but they’ll never get past a certain part of the sales process.

Now, your buyers doesn’t have to be your best friend but they do need to trust that you can deliver on the promises you make them.

Another way of defining trust is to us the word “rapport”.

Rapport can be described as two people having “mutual attentiveness”. Mutual attentiveness means that both people are both focused on and interested in the opportunities that each other can give them. In a selling scenario, these opportunities are the money in your buyers pocket, and your service to the buyers organization.

So now that we know why we want to build rapport (to get deals done) and what rapport is, let’s look at 5 ways we can engineer an increase of rapport over an online meeting.

#1 Look at the camera

This may seem simple but to build rapport fast in an online meeting you should look directly into your WebCam, rather than at the screen and the person you’re speaking with.

The subtle shift in your eyes looking down at the screen rather than the WebCam can leave a tangible level of disconnect between you and the person you’re engaging with.

Once the conversation is on the way you can then start to look at the individuals WebCam feed but for the first minute of your online meetings look directly into the camera.

That little black dot above your screen on your laptop is a hole into your buyers sole.

#2 Body language

Next, double down on your body language.

Salespeople often learn how they can use their body language to influence potential customers when they engage with them in person but for some reason this goes out of the window on an online video call.

Here are a few basic selling principles for you –

  • When the buyer is saying something that is moving them towards the sale, lean in towards the camera and smile to encourage them.
  • If the buyer throws out an objection or is been difficult, lean back slightly and make sure that you’re not crossing your arms or legs in a defensive stance. This will show that you’re in control and this posture helps relax you mentally so you can rebuttal the objection.
  • When the buyer is speaking, make sure to nod your head in acknowledgement that you are listening to them.

Finally, if you have not done so already, try recording one of your meetings. Watch the video recording back and see how engaging and trustworthy you really look.

#3 Find common ground

I find that there is more small talk in in-person meetings verses online meetings. Small talk is great for building rapport and finding common ground with your buyers.

So try and engineer a little more small talk at the beginning of your online video meetings.

We want to find common ground with our buyers because people enjoy talking about themselves. So when you can uncover a buyers genuine interest and then show interest in it, the buyer is more likely to relax and open up on your sales call.

You can find common ground by asking open ended questions at the beginning of your online meeting. For example, you could ask –

“What are you doing to get away from the office at the weekend?”

This question allows the buyer to share hobbies or interests they have and can then ask follow-up questions about them.

#4 Be empathetic

It is important to understand your buyers and see things from their perspective. Putting yourself in their shoes is a very quick way to build empathy between you both. Empathy always leads to greater rapport.

To create empathy with our buyers, we need to discuss emotions and feelings.

Now, avoid getting into deep conversations about your buyers recent divorce. Understanding why Juila had a 3 some with a bunch of dudes who like dressing up as furry animals might be fascinating, but it isn’t going to progress you towards a close.

Instead ask the buyer how they feel about the business problems they have. You could ask for example –

“How does this problem make you feel at the end of each workday?”

This allows the buyer to talk about their feelings and you can follow up with statements like “I’ve seen similar in other customers and they felt very tired and stressed about it as well”.

Showing empathy for your buyers builds rapport faster than anything else.

#5 Use visuals

The final tip I have for you is to do use visuals. Do as I do and use visuals like I have been doing throughout this video in your online meetings.

It could be as simple as scribbling down a diagram on a piece of paper and holding it up to the webcam. You could get slightly more sophisticated and screen share your computer or iPad like I’m doing right here.

When you use visuals to communicate with your buyers in your online meetings, you’re going to keep their attention longer and so have more opportunities to build rapport with them.

And there we have it, five ways to build instant report in your online meetings with potential customers.

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