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Rapport: Why It's Vital and 9 Tips for Great B2B Salespeople

A man and a woman in deep cpnversation
Building rapport is vital if you want to excel in sales

Last weekend, a friend of mine told me a story about a sales presentation he'd been asked to join by 1 of his direct reports (a big telco firm)

There were half a dozen or so senior managers attending plus the Director, all gathered in the conference room with coffees and croisisants - you know the drill.

Most salespeople have been here a million times.

My friend - being the most senior person in the room - started out by welcoming everyone, doing the requisite tour-de- table of introductions and, when everyone was done, handed the floor to the salesperson.

So far, so professional, right?

So, the salesperson started out the way 90% of people do by telling the audience about their company, both in terms of turnover, the impressively large number of employees they had, the services they provided etc - standard fare you might say.

But that's the point, that's all it was - standard fare.

Who needs to be on the receiving end of 'standard fare' all day long?

A woman looking bored

Within just a few minutes, this salesperson, having been handed the floor by the most senior person in the room (gold dust), subsequently managed to lose the floor. So, the audience did what audiences usually do when bored and disinterested; they yawn, pull out their smart phones and they answer emails.

Totally disengaged.

So I asked my friend, "why do you think they disengaged"

To cut a long story short, the problem arose because the salesperson had failed to build any kind of rapport with the audience.

There was no attempt to ask questions, he (it was a he) just went straight into the standard company presentation - probably because that's what all his sales colleagues did, or that's what his sales manager taught him to do.

So that's why I decided to write 9 Tips for Great B2B Salespeople

Rapport is "the ability to connect with others in a way that creates a climate of trust and understanding”

2 male and 1 female lab researchers looking at a computer screen

Rapport is vital for audiences both in-person, and online.

Rapport leads to engagement.

Engagement leads to trust and trust is the glue that binds us humans together.

Without rapport, nothing of any goodness is likely to happen

Without rapport, you’ll never get the whole story from prospective clients because there's no trust and trust is vital in order for human beings to communicate collaborate with each other.

Before we go into that, here's an important discovery made in the 1960s by Albert Mehrabian.

Introducing: Mehrabian's Rule of Communication:

A male lecturer presenting to some students

Briefly, Albert Mehrabian was born in 1939 to an Armenian family living in Iran.

He originally trained as an engineer,[1] but is best known for his publications on the relative importance of verbal and nonverbal messages.

Mehrabian's findings on inconsistent messages of feelings and attitudes (the "8%-37%-55% Rule") are well-known as the percentages relating to relative

impact of words, tone of voice, and body language when speaking, which obviously includes presenting.

He discovered that human communication comprises 3 x distinct components:

Words (7%),

Tone of Voice (38%) and

Body Language (55%)

Only 7% of communication is the words


That means an incredible 93% of all communication is non-verbal.

Now that you've processed that startling statistic, here are a few do’s and don’ts - 9, actually - that you can use next time you’re in a meeting that matters - with a prospective client or even your line manager!

9 Tips for Great B2B Salespeople

How do you build rapport in sales with someone you’ve potentially only just met – and over a video screen at that? Here's some tried and tested tips for you:


A man and a younger man in conversation

1. Deep Listening (Words + Tone of Voice): The foundation of any quality interaction is active listening. Take the time to understand your client's needs, challenges, and aspirations. Your tone of voice should reflect genuine interest, empathy and curiosity. In short, make it sound like you care!

2. Empathy Matters (Words + Body Language): Putting yourself in your client's shoes can make all the difference. Understand their pain points, and acknowledge their concerns. Your body language should be encouraging and understanding.

3. Authenticity Wins (Words + Tone of Voice + Body Language): Be yourself. Authenticity is magnetic and fosters an environment of trust. Use words you're comfortable using, a sincere tone of voice and appropriate body language.

4. Shared Values and Interests (Words + Body Language): Find common ground beyond business if possible; this can create a much stronger bond. Use your words to express genuine interest in shared values and deliberately use body language to reinforce positive engagement.

A young mixed race woman on a video call

5. Timely and Relevant Communication (Words + Tone of Voice): Respect your prospective client's time and communication preferences. Communicate in ways that work for them – whether it's email, messaging apps, phone calls or even social media. It's up to us salespeople to adapt to other people's needs - that's 1 behaviour that will mark us out as being better than our competitors.

Your tone should always convey respect, value and appreciation.

6. Deliver Consistent Value (Words + Tone of Voice): Regularly share insights, resources, and tips that map to your client's needs. Your tone should exude enthusiasm for sharing valuable information.


1. 🚫 Ignore Boundaries: Respect personal boundaries and communication preferences. That is, don't invade their personal space if in-person and, if on video, try to appear on-screen a similar image to

2. 🚫 (Keep) using their Name: Lots of people – especially call centres – think repeatedly using someone’s name builds rapport. It doesn’t.

Whenever I hear someone call Keeeeeeith, it can only mean 1 of 3 things:

(i) they want something

(ii) they need me to do something

(iii) I'm about to be in trouble for something

None of which fill me with joy, so don't do it!

3. 🚫 Talk Too Much: My pet disllike. Like all complex skills, it's a balance. Your words, tone, and body language should show your client that you value their input. When you talk, make sure you’re adding value!

Page 28 of our new eBook: #HowtoSellVirtually talks about the Mehrabian rule in more detail, so if you want to learn how to commmunicate like a pro, download the new eBook here:

How to Build Rapport on a Video Call?

To build rapport like a pro, Download our eBook #HowtoSellVirtually from Bookboon here - page 28 shows you everything you need to do plus, if you act swiftly, you could even download it for free!

An informally ressed man wearing glasses

Sound Familiar?

If you're frustrated that your sales presentations aren't winning the deals or reaping the numbers you need, or you need extra sales horsepower on a campaign, then we would love to chat. No hard sell.

Message us at


simply book straight into our calendar

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Loads of great advice here. I really hate it when people use my name a lot! 😄

Rapport is so important - people buy people. I think it’s helpful to put yourself in the shoes of the people you are presenting to - be different! Be fun and interesting (and interested!).

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