Being in sales for 34 years, I get asked for advice now and then. Recently, a sales rep asked me about how I build rapport with a prospect. When you have been in sales as long as I have, you find yourself on autopilot and really don’t pay much attention to the «How.» After carefully evaluating my method to building rapport, I was able to give the sales rep my advice.

The key to building rapport is to find common ground with your prospect. What do I mean by common ground? Try to recall the last time you were at a party, networking event or any type of social gathering. You meet someone and start a conversation with them. You ask where they are from and they answer you. It happens to be your hometown. Presto! You just found your common ground with that person. How does that make you feel? Like you have something in common? All of a sudden you have a comfort zone with that person and it suddenly becomes easier to converse. It could also be a mutually favorite vacation spot, attending the same college, living in the same town. You get the picture?

The key actions to finding common ground are simply being friendly, sincere and approachable. Some salespeople make the mistake of creating rapport around «things» such as the weather, a ballgame, etc. That’s not creating rapport – it’s more like idle conversation. Rapport has to have an emotional base to it. It has to come from the prospect’s personal background. Find something in common that you both like and know about. Whenever I go into someone’s office, I look around and glance at the things my prospect has on display. I look for educational achievements, awards, family photos, trophies, etc. I ll ask a question that will create common ground based on something I see in the prospect’s office. You can also take the time to research the company you’re visiting to be better prepared. You can find several interesting bits of information on a company web site that can help you create rapport.

Once I build rapport with my prospect, I will tell him/her about my business career. (How long I’ve been with my company, etc) Then I segue to the business at hand and I get to the point. I may say something like, «The reason I wanted to meet with you is…»

If you find building rapport difficult, then I suggest you get out to networking groups, talk to the person waiting in line with you for your morning coffee, etc and practice finding common ground. If you can connect in that type of environment, building rapport in an office setting will be easy.

Once you leave your meeting, keep your new relationship alive by sending your prospect a Thank You card. It can be quick, personal and makes a big difference. To see the system I use and endorse go to

Jack LaCava has been a sales professional for 34 years, most of his sales career as a manufacturer’s representative. He has won sales awards including «Most Growth in a Territory» multiple times. Jack is available for speaking events and can be reached at For more information on the value of sending cards to your prospects and customers, visit

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Las relaciones personales se construyen a base de tiempo, atención y un deseo genuino de comprender al otro. Rapport, afinidad, empatía son sinónimos de una buena conección. ¿Eres bueno para relacionarte con las personas? ¿Te fué de utilidad este artículo? Cuéntanos de alguna linda experiencia.

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