How to build rapport in business

Building rapport is critical in business. It’s your tool for nurturing strong relationships while sharpening your capacity to influence others. When you establish a strong rapport, you’re able to engage your team and customers on a human level where loyalty and connection occur. Whether you want better relationships with clients, customers or your staff, learning how to build rapport is the first step to improving communication and trust.

What does it mean to build rapport?

Building rapport is the process of creating deeper relationships with others. It means taking action to create a harmonious or sympathetic connection with another person. These relationships don’t just happen, especially if you’re building rapport in sales. Connecting with others is a strategic business skill, and it takes work to build. Yet like any other skill, the ability to build rapport can be developed with the right knowledge and plenty of practice.

Don’t just learn how to build rapport in order to get ahead at work. When you make this skill a part of your personal growth plan, it can help you better relate to others and improve every area of your life.

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Why is building rapport important?

Building rapport helps to achieve mutual trust and understanding between two or more people. It leads to deep listening, meaningful conversations and fulfilling relationships where everyone involved benefits. When you take the time to establish rapport, you open doors for other people to align themselves with you and your business’ mission. You build trust, which is the first step to gaining leverage and influencing others, two tactics that are vital for sales and leadership. 

Without employee rapport, you’ll never inspire anyone to follow your company vision. You won’t be able to create a culture of innovation, because employees will be too afraid of failure. Without building rapport in sales, you’ll never gain the trust that leads to a closed deal. You can even use rapport-building skills to improve your relationships.

How to build rapport through communication

The basics of building rapport dovetail with many of the most effective strategies for communication in relationships or in business. Whether you want to better lead your family or your multinational company, start by taking a deeper look at yourself and improving your communication skills.  

1. Know yourself

When it comes to understanding how to build rapport for communication purposes, your first step is taking inventory of your personality. By getting in touch with your communication and leadership style, you’re able to connect with your truest self, which is the cornerstone of building rapport with clients, customers and anyone else.

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building rapport is important in business

2. Practice empathy

Understanding how to build rapport centers on relationships. Research on corporate loyalty demonstrates that empathy is an essential part of building trust and rapport. Empathy helps you humanize the customer experience to develop a mutually beneficial professional relationship.

By introducing empathy and rapport into your client interactions, you gain the insight you need to innovate constantly to meet the customer’s ever-evolving needs. By being warm, authentic, open, honest and collaborative, you open yourself to the customer experience, ultimately driving greater profits. 

3. Embrace new perspectives

Good rapport is the basis of effective communication in business and the rest of life. When you take the time to really understand someone, you’re able to see the world from the other person’s perspective. By asking rapport-building questions and embracing others’ viewpoints, you’re able to discern the other person’s needs. This is the key to adding real value to customers’ lives. 


4. Master the steps of communication

Building rapport entails a five-step process to understand the other person’s communication style. To start, prioritize finding commonalities and communicating nonverbally to convey warmth and understanding. Once you’ve established rapport, you can progress to communicating information. This is where you must think ahead: What have you anticipated as possible objections? How open are you to continuing a conversation in case there is a disagreement? Do you have a solution you can provide?

When you’ve discussed everything, make a concrete request: your clients or customers will buy into your services or your employees will be proactive about any changes that need to happen. Since you’ve established good rapport, they’re likely to respond favorably. 

Building rapport in sales

The days of cold calling and door-to-door sales surprises are long gone. Today’s sales strategies are all about relationships. As the saying goes, “People buy from people they like.” Can you become someone other people like? The answer is yes – because it isn’t about you. Building rapport in sales is about focusing on the other person: asking meaningful questions that will uncover their deeper challenges, dreams and obstacles, then using the power of storytelling to connect with those emotions.

This type of rapport building requires a high level of emotional intelligence, or the ability to read others and respond in kind. You’ll want to learn skills like mirroring and matching as well as read up on concepts such as metaprograms, which determine how people process information. Developing your ability to tap into what others are thinking and feeling is essential for strong rapport.

Building rapport with customers

building rapport with clients in business

You’ve made the sale – but you still need to keep customers and clients coming back. Building rapport is the cornerstone of customer loyalty and successful business strategy. Rather than think of a business as a set of policies and operations, think of it as a collection of people working toward a shared goal where you’re always striving to provide the ultimate customer experience.

In this way, a business is much like a family. When there is good rapport – a close, balanced relationship in which all parties understand each other and communicate effectively – your team can get the job done without intrusive interpersonal conflict. When you establish rapport, your customers will bond more readily with your product, and you’ll be able to create raving fans for life.

Building rapport with clients

Building rapport with clients is a little different as the relationship needs to be deeper. While you may never see your customers in real life if they are buying a product or service from your website or one of your stores, you must have a much more hands-on approach with a good client. By building rapport with clients, you’re able to make a true connection, which makes your product and company relevant on a meaningful, human level. 

Building rapport also means leveraging your loyalty, where trust converts to continued business. In one recent survey 53% of respondents rated trust as the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand, behind only price. And 70% said trusting a brand is more important today than in the past. Trust and rapport matter.

Building rapport with employees

What is rapport building when it comes to leadership? It’s one of your most powerful tools to create a team that works. Effective leaders hone their vision, courage and integrity while building their team and clientele through good rapport.  

Great leadership is characterized by a balance of business acumen, personal character and the ability to influence others – traits you can develop by building rapport. When you establish rapport, you employ the art of psychology, which helps you better engage with others. The ability to impact others creates upward momentum for unparalleled success. 

It is this capacity for influence that distinguishes great leaders from mediocre ones. As a business owner or manager, employee engagement is one of your most significant challenges. Statistics suggest that just 36% of American employees are engaged on the job, meaning that more than 60% of workers are not contributing at full capacity. One study on the impact of managerial personality traits on morale found that when employees feel management is approachable, employee engagement is highest.

Engagement increases even more when employees feel managers are approachable enough to discuss non-work issues, indicating a high level of trust. When you establish rapport, staff is more receptive to your feedback and even more likely to share their own. You’ll earn staff loyalty, and staff retention becomes a natural output of your business principles.

Rapport-building questions

Building rapport with clients, customers and your team centers on asking the right questions. Here are some examples of rapportbuilding questions that lead to deeper connections:

1. What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a company? In your management role?

2. What did you learn at the recent sales training? In our team meeting? When you attended this event?

3. What are the management dynamics of the new clients we have?

4. What could we do to make you happier and more engaged in your position?

5. What is one change our company could make to our services to increase your loyalty?

6. What do you think is the biggest issue our company is facing when it comes to increasing sales?

7. Who has been your greatest mentor and why?

Uncovering how to build rapport does not have to be complicated. It’s all about having empathy for others, being curious about their opinions, asking the right questions and truly listening to – and caring about – the answers.

Ready to learn more about building rapport in sales and business?

In a no-cost Results Workshop, you and your team will learn powerful strategies for connecting with others – and making the sale.