5 Surefire Ways to Win Over Prospects on a Cold Sales Call (and common mistakes to avoid)

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Sidney Jones
July 19, 2022
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min read

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Today’s prospect does not want to be sold to. In fact, if a prospect feels like they’re being manipulated or forced into anything, they are likely going to shut down.

To avoid this, you have to show genuine interest in them, beyond a mere sale.

There’s clear benefits to human-centric sales and rapport building, as 56% of customers stay loyal to brands which ‘get them’.

If you want to have more meaningful sales conversations that leave the prospect feeling that you get them, keep reading. We’ve covered the do’s and don’ts of rapport building so you can quickly build a connection and turn prospects into lifelong customers.

The Do’s

1. Compliment

Come out the gate in your sales call with a researched compliment to instantly start building rapport. The psychology behind this is simple–people love being acknowledged for the amazing fetes they are accomplishing.

Take a look at their LinkedIn profile and visit their company website. Do some research on the prospect to find out all the amazing things they’re doing. Then drop one of these accomplishments at the start of the call.

Example: Hi Cynthia, big fan of you and what you’re doing at Company X. I saw that you just did Accomplishment Y–amazing!

They’ll be ready to drop their guard and connect more.

2. Find Common Ground

Trust is key to rapport building. And people tend to trust those who are similar to themselves.

This is where research comes into play. The only way you’re going to find common ground with a prospect is if you do your homework ahead of the call.

Check out the prospect’s social media (LinkedIn profile, etc.) and look for shared interests. Maybe you both have a favorite sports team or a favorite TV show?

Do your research, find the common ground, and reference it on the call.

Example: I noticed on your LinkedIn that you went to College X, I did my undergrad there! What did you major in?

This warms up the prospect and lets them know that you took the time out to do some research on them.  

3. Listen

On average, you should be listening 57% of the time and only talking 43% of the time. When you spend more time listening rather than talking, the prospect can tell you are sincerely interested in them and what they have to say.

Make sure that you’re practicing active listening and don’t just let what they’re saying go in one ear and out the other. Really pay attention so later in the call, you can incorporate the information they give you into your pitch.

4. Mirror Tone

As we mentioned earlier in the Common Ground section, people like those who remind them of themselves. Use this to your advantage with mirroring.

Mirroring essentially involves matching the tone of the prospect.

So if you notice that the prospect is bubbly and energetic, match their energy and be more upbeat in your delivery.

Just make sure you don’t take it too far and start mocking the prospect. That can quickly backfire.

5. Warm Up the Call

Rapport building is all about repeated nurturing.

Warm up your sales call by emailing your prospect ahead of time, and letting them know who you are, what you can do for them, and the pains and problems you can solve.

This way when you get on the phone, the prospect is already warmed up and open to not only further connecting but hearing more about how you can help them.

The Don’ts

1. Focus on the end result

It’s so difficult for salespeople to build rapport because the whole time they’re on the call, all they can think about is the end result– making a sale.

When you focus on the end result, you talk over the prospect and you don’t listen to them because you’re too busy rushing to close.

It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want to improve your rapport building, forget about the end goal of the call. You’ll be more relaxed and more apt to get to know the prospect and deliver value.

2. Take more than you give

As a salesperson, you should always give more than you take. In every touch with a prospect, you should be delivering some kind of value, whether it’s a free book or a white paper. Repeatedly delivering value is how you nurture and build rapport.

But if you want to drive prospects away, go into the call focused on yourself and what you want and watch the prospect disappear on you.

3. Talk more than you listen

If you want to burn a bridge with your prospect, out-talk them and ramble about your company.

Talking too much is a surefire way to lose a prospect because it’s harsh, but on a sales call–no one cares about you. People want you to show interest in them and explain how you’re going to help them accomplish their goals.

Make it about them, not you. This is crucial to rapport building.

4. Fake it

Whatever you do, don’t fake it. Don’t be overly friendly or overly excited because prospects can read right through this and they will shut you out.

They’ll think, If this person is being fake on the phone, how can I trust them with my money? How can I trust that they’re telling the truth about their product?

Being disingenuous brings up issues of trust and makes you and your brand look bad.

Be sincere and true to yourself at all times.

Article Re-cap

  • Research, research, research!
  • Deliver researched compliments right out the gate
  • Learn what you have in common with the prospect ahead of the call
  • Listen 57% of the time, and talk 43% of the time
  • Match tone
  • Warm up the prospect with repeated, value-driven nurturing
  • Make the call 100% about the prospect, not what you want
  • Be sincere and be yourself

With these essential do’s and don’ts, we hope you’re now an expert on how to have more meaningful conversations and deliver the value that they deserve.

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