Advice: "I can't seem to build rapport with prospects. What should I do?"

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Dear Quota Team

I've been working as an SDR at a big SaaS company for the last 6 months. I've been mostly hitting my quota but I have one problem that I feel like is missing from my skillset as a salesperson that may be holding me back from being the best I can be. I suck at building rapport.

I've always been a bit of a shy person, but I am able to flip the switch and be personable when talking to prospects. However, my attempts to build rapport seem to be landing flat. I book a lot of intro calls using cold email. I usually take the first call myself over Zoom, qualifying the prospect before getting my AE involved. I always try to be friendly. I ask the prospect about their day, mention something from their LinkedIn profile like a post they made or a new initiative they launched at their company.  But it really feels like my prospects think they're above me and want nothing to do with me. I feel like I'm being treated like a robot who is just there to give them information.

The whole experience just feels cold, especially on Zoom. A lot of the time prospects don't even have their video on and it's hard to get them engaged. I want to be one of those salespeople who has a lot of good relationships and a big network, but I'm not sure how to get there. Should I just give up and accept my role as a robot that's just there to give them information? Do you have any tips for how I could go about building rapport with prospects who seemingly don't want to make a connection?

Awkward in California


Dear Awkward,

Your goal is (or should be) to close as many deals as possible. Salespeople get paid on the number of contracts signed, not the number of rapports built. There are plenty of top producers who seem like “robots” but who make hundreds of thousands of dollars or more a year. Building rapport is a means to an end, not the end itself. 

The best way to get prospects to trust you is to focus on them and their problems. This is accomplished through research and asking questions, not by talking about the weather. Get to know your prospects in a professional way. And if they want to veer into more personal territory, let them, but don’t try to force it. 

The best thing you can do is lean into your strengths. If you’re consistently hitting goal, then you have something going. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not in pursuit of some mythical ideal. Show up, do the job, improve where you can, but remember that you’re in sales to put points on the board, not to be the most popular or likable personality in your industry. Good luck!  

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