In person, you can read a prospect’s body language and engage with them in a setting that makes them feel comfortable — but phone calls are a different ballpark. On a sales call, you must gauge their tone, form trust, and engage prospects through your words and delivery.

We’ll provide you with our best techniques for building rapport over the phone, but before we dive in, let’s quickly discuss what rapport is in the first place.

So, what techniques can you use to build this relationship over the phone? Let’s break it down.

Pro Tip: This may sound silly for a phone call, but smile when you introduce yourself and start the conversation. If you’re speaking in a positive tone, the person on the other end can hear and imagine you based on the positive qualities you exude in the first minute of the call.

Make sure to address people by their preferred titles and identity. While you can’t see who is on the other line, you must familiarize yourself with their profile to avoid running the risk of misspeaking or potentially offending them.

Pro Tip: Weave your prospect’s name throughout the conversation as reinforcement. For example, using phrases like, “Thank you for sharing that detail, Mrs. Matlock.” is a way to acknowledge the prospect and subtly demonstrate respect.

Finding connections is an integral part of how we build rapport with others in our personal lives, and it works the same way in business.

Pro Tip: Don’t get too comfortable, too fast. You can bond over something you enjoy, but don’t start cracking jokes or debates with your prospect — you don’t want to wind up putting them off.

Do your best to match certain elements of how your prospect speaks — considering elements like their tone or pace. This subtle form of mimicry displays strong listening skills and will help you build rapport without changing your character.

Pro Tip: While you want to match your prospect, you don’t want to be devoid of your personality or speaking style. You’re not a mime, after all.

You, as a salesperson, are supposed to let prospects know that you’re listening to them, and that you see where they’re coming from. Demonstrate your attentiveness by incorporating verbal nods and reiterating key points that your prospect has shared in the call as you discuss your solutions.

Pro Tip: While you listen to a prospect relay their problems over the call, let them explain the situation in full to you before you chime in. Otherwise, you run the risk of making assumptions or offering a solution that’s not fully personalized to their situation.

As a salesperson, you always want to understand where your prospect is coming from, as best you can. That means you have to understand their circumstances based on factors like their resources, business size or scale, and where they’re trying to get in their own career development.

Be considerate and empathetic throughout your sales calls. Plain and simple.

Prospects are coming to you for solutions, so reassure them while they explain their situation to you. The last thing you want to do is brush off their concerns or feelings — that will make them feel invalidated and push them away.

Pro Tip: Some rapport-building phrases you can use over the phone could be, “I understand how this issue could have affected…” or, “I can imagine how frustrating it’s been to…” These phrases are subtle ways to provide vocal support that doesn’t sound condescending.

At the end of your call, the best thing you can do is recite a summary of the talking points. It’s a great way to demonstrate just how attentive you are and show that you gave the prospect your undivided attention for the call’s duration.

Pro Tip: If you take it a step further, let the customer know what you’ll do between this call and your next. Use phrasing like, “Here’s what I’ll do next to ensure…” or “Since you raised concern over… I’ll make sure to…” A salesperson who is specific and actionable will be considered more of a trusted adviser than your typical rep.

What better way to close a call than to show some appreciation?

Thank your prospect for their time, attention, and understanding. Let them know their success means just as much to you as it does to them. Additionally, you want to provide them with clear steps on when and how to contact you to make a purchase.

Pro Tip: Put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. If you had just shared your problem, concerns, desires, and hopes — you’d want to feel understood and appreciated. Give them that same gratitude, and let that call be a stepping stone to making your next loyal customer.

Building rapport isn’t exclusive to in-person exchanges. It’s something that you can do successfully with a headset and mic or just a cellphone. We hope you find success in building relationships that last in your future sales calls.