Small Talk is Not Dead: How to Build Good Rapport in Sales

Written by Kira Baker

Kira recently graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!​

“Make sure to ask about Jasmine’s cat” isn’t the data you would normally expect to include in your CRM platform, but relationship building is key to staying in touch with prospects. Many sales reps spend countless hours trying to figure out how to be more persuasive, how to sell more, and sometimes how to be more convincing. However, sales is not all about how to be more convincing, but rather about being a better listener and being more empathetic.


 I knew Jasmine couldn’t take my call last week, because she was frazzled on her way to a vet appointment. Keeping this in mind, I might start the next conversation with “How was your cat’s vet appointment?”. Rather than jumping into our next call to talk numbers, I will make sure she’s in a comfortable headspace to discuss at all. 

Building relationships in sales is all about the connection and rapport that sales reps build with their prospects, but first sales reps need to make the time and space to do it. To build good rapport with your prospect, we recommend implementing the following in your conversations, 1. Active Listening, 2. Personal Connection, 3. Transparency, and 4. Commitment.


1. Active Listening

Active listening is a pattern of listening that keeps you engaged with your prospect in a positive way. Part of active listening is paraphrasing to show understanding and using nonverbal cues which show understanding such as facial expressions, body language, pacing, and tone of voice.

If the goal is to build good rapport with a prospect, you need to speak less and engage more in listening. For example, when I spoke with Jasmine about her cat, I made sure to let her talk a majority of the time so that I could fully understand her situation and be able to form responses that cater to it. 

2. Personal Connection

Personal connection is all about building good rapport, demonstrating concern for someone, and communicating effectively. In B2B, 68% of prospects are lost because of indifference or perceived apathy, not because of mistakes. 

It’s also important to find different ways to spark a conversation where you both have common interests or can relate in some way. I easily connected with Jasmine because I’m all too familiar with nervous trips to the vet. The goal is to form a connection with a prospect that is beyond the scope of just doing a sale.

3. Transparency

Transparency is a solid technique in relationship selling because it allows you to connect with your prospects. For sales reps, it’s safe to assume that a certain level of skepticism is the norm. But 65.2% of B2B buyers said that they found value in discussing their situations with sales reps

On the other hand, If your product or service is genuinely not a good fit, tell them! You might lose that particular sale, but they’ll appreciate the honesty and may refer others to your product or services that are a good fit. 

4. Commitment

Building relationships in sales takes accountability and commitment. If you are forgetting to follow up, missing deadlines and not delivering what was promised, you can easily lose a sale or find that the relationship will not work. 

To stay committed to following up with your prospect, it’s helpful to take detailed and quality notes after conversations. But without active listening, personal connection, and transparency during conversations, it becomes difficult to build good rapport follow up in a genuine and thoughtful manner. 


By caring about building relationships with prospects and taking an interest in their world, it can significantly improve the odds of securing a sale and retaining that customer for the long-term. Thankfully, Jasmine’s cat had a successful visit to the vet, and by discussing this matter and making Jasmine feel seen and heard, she agreed to another conversation with me. While the relationship selling process seems pretty simple, many sales teams forget the basics and the importance of caring more about the individual than just the sale.

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.