Strategic Marketing Blog


How CPA Firms Can Build Better Rapport with Prospects

First of a series of blogs on Holding Effective First New Business Meetings

You have worked hard for the opportunity to meet with a new prospect. Now that the meeting has been scheduled, your real work begins. You only get one chance to make an outstanding first impression and to present your CPA firm’s capabilities in the best possible light. Are you ready?

It’s a well-known fact that people buy from people they like and trust. Trust is a key part of the equation, no doubt, but establishing trust is difficult to do until you have developed a positive rapport with someone.

A quick, easy and powerful rapport-building technique is to find common experiences with the prospect, and then bring those up during conversation. This is something we all do when we first meet someone (i.e., talk about the weather, sports or current events).

The internet and social media have made it easy to quickly learn more about the person you are meeting. Prior to your next meeting, spend a few minutes looking for potential common experiences such as career background, educational background, hobbies, vacation preferences, kids, etc. Check to see if they have written or shared any blogs or news articles.

To find this information, look at the prospect’s personal and corporate LinkedIn profiles, Facebook and Twitter pages. Also check to see if their company’s social media sites include a bio page on the prospect. Last, think about checking with other firm members, business contacts or your LinkedIn connections to see who might know the person.

By the time you meet with your prospect, you will likely have some good background information about them. With that in mind, consider the following sample rapport-building questions:

  • You’re an alum of (college). My friend graduated from (college) in (year). They said it was really (insert friend’s analysis)…
  • I noticed on LinkedIn that you help out with (organization). How did you get started with that?
  • I saw on Twitter that you’re a massive (sport) fan. Are you looking forward to (upcoming season/upcoming game, etc.)?
  • In your LinkedIn summary, you mention loving (activity). How long have you been
    doing that?
  • I noticed you follow (influencer) on LinkedIn or Twitter. What did you think of their ideas on (topic)? (Alternatively, “Did you read their (book)?”)
  • I enjoyed what you (blogged/shared) the other day about (topic). Have you read
    (related article)?
  • Since you’re interested in (topic); I was wondering if you’d read (book on topic)?
  • I saw on (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, company website) you’re interested in (topic). How did you (learn about, come across) that (topic, field)?
  • Congrats on (recent company announcement). How long was that in the works?
  • I saw (company) won (award) recently—congratulations! Did you submit an entry, or were you unaware your team was up for consideration? Who were you competing with?
  • I read your company’s blog on (topic). I liked (your/your coworker’s/your CEO’s) post about [topic]; what do you think about (related topic)?

If you think these questions are fairly basic and straightforward, you’re right. Rapport building is an area that doesn’t need over-complication. Do what you can to create positive feelings and positive emotional reactions with people, and you’ll be well on your way.

Watch for upcoming topics as part of our series of blogs from our Business Development Training Workshop, including:

  • Focusing the Conversation on the Right Issues
  • Learning About Their Business…From Them
  • Deepening Your Credibility
  • Wrapping up the Meeting

Business Development Training Workshop

The objective of the Business Development Training Workshop is to help your professional staff become more comfortable, confident and skilled at:

  • Winning new business
  • Setting S.M.A.R.T. business development goals
  • Holding effective first meetings
  • Asking questions to develop and determine a prospect’s most critical needs
  • Identifying when/if someone is ready to buy, and how to proceed from there
  • Determining what information is critical to include in a proposal and what isn’t.
  • Best practices and strategies for meeting and proposal follow-up
  • Cross-selling to existing clients
  • Developing an individual business development plan

For more information about the Business Development Training Workshop, or questions about other marketing challenges, please contact Jonathan Ebenstein at (440) 449-6800 or email Jonathan.

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