Customers prefer to buy things from people they like — plain and simple. It boosts your chances of making a sale because it naturally confers a sense of trust and comfort.
Cultivating this friendly framework with prospects can be challenging, especially when you don’t know much about their preferences or purchasing habits from the introduction.
So how can you overcome this challenge? By using sales mirroring. Here’s what you need to know about effective sales mirroring, why it matters, and which techniques are the most effective.
What is sales mirroring?
Sales mirroring is the rapport-building strategy of mimicking specific behavioral characteristics of potential customers to foster a feeling of trust.
The goal is to create a behavioral reflection that puts prospects at ease with an unspoken, innate understanding — even if the sales lead and staff have never met.
Why is sales mirroring important?
Mirroring is effectively a shortcut to familiarity. It usually takes time to develop rapport naturally, so by mimicking phrases or gestures, salespeople can create a sense of familiarity quickly.
Sales Mirroring Benefits
When done right, sales mirroring can result in:
- Increases overall trust between salesperson and prospect because it helps blur the line between business and personal interactions. Potential customers are often more willing to compromise with someone they can trust.
- Increase your ability to focus because you'll be more actively engaged and attuned to what your customer is saying and doing during the deal.
Sales Mirroring Mistakes
Mirroring might sound like the perfect strategy, but you should use it carefully. Some pitfalls of the strategy are:
- Mirroring isn't very effective in isolation. Mirroring works far better in one-on-one sales than in a group since you have the client’s undivided attention rather than being split across multiple team members.
- Obvious mirroring can be off-putting. Subtlety is key. Obvious, over-the-top mirroring won’t result in better rapport — it'll give customers the impression that you’re mocking them or making fun of a specific behavior. The best mirroring is small and subtle.
So what does sales mirroring look like in practice?
How to Conduct Sales Mirroring
1. Mimic body language or positioning.
If your customer sits down and crosses their legs or arms, you should sit similarly.
If they lean back while talking, mirror that movement.
If they sit up straight in their chair, don’t slouch.
Body position mirroring signals that you’re on the same page as the customer, whether relaxed, focused, serious, or otherwise.
2. Use a similar tone of voice.
Many salespeople are gregarious, friendly, and excitable. They may speak loudly and quickly to convey their passion for a particular product or service — but this won’t work as well if prospective clients are quiet and reserved.
Take a cue from customers, and match their tone of voice or energy levels to send a message of respect and foster a fundamental connection.
3. Adopt their communication style.
Does your prospect want all the details about their purchase, contract, and payments up-front — or are they more concerned with the bigger picture? Do they seem more interested in small talk than sales numbers, or are they pressing for specifics? No matter their communication style, listen to your prospects, and don't be afraid to veer away from familiar sales pitch frameworks if it means that they better understand you.
Focus on the content of what customers say, ask questions to understand what they want better, and summarize what you’ve heard to show you're paying attention.
4. Talk about shared experiences.
You can talk about common experiences in conversation about things like the weather or local sports teams. If you have the time, it’s worth a quick social media search to see if you and your prospect have mutual interests.
Pro Tip: If you can't find shared interests, don’t pretend. You can lose trust and derail your sales efforts if they find out you've been bluffing.
4. Use gesture recognition.
Many people have a specific gesture they repeatedly use for emphasis, such as a head nod, hand wave, or shoulder shrug. By recognizing this gesture, performing it occasionally, and mirroring the motion naturally to potential customers, sales pros can boost that person's overall confidence and trust.
Incorporate Sales Mirroring into Your Strategy
Sales mirroring can help increase your likeability, improve rapport, and boost overall sales. When combined with common experience building and active listening, it’s possible to build long-term relationships that start with initial sales and drive loyalty over time.
Editor's note: The article was originally published in January 2021 and has since been updated for comprehensiveness.