MIRRORS: Reflects back remarkably to build rapport with Customer
The Sales Coach shares with you practical lessons picked up from a life-time spent in sales. He highlights overarching, higher order positive behaviours that can help you build sales resilience. And today he speaks of how internalizing mirroring behaviour to build rapport that can make sales feel effortless.
Let’s listen in on his conversation with the group of Sales Enthusiasts
The Sales Coach said to the Sales Enthusiasts on their mentoring video call …
“Since I spoke to you last week, some of you reached out to tell me how you would like to learn how in a sales conversation, you can quietly and quickly get the Customer on to your side”
And the Sales Enthusiasts responded:
| “So true. We hear so much about building rapport. Nothing much about the how part”
| “Some salespeople seem to mesmerize their Customers into closing. That could be fun. Is there a way to learn their secret? ”
| “After Covid our Customer calls have become 2-dimensional. How do we create a connect then?”
The Sales Coach said:
“Here’s the interesting thing. The answer to all three questions is one word – Mirroring. That’s the royal road to quickly building rapport"
Sales Enthusiast (SE): “Can you please elaborate Sir?”
Sales Coach (SC): “Well, for starters, Sales Conversations are fun when you take them seriously. If you take them lightly, they can get serious. And conversations can win rapport or vaporise it, depending on how good you are at mirroring.
To illustrate I will tell you a story from Aesop’s fables.
A sailor, setting out on a long voyage took a monkey with him to keep him company. They left Greece and very soon a huge storm struck the sailor’s vessel and all aboard the ship had to swim to save their lives. A Dolphin who loved to rescue humans saw the Monkey struggling. She thought the monkey was a human being. So she put the Monkey on her back and headed to the shore.
As they were nearing the beach, the Dolphin asked the Monkey if he was from Athens. Wanting to sound clever and impressive the Monkey replied that he was indeed from Athens and was the descendant of one of the most noble families there. The Dolphin then asked if he knew the Piraeus. Not knowing that this was the name of a harbor in Athens, the Monkey said “Of course I know him. He is a close friend of mine”.
This upset the Dolphin, who understood he had been fed lies. So, he simply dropped the Monkey in water and left to him to his fate. Now there’s a sales communication lesson here. What could that be?”
SE: “Don’t monkey around in Customer conversations”
SC: (Laughing) “Of course, you're right. Plus, where is the time to monkey around? In the first 20 minutes of a sales call, look at what all you you must do - generate mutual trust, build your company’s credibility, win Customer’s confidence in you, heighten product awareness, uncover Customer need and trigger Customer interest in a specific offering.
If you master mirroring, you can get off to a flying start on all your calls. For example, you sense the mood and temperament of the Customer and reflect it in the way you converse with him.
You don’t attempt to tell a joke to a worried looking Customer. That won’t be mirroring and you will lose the Customer. You unobtrusively reflect back the Customer's inner state.
Or like the monkey discovered with the dolphin in the story, faking, bravado or bragging also cannot amount to mirroring ”
SE: “Specifically, what does mirroring involve?”
SC: “Let me simplify it for you. Here's what it is - You become a mirror of the Customer and the Customer starts seeing a part of himself in you. Easiest way to appreciate mirroring is to watch a parent and a child having fun. The child mirrors what the parent does and many times the parent mirrors the child's gestures and speech.
For mirroring to happen you must:
Practice 2 Behaviours that Help you Mirror
(1) Get Curious – Develop an unstoppable, childlike curiosity to understand the Customers’ interests. Genuine curiosity puts you in the same frequency as the Customer is in and lets you discover unarticulated needs. When you are curious, you know what to mirror and you can create aha moments which clinch deals and relationships.
(2) Become Empathetic – You must quickly slip under the Customer’s skin and understand Customer needs, challenges and anxieties even before the Customer spells them out. This helps you not only in mirroring but also proactively propose solutions that surprise and delight Customers.
Curiosity and empathy will help you practice effective mirroring. Without curiosity you won’t know what to mirror and without empathy mirroring feels like mockery to the Customer”
SE: “We got it Sir. Can we have some action points?”
SC: “Certainly. Here are:
3 Keys to Successful Mirroring in Customer Calls
1. Mirror Customer’s speech patterns and vocabulary – This means you consciously and naturally switch to a conversational style that mirrors the one the Customer is using.
For example make sure you bring in the jargon and terms of Customer’s industry with which he is comfortable, If he is soft spoken and deliberate, you mirror that too to quickly create rapport.
2. Be mindful of body language (even on video calls) – Watch for movements and gestures that offer clues to the internal state of the Customer and calibrate your responses to mirror them.
On video calls, attention spans, eye and physical movements tell a lot about the Customer’s interest or lack of it. If your Customer leans forward into the camera asking you a question, reciprocate by leaning into the camera when you answer it. If you lean back in your chair, when the Customer is leaning forward into the table, you can be seen as being not as caring and as concerned about the problem as the Customer is. And that can spoil your chances!
3. Practice mirroring in virtual meetings and phone conferences also – To mirror effectively in virtual and phone meetings ensure
(i) People are named and requested to speak
(ii) Chat box is put to good use
(iii) Questions are raised that attendees can answer
(iv) Camera focuses on all participants and all are free to unmute and speak
(v) Difficulties associated with attending virtual meetings are recognized and attendees are thanked for their contribution
(vii) Speech patterns are followed on phone meetings This includes things like pace, tempo, pitch and volume”
SE: Thank you so much Sir. We will get to work on this. We hope to show off our mirroring behaviours when we meet next”
Pause to reflect: Curiosity and empathy will help you practice effective mirroring. Without curiosity you won’t know what to mirror and without empathy mirroring feels like mockery to the Customer
Action Question: Pause to think about the upcoming Customer call. How can you use mirroring to build rapport in that call?
Related Readings: Mercuri Sales Resilience Behaviours Curious & Empathetic
Takeaway Quote: “The world is a great mirror. It reflects back to you what you are” - Thomas Dreier
About the series: This is the 93rd in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.