Table of Contents
What is Sales Mirroring?
Sales mirroring is a psychology-based strategy sales reps use to build rapport with their prospects. It involves matching the prospect’s tone of voice and speech patterns to create a sense of familiarity that appeals to their subconscious. By picking up on verbal and non-verbal cues, the salesperson can establish a connection with them and build trust more quickly.
Sellers use sales mirroring during cold outreach, qualification calls, sales demos, contract negotiation, and just about every other customer-facing aspect of the sales process. They may even use it in email/text conversations, using certain words and phrases to subtly mimic the prospect’s sense of humor and way of communicating.
Behavioral reflection aims to help sales reps better understand their prospects’ emotions and thought processes. It can influence decision-making by subtly suggesting the sales rep is on the same wavelength as them.
- Matching technique in sales
- Sales mimicking
- Behavioral reflection
Why Salespeople Use the Mirroring Technique
A truly connected, personalized, and customer-centric sales approach starts with learning the buyer’s behavior and figuring out how to make them more comfortable.
Here are some reasons why sellers use the sales mirroring technique:
- By reducing resistance from prospects who feel like they’re being pushed to buy something they don’t need, effective sales mirroring leads to a faster sales cycle.
- Every customer relationship starts with the selling process. Building a meaningful connection sets the foundation for future interactions and encourages repeat customers.
- Behavioral reflection creates a dialogue rather than a monologue. The buyer feels comfortable, heard, and respected when they can share common experiences with their reps.
- Very few B2B buyers want to interact with sellers these days. In a world where most are lousy, someone a buyer can feel connected to is a breath of fresh air.
- Mirroring encourages active listening and focus when forming a connection with customers. Putting the focus back on the customer improves the buying experience.
Benefits of Sales Mirroring
“Birds of a feather flock together.”
Corny, but it’s basic psychology. The similarity-attraction effect explains how people tend to be more attracted to someone they deem similar to them.
At some point in human history, survival depended on a sense of community. That feeling of belonging still plays itself out today.
Only about 3% of buyers say they fully trust salespeople. the driving force behind the lack of trust is the obvious fact that sellers make a living off of commission.
By adjusting your body language, speaking style, and word choice to match theirs, you create an atmosphere where prospects feel understood. When they see similarities between you and themselves, they’re more likely to see you’re trying to help them.
Salespeople are often evaluated on their ability to close deals. That doesn’t do any good if there’s no connection between the seller and customer.
The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes is called empathy, and it’s a cornerstone of successful selling. Mirroring gives sales professionals insight into buyers’ feelings when discussing their challenges, goals, and decisions.
When it comes time, they can use their emotional intelligence to craft a solution that meets the deeper needs of the buyer in addition to their business goals.
A lot of sellers struggle with buyer engagement because they don’t create an engaging dialogue. In many cases, they go straight for their pitch, not understanding that communication is a two-way street.
Sales mirroring helps sales reps listen more intently and better engage in conversation with buyers. This ultimately leads to improved communication, helping the seller close more deals and the customer work with someone who truly benefits them.
It’s harder to say “no” to someone when there’s a bond between them. Mirroring plays a major role in forming that bond.
When buyers feel understood on a deeper level, they’re more likely to hear your recommendations and relay them to the rest of their team. When the buyer calls themselves to action, sellers don’t need to use sleazy tactics to close.
How to Conduct Sales Mirroring
1. Start with verbal cues.
Most of the time, the first sales interaction is over email, phone, or video conference. With this in mind, pay attention to how the buyer talks.
- Do they tend to say the same words or phrases?
- Do they pause often or talk at a certain speed?
- How much professionalism do they use when they speak?
- Do they have a sense of humor?
Use your listening skills to pick up on their tone ov voice, way of phrasing, and choice of words. Be subtle when you use their style. Don’t mimic them word-for-word or act like you’re interested in something you’re not.
2. Evaluate nonverbal communication cues.
Remote sales won’t have as many body language cues to pick up on, but enterprise sales, investor pitches, and face-to-face meetings will.
If the buyer appears relaxed, shift your posture to look more relaxed. Sit up or lean back in your chair, depending on the situation. Only emulate their behavior if their body language is positive or neutral.
3. Find common ground.
Some buyers want to get straight to business — others like to chit-chat. If they buyer opens up about their interests and personal life, add to the conversation by doing the same.
Share a story or two about your own life. If possible, find commonalities that connect you both and create an atmosphere of understanding.
4. When they answer your questions, respond by summarizing them.
Repeating what your prospect says to you lets them know you’ve been listening (and, more importantly, understand their pain points). It also gives them a chance to elaborate on what they’ve been saying if you missed something important.
5. Inject your own personality.
The best salespeople are agreeable and easy to get along with. Mirroring is part of that, but it’s important to remember that buyers are people, too.
Being authentic and relatable is the key to successful sales mirroring. Stick to the buyer’s behavior, but don’t be afraid to add your own flavor and personality. Be genuine in your conversations and create a bond worth investing in.
6. Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions let you learn more about buyers while also helping them better understand their own needs and motivations.
Eliminate Yes/No questions. Instead, try something like “How would it help your business if you could solve X?”
The easiest way to do this is by being genuinely curious. Every time you think it’s necessary, encourage your prospect to keep talking by asking them for further context.
Open-ended questions create an engaging conversation while giving you better insight into buyers’ needs. When you get your buyer talking about their situation, it also provides more opportunities for sales mirroring.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Aspects of Mirroring
Nonverbal sales mirroring includes:
- Facial expressions
- Bodily movements
- Eye contact
Verbal sales mirroring includes:
- Word choice
- Tone of voice
- Speech pitch and speed
- Volume control
Sales Mirroring Mistakes to Avoid
Mirroring Specific Traits or Unique Expressions
Avoid mirroring a buyer’s specific expressions, mannerisms, or words. Especially during an in-person sales meeting, this can make you look too obvious and seem disingenuous.
Instead, only emulate the general behavior of the buyer. Respond to them as you naturally would, but be sure to incorporate some of the traits you’ve picked up from your conversations.
Mirroring Negative Body Language
If the buyer has negative body language (e.g., crossed arms or furrowed eyebrows), don’t mirror it. This will only reinforce their current mood and give them a reason to distrust you.
Instead, pick up on their negative cues by trying to shift the conversation to a more positive atmosphere. Use engaging open-ended questions and listen intently to find common ground.
If they continue to appear negative, quickly ask if you’re on the right track to make sure they feel heard. This gives them the chance to tell you if something has been bothering them and help them find a solution.
Reflection Without Meaning
If you’re just repeating words or phrases back without understanding their meaning, it won’t do much good. Take time to really listen and think about what the buyer is saying so that you can genuinely relate to them.
Once it’s your turn to reply, avoid sounding robotic or rigid. Be conversational when you respond to your prospect to send your own verbal cues to them.
Overt Mirroring or Mimicry
The biggest mistake sellers make is being too obvious with their sales mirroring. Even if they don’t notice immediately, prospects often get a weird feeling when someone mirrors them too closely.
To keep things natural, try not to think about your mirroring behavior too much. Just pay attention to the obvious verbal and nonverbal cues of the buyer. Don’t focus obsessively on their every move.
Other Ways to Build Rapport with Customers
Sales mirroring only works when used in conjunction with other strategies. Here are a few more ways to build rapport with customers:
Discussing Common Experiences
Common experiences humanize the sales process. Some buyers are ready and willing to open up right off the bat. Others take some time. If they aren’t revealing much, it’s the seller’s job to do so first (little by little, of course). When you find a shared passion or interest, it can help boost the bond between you and create an atmosphere of trust.
It’s just as important for sales professionals to read between the lines with what buyers are saying as it is to pay attention to their body language.
When you’re listening, ask clarifying questions to make sure you understand the buyer’s perspective and needs. While they’re revealing crucial information, start thinking about how to personalize the product to fit their requirements.
Once they’re finished, use sales mirroring tactics to paraphrase it back to them. After you’ve gathered information, lead into the solution.
Use a Positive Communication Style
When speaking with buyers, it’s the seller’s job to set the tone. This seems counterintuitive to sales mirroring, but that’s exactly the point.
Be friendly and open in your conversations. Avoid negative language or tones that make you seem disinterested, frustrated, or impatient.
Respectfully disagree if you have to, but focus on asking questions that help you find a way to add value for the prospect. During sales engagement, prioritize what you can do, not what you can’t do.
People Also Ask
What is an example of mirroring in sales?
Suppose a prospect for a well-known CRM software vendor expresses their frustration about the lack of appropriate reporting features in their current system. The salesperson, instead of immediately launching into a pitch about their product’s superior reporting capabilities, might respond by saying, “So you’re fed up with your current CRM’s reporting capabilities. Can you tell me more about the kind of reports you need and the issues you’ve been experiencing?”
This response mirrors the prospect’s frustration and acknowledges their problem, while also promoting further conversation. The salesperson, while maintaining a positive tone of voice and steady eye contact, subtly mirrors the prospect’s body language to build rapport and trust.
Through this process, the salesperson does not only sell a product but also provides a solution to the prospect’s specific problem.
What are tips to improve mirroring sales techniques?
Sellers can improve their approach to sales mirroring by focusing on their personality first. Every sales professional has a unique set of skills and traits, which they can use to set themselves apart while still relating to customers.
To avoid sounding robotic or seeming insincere, sellers need to first apply conversational tactics they use in their personal lives. Once they have that mastered, they can figure out the best ways to relate to their customers.