When you meet new people, how do you connect with them quickly? Why are some people able to connect deeper, faster than others? Perhaps shared interests, mutual activities, similar feelings do play a role, but social psychology says a more primal subconscious process is at play. For sales, this is a process that can be used to your advantage.
Instinctually, we connect with those who are similar to us. However, the actual process of connection is far more than sharing a favorite meal. We connect with those who speak like us, move like us, and look like us. In short, we instinctively like those who behave like ourselves.
In order to befriend those who we deem important, our minds subconsciously analyze that person’s body language and speech patterns, then mirror it. Mirroring is simply defined as “the behavior in which one person subconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another.” Researchers call this process accommodation, and studies consider to what degree someone’s communication patterns changed from their default in a conversation.
Scientists have determined that mirroring is an innate human trait, driven by dedicated neurons aptly called mirror neurons. During a conversation, we imitate one other’s expressions, sentence construction, and even word meanings.
The default mode for prospects is defensive – any techniques we can use to put them at ease early can only help us have a better human connection, opening the door to more opportunity.
Sales reps can leverage mirroring to develop better relationships with their prospects, become more likeable, and increase their chances of making a sale. In Stanford and Northwestern University studies designed to unearth the potential of mirroring in negotiations, negotiators who mimicked their partner reached a deal 67 percent of the time, while those who did not utilize mirroring only achieved a 12.5 percent close rate.
Recommended ebook: Socratic Sales: Master Questioning
A different group tested the effectiveness of mirroring by studying its impact on the amount of tips a waitress could garner from her customers. Mirroring increased tip size by 68% by making the customers want to be more generous towards the waitress that mirrored them.
Furthermore, Harvard Business Review reported that in another mirroring study, prospects who were mirrored were more likely to rate the sales rep and their product positively, which is crucial for upsells, customer retention, and referrals.
The shift to an inside sales model has revolutionized sales. However, it does make human interactions more difficult since the only communication channel available is voice, especially on initial sales calls when it is just a phone conversation or a slide presentation. Thankfully studies show that vocal tone and pace account for 35 percent of what is expressed, meaning there are many factors you can observe and match in order to mirror your prospects over the phone.
Recommended ebook: Socratic Sales: Master Questioning
The human voice has many variables, but for the purposes of phone conversations, we will give our attention only to those that can be both recognized and modified without being the in the physical presence of another person. These are quality, loudness, length, pacing, and emotion.
In this context, quality refers to someone’s vocabulary and usage of slang. Pay close attention to your prospect’s word usage. Do they use more advanced words, do they boil down complex ideas into simple terms, or do they stick to basic ideas? Do they use industry jargon or forego the slang? Additionally, are they formal or casual? Attempt to match their word usage, as well as the terms they utilize to ensure you a “speaking the same language.”
Loudness is the volume of speech, from soft and quiet to loud and boisterous. Observe if your prospect is soft spoken or projects their voice more. This especially important over the phone, as the loudness can portray underlying personality traits. You don’t want to overwhelm a soft speaker or frustrate a more energetic one.
Length measures how long one person talks without interruption, or a “talk streak.”. When they begin to speak, does it continue for an extended point of time, or are the statements short? If a prospect is long-winded, be cautious of how precisely you match their speaking. Be long enough to provide thorough, well explain answers, but still brief enough that you don’t overdo your talk time. But, don’t be too brief that you are providing incomplete information. If you are using ringDNA, use the talk streak average metric to be aware of your default length, and avoid lecturing clients by talking for too long.
Pacing is simply a fast or slow speaker. It also considers the amount of silence before, after, and even during their talking time. Speaking slowly may annoy a fast talker, just as speaking quickly can overwhelm a slower one. The use of silence in sales is also incredibly powerful. Observe where your prospect pauses. Do they leave time before they reply to you, leaving time to think about what they will say?
Which emotions are conveyed through speaking and how significant they are. While some people’s speech remains steady no matter how they feel, others express their full feelings. Can you tell if your prospect is excited or relaxed? Match that feeling to better connect with them.
Pay attention to each of these characteristics next time you are on the phone and attempt to match them. With practice, you will be able to better pick up on each aspect, and the connections you build may surprise you.
Zack is a Sales Content Specialist at RingDNA. He is passionate about solving everyday problems and increasing performance through innovative technology. Zack has worked directly with sales teams and understands the challenges they face on a daily basis. When he's not developing and sharing knowledge at RingDNA, he loves being outdoors, hiking, and coffee.