I was at a networking event the other day, and observed something hilarious happening beside me. There was a gentleman trying to ‘sell’ himself to this woman at the table beside him. She was clearly a shy personality type, and would answer him in quiet, almost whisper-like responses. Yet he would bark back at her pretty loudly, and it seemed like she almost acted startled each time he spoke. At one point, he reached out and put his hand on her shoulder, which caused her to abruptly pull back and soon leave the table. It was obvious to me, as an outsider, that this guy clearly missed the ‘Sales 101’ class that could have taught him how to handle these situations. There’s a skill I’ve learned that could have helped this guy, called Mirroring. Mirroring is when you mimic the other person in one of these behaviors:
- Tone: If you call a customer service representative and they are speaking in a defensive, sarcastic tone, how does that make you feel? If you call them with a service problem, you want them to respond back to you with an understanding tone. People respond to people who are most like themselves or who they want to be.
- Pace or Tempo: Have you ever met someone who speaks so fast you can hardly understand their words? What about someone who speaks slowly, carefully choosing their words before they complete a sentence. If you have a client who falls into one of these categories, try adjusting your pace to theirs, and you’ll instantly build rapport.
- Volume: Have you ever been in a quiet space, perhaps a library or movie, and you find you’re sitting next to someone who doesn’t understand how to whisper? I remember meeting a friend at a Starbucks recently, and she was so incredibly loud that people kept turning and looking every time she started laughing.
- Touch: Think about when you reach in for a handshake at a meeting or event. When they extend a strong, firm hand, you mirror that. You grab them back, shaking their hand the way you think they do it. But what about when someone tries one of those ‘barely touching’ handshakes? You know the ones… where they grab only the tips of your fingers, in a sock puppet movement? What do you do? Well, you have to do the same. If you went in for a firm shake, you might startle the sock puppet guy.
- Posture & Gestures: Posture can be incredibly powerful. If you have a potential client sitting in front of you, pay attention to their posture throughout your meeting. If they lean in, try leaning in as well. If they use their hands to talk, use yours as well. You’d be surprised how little people pay attention to this, and it works.