Building Trust by Mirroring

How to building trust while on a sales call?

Learn how to build trust on a call by mirroring your prospect.
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Building Trust by Recognizing and Mirroring Your Prospect

© 2006 David Peterson

If you want to sell then you have to build trust with your prospects. This needs to be done quickly, especially if you are selling over the phone. People buy from people they trust Ė period. They will never buy from people with whom they have suspicions.

So how do you remove the suspicions in your sales pitch? How do you build trust when the prospect canít see how sincere you are? How do you know if you have some semblance of trust built?

Here is an easy way to know if your trust is lacking. Have you ever tried to build rapport by breaking the ice with a joke, or have you asked about the weather in the prospectís town and you donít get any response? If so, you have a trust issue. Itís not that the prospect is dull, or that they donít have the time, itís that the prospect doesnít believe (read trust) you have anything of value to say to them.

In sales we need to build value. Building trust will help you build value in the products you sell because the prospect will believe in you and your company. Here are a few advanced selling techniques you should be doing to build that trust.

Step #1 Ė Listen to the prospect. In this case Iím not just listening to the answer the prospect has given. Iím listening to how the customer gave the answer. What was their tone of voice, how fast were they speaking? Can I pick up a dialect? Are they even responding at all?

Step #2 Ė Once you pick up the pace of the conversation, the tone of the prospect and the dialect, try to put yourself in the customerís shoes. Once you are in their shoes mirror yourself to become just like the prospect. Recognize the tone and the dialect, and then mirror the pace. You will become a bit of a chameleon. 

When trying to mirror my prospects I place them into a couple of ďbuckets.Ē I break them down to two major categories: What type of person I am dealing with and where they are originally from. Here are some of the traits I listen for when speaking with a prospect for the first time. 

What type of person am I speaking to? Learn how to recognize the personality traits of that prospect. These are four main classifications:

  • Amicable Ė A very friendly person who will quickly become your best friend. You are more likely to have a conversation with an amicable person while going through the sales process. You need to stick to the sales process with the amicable prospect or you will just end up talking about the weather.

  • Technical - Needs every last question answered completely to their satisfaction. This type of person tends to drive salespeople crazy with the 500 questions followed by weeks of emails. Donít expect to sell this person quickly. This will be a very methodical, laid out sales process. If you are not a technical person you may want to pass on this type of prospect.

  • Stoical Ė The stoic prospect is your classic CEO who is a bit cold and dispassionate. Typically the stoic prospect is a decision maker or a gatekeeper. They can be very quiet and in deep thought. You never know if this person is listening to you so you have to use trial closes. Use the trial close to see if they are listening and to check for their actual interest in your product.

  • Vulnerable Ė This person is easily influenced, but donít get too excited with the vulnerable prospect. They can show up as a returned product once one of the other three types intervenes. They buy from you because you called them and you made a sales pitch that made sense. They may not actually need the product which causes the return. 

Listen for the dialects. People from different regions of the country tend to react differently while on the phone. Knowing where a person is from, not just where they are living now can help you recognize and mirror their traits.

  • Southern States Ė These prospects tend to slow down the conversation. They are not always in a big hurry. The southern accent gives them away. They tend to be very polite, which means they may take the time to listen to your pitch. The Southerner will find a nice way to tell you no.

  • Northern States Ė The Northeast cities are exceptionally populated. The prospects are fast talkers, and they tend to be in a hurry. Northerners donít have a lot of time so they tend to tell you what you need to know. Listen for the Northern accent so you can pick up the pace of your conversation. 

  • Midwestern States Ė Very American dialect. They do not speak with an accent and they speak at a regular pace. Prospects from the Midwest will give you the time to a least make your pitch.

  • Western States Ė Most of the western states are unpopulated. This group of people tends to be willing to talk. They usually do not have a strong accent. The slower the pace of conversation the more rural the location. The exception is California. Since the metropolitan CA areas are a melting pot of the USA you can get any type of person when you call in the CA cities. This melting pot of prospects can include the surfer and the suburban valley residents. You will instinctively hear these two dialects. Outside of the cities you get a laidback prospect. 

Your object is to build trust. You may have to become a bit of a chameleon but that doesnít mean you are supposed to misrepresent yourself or your company. Donít try to give a fake Southern or Northern accent. You will sound silly. The aim is to recognize the type of prospect you have so you can put yourself in their shoes. 

Here are some examples of why you have to do this mirroring. If you recognize that you have a Southern-Technical prospect on the phone you should immediately slow down your conversation, take a patient pill and dig in for the long sales process. Trust is built when you are perceived as working hard for this technical prospect. 

A Northern-Amicable prospect will rapidly speak to you about everything under the sun. You will have to not only pay attention and keep up with the conversation but you will have to keep the conversation heading down the sales process. Trust is built because you took the time to listen to their story instead of being a pushy salesperson.

A Midwestern-Vulnerable person may sound like the perfect prospect. You are cruising through the 1st 30 minutes of the sales process with that gut feeling that a sale is imminent. However, if you donít probe for the prospects needs properly you may find yourself 2 hours into a conversation and realize that the prospect is going through bankruptcy. The problem here is the vulnerable person trusts everyone. That immediate trust is what allowed you to begin the conversation.

Prospects buy from people they trust. To gain that trust you need to quickly define what ďbucketĒ your prospect falls into before you get too deep into the sales process. If you want to have more of your prospects traveling through your sales process then try to recognize their tone and their dialect then mirror their pace. 


David Peterson

David Peterson

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