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
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
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
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.
#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.
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
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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