You can’t approach every sales meeting the same way: Every person comes into a meeting with a different perspective, attitude, and priorities. It’s important for any sales team to pay careful attention to tone, so here are five hints to help mirror clients:
1. Ask questions
For most people, their foremost priority is themselves, so give your client an opportunity to talk about them! This helps in two major ways: first, people are often charmed by being given a platform to speak and be heard, and second because the more you know about the person, the better you will be able to suit their needs in a sale. Even very simple questions, like “How has your year been?” can reveal a lot. If they have good news, you can frame your pitch as a way to keep the good coming, and if things aren’t going their way, you can position yourself as a solution to their problem.
2. Be human
No one likes to be advertised to. If you’re following a strict script, it can come across as cold or clinical, and people can get the sense you’re speaking to the client in your head, rather than the real person in front of you. So improvise a bit, and don’t be afraid to reveal similarities you might share with the client! Vulnerability, sincerity and care are difficult, especially with strangers, but without them people may see you as untrustworthy, or feel taken advantage of. If things are flowing naturally, they will be far more willing to hear what you have to offer.
3. Mirror body language and word choice
Does the client have any distinctive movements, or phrases they tend to use? Try to match these. People naturally tend to imitate and be influenced by those around them, so presenting subtle similarities between yourself and the client can quietly let them know that you share values. For instance, I have been using “fantastic” as a go-to synonym for good lately, so in conversation, if you come back to me with a “Fantastic!”, I am hit with a quiet feeling of familiarity and recognition. The beauty of this kind of mirroring is that it happens whether you notice it or not, so when you apply a bit of subtle attention to the ways you’re doing it, you can build a sense of connection very early on in a conversation. You have to be careful with this type of mirroring though, because if the person becomes too aware that you’re doing it they may become self-conscious about their linguistic and physical tics.
4. Know when to quit
Pitching does not mean pushy. You have to pay close attention to the client’s level of interest in what you’re saying, so that you can know where to lead them. If someone is very engaged, asking questions, or talking about following up with you, they likely want all the relevant information about your pitch: where they can go, the price, the details. On the other hand, if someone responds to you reaching out with something like “I hope you’re not just advertising at me”, you should, at most, suggest to them what the offer was going to be, but that it’s alright that they’re disinterested and to have a good day. The biggest challenge is the person who needs convincing: they’re passively interested, but not necessarily sold. The right tone here is casual and conversational, making sure they’re aware of your product, but taking the time to build rapport first, even if they may drift away during this process. It’s always better to lose a prospective sale than to alienate someone or dominate a conversation.
5. Just listen
It seems too simple, but all this advice really boils down to listen. Really, truly listen. It can be easy to get wrapped up in your own goals in a sales context, but it’s important to never let that happen. You can always tell if someone is listening attentively, and it’s vital to feel that someone truly hears what you’re saying in detail. If you’re able to catch subtle parts of what another person is saying, or fully empathize with their position, they will feel it, they will appreciate it, and they will be far more likely to collaborate with you when they feel they are heard.