Years ago when I was employed as a sales person, I attended a meeting with a gentleman. From the moment I walked into the board room of this big corporate organisation, I immediately got the impression that he wasn’t really tuned in to anything I had to say. As soon as I realised this, I started matching and mirroring his body language. We were sitting across the board room table from each other and he had his arms resting on the arms of the chair and was tapping his fingers. I subtly did exactly the same thing at the same rate. He didn’t pick up on it at all but within 5 minutes he seemed much more responsive and we went on to have a great working relationship that still exists today.
The value of non-verbal communication is still not fully appreciated in the business world, though many more executives and business people are learning and trusting that body language and simple actions can be the difference between a deal being made or broken.
Selling is really a process, not an action. The pressure comes when we start to see selling as purely transactional. This works okay in some situations (at a supermarket for example) – not so well in others (service businesses like hairdressing or coaching – or even choosing an accountant or financial planner).
So the first step in the process is to establish rapport – because mostly people choose to buy from those people whom they like.
Without rapport it’s harder to accomplish everything. Most people aim to build rapport by uncovering common experiences or finding common ground. This is fine if you have unlimited time to build rapport, or if you have a guarantee of further meetings, but it’s not so useful in a business context where you may only have a few seconds and no time for chit-chat. Matching and mirroring (done subtly) is an almost fail-safe way of building rapport in just a few minutes.