What Is Mirroring in Sales?

Salesman looking in a mirror
•••

martin-dm/Getty Images

Mirroring, a technique used in sales can work well when done properly or create a disastrous situation when used incorrectly. In fact, mirroring is a technique that can work well in any workplace as well as in most interpersonal relationships.

With mirroring, one person adopts the physical and verbal behaviors of another as a way to build rapport and agreement during the selling process. Although that may sound a little creepy, when done correctly, it's subtle, and research supports its effectiveness. Also, mirroring helps bring both parties to a common ground and allows them to reach similar conclusions.

Mirroring in a General Sense

Mirroring tends to happen automatically between people who know each other well. Good friends will often use the same words or phrases and adopt the same gestures, particularly when they're together. Spouses do it, too, and anyone with a toddler knows that small children are experts at mirroring a person. Just think of the last time your three-year-old burst out with one of your favorite epithets. This kind of unintentional mirroring frequently happens in families with kids adopting the behavior they see in their parents and older siblings.

Using Mirroring in Sales 

Mirroring can serve as a powerful sales tool because it can lead your prospect into subconsciously believing that you're acting like him because you're his friend, or that you'd make a great friend because you're so much like him. Salespeople can use mirroring to build rapport and trust with their prospects quickly.

Picking up on clues about your prospect helps, particularly if you can do so before actually meeting with him face-to-face. If you notice an NRA bumper sticker on his car in the parking lot, for example, you might quickly change your screensaver to an NRA logo and adjust your laptop just a little so that he can see it when he approaches your desk. Again, subtlety is key. 

Specific Mirroring Techniques

One of the easiest techniques involves replicating the client's speech volume and pace. If your client talks loud and fast, you would do the same. Square your body directly to the person, making just the right amount of eye contact and giving her all of your attention. Also, research shows that when you nod three times in a row while listening, prospective clients feel more important and will speak three to four times longer.

What to Avoid When Mirroring

Physical mirroring can be tricky, particularly if you're going to do it successfully. Avoid mirroring a person's accent or copying any unusual phrases. Additionally, avoid mirroring any negative body language, such as crossed arms, turning away, or closing your eyes.

It's extremely important to be subtle, as mirroring only works if the prospect doesn't realize what you're doing and that you're doing it on purpose. If a prospect does pick up on your behavior, he may think you're making fun of him. This is particularly the case if you mimic something unique to him, such as the way he speaks certain words. Overt mirroring can feel insulting to a client, and you risk turning into a caricature of him, which is sure to offend. 

The Best Platform 

Mirroring generally works best during one-on-one, two-way conversations rather than in meetings or sales presentations that may involve only one-way communication with a group of other people. In these situations, though, you don't have to forgo mirroring altogether. If you notice a prospect using a certain word or phrase during a conversation, you might choose to add it to your presentation for a subtle boost later. 

  • Two men shaking hands at a business meeting

    What Does It Mean to Close a Sale?

  • African American couple talking to businesswoman

    Learn About Consultative Selling Techniques and How It Improves Sales

  • Salesperson listening to his customer's concerns

    Good Salespeople Are Not Just Talkers, They Are Active Listeners Too

  • Person selling themselves during a job interview

    What Is the Best Way to Use Soft Sales Techniques in a Job Interview?

  • Female Businesswoman Giving Presentation to Colleagues

    What Are the Various Types of Persuasive Skills?

  • In the Electronics Store Consultant Gives Professional Advice to a Young Woman, She Considers Buying New Tablet Computer and Needs Expert Opinion. Store is Modern, Bright and Has all the New Devices.

    Closing a Sale the Columbo Way

  • Cold Calling

    Perfect Your Cold Calls With These Phone Sales Tips

  • CeBIT 2012 Technology Trade Fair

    The Best Smartphone for Sales Reps

  • Dictionary

    What AIDA Means in Sales

  • Mature businessman and businesswoman shaking hands in new office

    These 8 Techniques Are Sure to Help You Close More Sales

  • Businessmen shaking hands

    How to Overcome the Fear of Closing a Sale

  • Couple buying new car at car dealership

    How to Close a Sale With These Three Foolproof Closing Techniques

  • Salesman and female customer using digital tablet in car dealership

    Why Client Sales Rapport Matters so Much — and How to Build It

  • Close-up view of graduation tassel and diploma for sales and marketing

    What Degree Do You Need to Work in Sales?

  • Business people discussing blueprint

    Brian Tracy Psychology of Selling - Prospecting

  • four business people having a sales meeting

    Meaning of WIIFM in Sales Keeping Prospect's Needs Top of Mind