In part one, we discussed enhancing likeability by connecting with a greeting that conveys empathy and friendliness. We then examined the skill of asking open-ended questions which create “door openers” to conversations about the buyer’s needs. Next, we will cover how the right style of communication transmits positively to the prospect.
Adapting to people is just naturally trying to be more like them. It is choosing to modify our own style to communicate with people in their own language. In the sales world, we call it mirroring. Generally, we achieve this by adapting to our customer’s personality but without being phony. In other words, find some common ground in terms of our personality with the person we are speaking to.
Salespeople who make no attempt at basic mirroring may meet with certain prospects who, though amiable enough, seem to gradually shift into a stand-offish mode. The whole encounter seems to be lackluster, or worse, the experience may even turn into a small disaster. Other times, we meet those who just can’t seem to get enough of us. We just jell. The proverbial saying, “they are eating out of our hand,” happens.
Every salesperson agonizes over this experience from time to time. While there could be many explanations, there is a decent chance that one of these two prospects simply understands our personality style better than the other. By simple chance, you approached one in how they liked to buy or interact. You approached the other in the same way, but your personality and style of communication is not how they preferred to be interacted with.
Two people who are moving at different speeds and tempos are not going to communicate very well. Mirroring is a way to recognize discord and create resonance. It is another way to relate to your customer and help them relate to you.
Consider who we choose as our absolute best friend. We communicate alike. We share the same views and have similar interests. In selling, while we will not at once become best friends with our customer, it is important to warm up and get on common ground as quickly as possible. Doing this involves more than just making aimless small talk. We must also communicate with prospects differently because they buy differently. We must find a common culture.
Often salespeople try to sell in the way they would want to be sold. In doing this, we tend to apply a one-size-fits-all approach with every prospect. But your prospects will not all be like you. While trying to be completely ourselves or be natural, we fail to properly respond to different personality styles. As long as we are not too abrasive, this may not be a deal-breaker. However, let a customer find a salesperson who communicates like them, and that prospect will feel more connected, listen with believability to what we have to say.
The secret to mirroring is to blend your personality in coordination with the pace, tone, and speed of your prospect. Go at the pace of your customer, not yours. For example, do not be energetic or peppy with a customer who is cool, distant or removed. Do not be distant with a customer who tends to be warm. Do less talking with a prospect who is quiet and reserved. If the customer is smiling and relaxed, then you do the same. Certain customers want to go fast while others like to take it slow. Match how you proceed and communicate with the same style and rhythm of your prospect.
What many salespeople do not understand about being flexible is that there is an enormous difference between being adaptable and being fake. It is not a matter of putting on a fake personality–it is a matter of letting your prospect set the tone of the conversation by paying attention to their communication style. So, to leverage our position and be more likeable, it is important that instead of expecting our customer to adjust to us, it becomes our job to adjust to them. After all, customers are guests in our store who are looking to buy, and it is us who must please them.
Before we can be begin mirroring, we must be able to read the unique personality types we are trying to adapt to. The sooner we can do this, the sooner we will be able to adjust our strategy and sales approach. But with so many personalities out there, how to we do this quickly? In 1964, Dr. David W. Merrill, an industrial psychologist and university professor, and psychologist Roger Reid created a personality model that easily classifies basic personalities.
This model, which has been discussed in past articles, is simple to understand and allows one to identify four basic personality styles fast and easily by observing just two traits. First, is the personality mostly extroverted or mostly introverted? Second, is the personality mostly relationship-oriented or mostly non relationship-oriented? The answers yield four personality types: The Director, The Analytical, The Socializer and The Amiable.
With a little experience, once you begin paring these two basic determinants, these personality categories will begin to take on an intuitive logic. Of course, people rarely fit perfectly into these personality make-ups so be attentive to secondary personality traits.
The next issue will concentrate on the likeability factor involving listening and presenting. In the meantime, good selling to you!