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Build Trust and Rapport

Matching and mirroring your prospect's body language gestures is unconscious mimicry. It is a way of subconsciously telling another that you like them and agree with them. The next time you are at a social event, notice how many people are subconsciously matching one another. Likewise, when people disagree they subconsciously mismatch their body language gestures. The psychological principle behind matching and mirroring is that people want to do business with salespeople that they believe are similar to them.

You can build trust and rapport by deliberately, but subtly, matching your prospect's body language in the first fifteen minutes of the appointment. For example, if you notice that your prospect is crossing their arms, subtly cross your arms to match them. After you believe you have developed trust and rapport, verify it by seeing if your prospect will match you. Uncross your arms and see if your prospect will match and mirror you as you move into a more open posture. If you notice your prospect subconsciously matching your body language gestures, congratulations, this indicates that you have developed trust and rapport. Conversely, if you notice your prospect mismatching your body language gestures, you know trust and rapport has not been established and you need to continue matching and mirroring them.

Body Language Quiz

If you're a manager, consider using this quiz at your next training meeting to assess your sales team's current level of expertise. When sitting in on a sales appointment with your sales rep, be sure to incorporate nonverbal communications feedback in your critique.

Do you have a working knowledge of body language? See how many of the eight questions you can answer.


1) What emotion is associated with the "palm to chest" gesture?

  A. Superiority B. Critical judgment
  C. Sincerity D. Confidence

2) What is the meaning of the "thumb under the chin" gesture?

  A. Deceit B. Boredom
  C. Anxiety D. Critical judgment

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December 2005