Mirroring, Rapport, and Wile E. Coyote

AnvilThe other night I was listening to my kids discuss the intelligence of Wile E. Coyote. Hopefully you remember the cartoons where the coyote tried to catch The Road Runner but always ended up getting hurt.

When I looked at the TV, Wile E. Coyote was chasing The Road Runner into a painted tunnel on the side of a mountain. When The Road Runner ran into it the painted tunnel was an actual tunnel. Wile E. ran into it and ended up slamming into the painted side of the mountain.

Wile E. Coyote is always scheming and trying to trick The Road Runner. For example:

  • He mixes a box of Acme tornado seeds and with bird seed to try and trick The Road Runner to eat them and have a tornado blow The Road Runner away.
  • He sets up a bird seed trap to to drop an Acme anvil and crush The Road Runner.
  • He repeatedly sets traps with explosives (Acme brand, of course) to try and blow up The Road Runner. He always gets blown up instead.

If you’ve seen the classic cartoon then you know Wile E. Coyote always loses. He ends up the one eating the tornado seeds, falling off the cliff, being smashed by an anvil or falling boulders, and repeatedly blown up by his Acme dynamite.

The problem with Wile E. Coyote isn’t what he’s trying to do. It’s how he goes about it.

Wile E. Coyote reminds me of your typical traditional salesperson.

The salesperson has a slick presentation that leads you down a path to try and trap you into buying. He has his box of closing techniques so he can sharp-angle you into a commitment. When you present resistance he has his list of ways to overcome your objections.

Occasionally the salesman makes a sale. And when you deal with this type of salesperson, you only wish an anvil would fall from the sky and crush him.

It's Not About Closing Techniques

I started studying persuasion because of my disdain of obnoxious sales techniques. I hated the scripts and slick closing techniques. Think about it. Would you use scripts and closing techniques to influence your grandmother? (If so, close this page and never return)

Wile E. Coyote seems like the type of person who would trick his grandma.

If the Coyote wanted to seduce The Road Runner he could start with mirroring techniques. Studies have shown how mirroring others quickly deepens rapport. When you mirror another person you become like that person, and they unconsciously begin to like you more.

You may be familiar with mirroring. If you're face-to-face with me and you move your left arm I would move my right arm the same way. It's like you're looking in a mirror because I'm a mirror image of you.

Mirroring is a fantastic way to build rapport. And when you're in rapport you can ask better questions. You can find out your customer's values. You click with the other person in ways that allows communication on multiple levels.

My bride always laughs at me because people naturally open up and tell me their life story. For example, we will be talking with someone, who's helping us at a store, and in a couple minutes they're telling me about bizarre and intimate details of their life. It's really fun and it's not difficult.

I start mirroring long before I'm face-to-face with someone. From 20 to 30 feet away you can start to see how someone unconsciously signals a "hello" and mirror it back. By the time you walk up they have that feeling they know you, as if you met before.

If Wile E. Coyote knew this technique he just might have caught The Road Runner. He wouldn't have had to rely on the the silly traps, tricks, and other cheesy Acme products to try and catch The Road Runner.

Of course, it's a cartoon and this would never happen. But it can happen for you.

I like things that make my life friction free. That's why I wrote my book. Mirroring helps you avoid resistance. You can influence without applying extra pressure. You're not in a battle with your customer.

Selling becomes a dance with your customer. You're in close, each taking turns leading, moving in step together. It's comfortable, fun, and both sides enjoy the process.

Image by anbra33.

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