Building Rapport: Can Cadence Mirroring Help?

Does mirroring the cadence of your customer really help close the sale? We take a look at the numbers.
Lina Eroh

The ability to maintain a trusting relationship has long been a keystone to sales success. Common knowledge says that the closer a sales rep gets to a client, the more likely the relationship will end with a sale.

Find common ground. Build rapport. Tell stories. All of these tips attest to the fact that relationships sell.

But what exactly does the relationship look like at the first point of contact? In our previous post, we talked about how managers employ all sorts of tools to generate leads and increase dials, but fail to focus on one critical piece: the conversation between reps and potential customers.

How do we starting laying the foundation for a great relationship from an initial cold call? We train reps to understand customers’ needs and wants, to get into their heads, and to build a relationship. One way to do this is by listening and asking many questions.

Another way, at least according to psychology research, is to mirror the cadence of the person on the other end of the line.

The basic premise is that the speed and manner in which we speak should mirror that of the person to whom we are talking. If someone is speaking fairly quickly, up your pace. A slow talker? Bring it down a notch to stay even.

Doing so well supposedly builds rapport and empathy, which makes cadence mirroring the perfect tool for sale reps.

Or does it?

We looked at our own data to see how our most successful reps spoke to customers, and the results really surprised us.

Despite conventional wisdom that slow talkers like slow talkers, and fast talkers like fast talkers, the data showed something different.

We’ve previously told you that the longer the conversation, the higher chance of a won deal. What we also found, surprisingly, was that in these longer conversations, the reps were speaking, on average, 20% faster than the customer.

In fact, speaking 20% faster led to conversations 9x longer! Whatever the speed of the prospect, for the rep, faster was better.

So what’s going on here? Are these reps not building rapport? Or are they simply doing it in an unconventional way?

Faster talking speed could be equated to enthusiasm for the product, which is likely infectious for those on both sides of the conversation. Faster speed also demonstrates authority, convincing the listener that the rep truly understands the product being sold. This is a bit tricky, since we found that speaking more than 20% faster correlates to lost deals.

It seems that there’s a magic window for cadence mirroring that leads to better results and more deals. What that exact number is differs per organization, but it’s likely to not be a perfect mirror. For us, speaking too fast or too slow led to more lost deals, while hitting the 20% faster window led to positive returns.

By using TalkIQ, you can unearth the patterns of your best repsand replicate those insights across your sales organization.

And if speaking just 20% faster leads to more wins, what sales manager wouldn’t make that change? It’s a no-brainer.