Sales & marketing

Are you fluent in body language?

In face-to-face meetings, non-verbal communication is a widely overlooked aspect of successful sales. This article examines body language in the sales arena. Consciously using your own body in certain ways, as well as ‘listening’ to your client’s body language and responding appropriately all contribute to an increased success rate when selling. As with nearly every ‘sales technique’, it’s really just about connecting and building relationships, because when rapport is strong, sales are made!

Non-verbal communication is an important aspect of business interactions. A famous report [Mehrabian] concluded that only 7% of communication is verbal – what you actually say – while 93% is made up of tone (38%) and body language (55%) – how you say it and what you do while saying it. These stats are enough to make anyone suddenly sit up a little straighter! How you present yourself in a selling environment can turn a client on or off you instantly. From the strength of your handshake to your posture, gestures and even how you use your eyebrows, if you don’t know how to send the right non-verbal messages, you’ll lose a client immediately.

So what does good body language look like in the sales arena? Well, you know how much I go on about the importance of listening. But listening with your eyes… there’s a whole new can of worms! Effective body language has three key components:

  • listening or reading your client’s body language – what they are saying to you;
  • reacting to their body language – figuring out what will press their buttons; and
  • using your own behaviour sensitively to get them on board before making your offer.

If you can play all three of these cards skilfully when face-to-face with a client, you will get what you want from the meeting.

Here are four different body language and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) techniques to look out for and use:

  1. Open vs. Closed

Sitting in a meeting with your arms crossed and eyebrows lowered is a surefire way to put a client off wanting to do business with you. This stance can look defensive, agitated and you can come across as bored. Contrastingly, sitting in a relaxed position, arms by your sides with an open facial expression shows that you are calm, in control and honest.

  1. Forward vs. Backward

This is an interesting one! By leaning in toward you client you give off an air of confidence and exclusivity, you show that you are committed, engaged and paying attention. Be wary of leaning too close though. An uninvited invasion of personal space isn’t likely to get you very far!

  1. Anchoring

Everyone who’s ever shown an interest in psychology knows Pavlov’s Dogs and the theory of conditioning. Well, sales interactions can work in the same way. Use leaning forward and reclining, for example, when your client speaks positively or negatively of past experiences. This gives you a clear non-verbal indicator of positivity – leaning in – when it comes to closing the sale.

  1. Mirroring

Finally, mirroring; an amazingly useful tool and exactly what it says on the tin. Reading a client’s body language and mirroring it puts them at ease. It shows that you’re on the same page and is a great way to build a connection between you. Start your meeting by mirroring their mannerisms. Do they lean in to converse, use their hands while they talk or sit back, cool and calm? Gradually shift to your own way of presenting and if they follow, you’ve got them on board, if not, move back to mirroring them and keep listening!

In a face-to-face meeting, pitching your sale in a way that matches the client’s way of thinking makes them want to say yes. Conversely, a lack of connection will turn them off, even if the offer you’re making is good. People buy people and, as I’ve said many times before, building strong relationships with your clients is how you get them on board. Reading body language, matching it and being adaptable in your style of communication helps build the kind of rapport which leads to sales.

When pitching, verbal and non-verbal communication work together to build trust and rapport. Both are critical and learning to read and use body language effectively will vastly improve sales success.

Julie Futcher
The Business Bulletin

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Are you fluent in body language?

by Julie Futcher Time to read: 2 min