Understanding Body Language

Understanding Body Language

Sometimes what someone says does not even involve words.

Rather, it is a person’s actions and gestures that will tell if in a split second whether we are being accepted by them or not. This is especially true in business.

The first time that you walk into someone’s office to meet with them, their actions from the start will either make you feel welcome and at ease or they make you feel uneasy and apprehensive.

We make decisions and form opinions in those very first few seconds. We formulate our impression of them and they also do the same for you.

So how can you ensure that you will make a positive first impression before even opening your mouth?

We should not judge so quickly, but we are all guilty of this. You need to come across with confidence.

Brian Flanagan, the top sales trainer for the Ziglar Corporation, says that timid sales people have skinny children. Do not have skinny children. Learn to have confidence.

If the client tends to lean forward, for example, they are showing interest. Whether or not their arms are crossed or not also sends a completely different set of messages.

Are they closing themselves off to you or are they in a position where they are trying to show their authority?

Every sales person should be aware and pay attention to the prospective client’s body language.

I am not trying to get all physical or psychological on you, but there really are a lot of things involved in face-to-face meetings that we don’t even think about.

If you tune in to them they can really help you get on a closer level with your client.

By monitoring these gestures and body language movements throughout the meeting, it will clue you in as to how you should proceed with your pitch or your presentation.

Do your homework. Spend some time online or buy a book or take a class researching the different types of body language and how you can use it to benefit relationship building during your sales or staff meetings.

Once you hone in to them you will be amazed at how many signals they are sending and the more you do it the more perfected you will become at it.

Now after paying attention to your client’s gestures, I suggest that you turn the mirror around on yourself. Be sure that you are giving off the right impression as well. Wouldn’t it be horrible if you were prepared to give this great presentation, but your constant stroking of your chin or crossing your arms tightly against your body will show your clients that you are nervous and insecure. Not exactly traits that you want to see in someone who may be involved in signing a million dollar deal.

Being effective in sales or being a successful leader all stems down to the fact that you must always be aware of how every action results in a reaction.

Make sure that you are coming across strong, confident, and intelligent. Not only in your words, but in your body language as well.

Every sales person must maintain a constant balance during the sales process and if just one of them tips the scales too much in one direction, the whole relationship and/or deal could go south.

Selling is not an easy occupation. That is why the strongest salesmen will survive. Be sure to arm yourself with every tool necessary to ensure that you will stand out among the rest and that you will pay attention to detail and see things that other people will miss.

Being sensitive to the body language of prospective customers can be a very useful skill for salespeople if they want to capitalize on selling opportunities.

Which salesman would not want to do that?

What signs should you look for?

Here are some questions and answers that will help you understand the importance of body language.

 1.How can a better understanding of body language help me sell?

The answer is body language plays an important part in every interaction. If you are not observing it, you may have little idea how your customer is receiving your proposal. Whether you are working door-to-door, in a shop, or around a board room table, being able to read body language can help you get the best out of the situation.

It will help you know when to close the deal for example, when to give more information, or when to just shut up. If you can improve your own body language and learn how to read your buyer’s body language, it will help you make more sales. It will also tell you when to get out the door.

 2.What key signals should I watch for?

Look for nods, even if they are just tiny movements, as these are positive signals. Of if they are leaning towards you it shows that they are really interested in what they are hearing. You should also look for the negative movements. Squinted eyes mean they don’t quite understand what you are talking about.

Pay attention for arms crossed when they are talking to you or palms down. Open hand gestures show someone is talking openly to you. If your client’s hands when he or she is talking to you are open, that means that they are receptive, they trust you, and they are giving you information.

If their palms are down, that means they are controlling. They don’t have enough information and they want to control you, they don’t trust you yet. You want your client to be telling you things with an open palm. It means they are giving you information.

You should also look to see if they are drumming their fingers in any way, as this may indicate that they are bored or frustrated. Look at sequences of patterns and gestures, though don’t just read one on its own.

 3.How should I modify my own body language?

They ideal way is to mirror. Reflecting back the body language of your customer. It gets your client to relax and shows that you have empathy. Even if they are objecting to some point, you can show that you are trying to reach a solution.

Be careful not to mirror everything, because that person may pick up on that you are using this technique and that is not a good situation. The easiest thing to mirror is a posture, but people also find themselves mirroring breathing and blinking rates.

If your client is very relaxed and kind of leaned back, but say they have their hands crossed behind their head, maybe you can relax a little as well and just show the same posture that he or she is showing to reflect back that “Hey, this is a very comfortable situation.”

 4.Can body language tell me when to close a deal?

Absolutely. Buyers give off buying signals all the time. They give you signals when they have heard enough. They may for example lean forward as to say “Okay, let’s get down to business.” If they pick up and fiddle with a pen, it is likely that they are saying “Hey, give me the paperwork and let’s get this done.”

If you are in a parking lot and talking and the person pulls out his keys and starts twirling his keys, if the keys are in the hand he is telling you it is time to go.

 5.Can I train myself to understand body language?

Again, absolutely. It can help just to go out for a cup of coffee and watch the world go by. Pick up on what is going on and what you think people are doing right and what you think they are doing wrong. Try this. Find a group of people and sit about 30 or 40 feet away from them where you cannot hear their conversation.

Just by observing their body language, try to determine who is the client and who is the salesperson. Tell me if they understand what they are talking about, if they are receiving it, or if are they really with the salesperson in that process or not.

You can learn a lot by watching other people and studying their body language. Adopt and adapt the behavior of the people that you feel most comfortable with… but emulate, don’t copy. Incongruence is the worst thing in body language.


I hope this has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, please call our office at Empowering Small Business at (941) 759-3494. Thank you.

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