From an early age we’re taught to pay close of attention to the words we use when trying to get our point across…..but the research shows that, when it comes to face-to-face communication, only 7% of the message we transmit is down to the words we use, 38% is down to our tone of voice and a full 55% comes from our body language.
A great deal has been written about body language in a sales context. Anyone who’s been involved in sales for a while can tell you that the first thing we need to do in a sales meeting is build rapport by smiling, nodding and adjusting our movements to the same tempo as the person sitting opposite us.
But in this article, I’m going to focus on one area only, namely what normally happens when the prospect is making up their mind. What signals do they give out when deciding whether to buy from you or not?
First let’s remind ourselves what the common positive and negative signals are:
Negative Body Language
- Crossed arms
- Placing some kind of barrier (like hands or coffee cup) between you and them
- Crossed ankles or crossed legs
Positive Body Language
- Leaning forward
- Eyebrow flash
- Pupils dilated
Now, a small note of caution. When it comes to body language context is hugely important. For instance, crossed arms are widely recognised as a negative signal. But there are some people who just find that position more comfortable when sitting. Equally, crossed legs are regarded as a negative signal. But a woman wearing a short skirt will commonly cross her legs when sitting out of modesty. It’s important to look at everything that’s going on and apply a bit of common sense before jumping to conclusions.
When the prospect is making a decision, you are likely to see an evaluation gesture, followed by chin stroking.
Whatever happens next, will give away what they’re thinking. If chin stroking is followed by a positive gesture, they’re about to say yes to your proposal. If chin stroking is followed by a negative gesture, they’re about to turn you down. If you understand this, you then have an opportunity to ask them what the problem is before they’ve said no. This can be vitally important because once someone has articulated the word “No” it can be very difficult to change their minds. So if you see an evaluation gesture, chin stroking followed by negative body language, jump in quickly and say something like: “I can see something is worrying you. Do you mind if I ask what that might be?”
But if you see this sequence followed by positive body language, smile politely and get out your Mont Blanc…