Body Language Hacks For Better Sales


In sales, communication is everything. Carried out effectively, communication can harness the potential to build trust, establish authority, strengthen relationships and create positive first impressions; ones that last. Even more so, effective communication acts as a catalyst for conversions – from leads into happy, loyal customers.

But what many people don’t realise is, communication is mostly non-verbal. In fact, it occurs mainly through body movement  – 55% to be specific. Only 7% of communication occurs through verbalisation and the other 38% through tone of voice.

Body language, therefore, plays a huge role in the way we communicate and by default, sell. To succeed in the communications department and secure those much-coveted sales, applying the right body language is a must. Not to lean on clichés, but you can’t just talk the talk, you’ve gotta walk the walk.

Here’s our cheat sheet for body language tricks and tips that’ll instantly help you improve your sales.

1. Eye Contact

Before engaging in conversation with a prospect, start by catching their eye. Don’t glare; just look the right amount to let someone know that you’re eager to engage with them.

Once you’ve got their attention and you’re diving into your sales pitch, maintain eye contact to keep them engaged while you are speaking and to let them know that you are hearing what they have to say, when they are speaking.

But don’t let your gaze linger too long. In research published in Royal Society Open Science, Binetti et al. (2016) found that just over three seconds was the best duration of eye contact for optimum comfort level.

2. A Smile And A Handshake

Use a smile and a handshake to make a positive first impression and sway people to your way of thinking. Over 70% of business executives claim their impressions are impacted by a person’s handshake (Sales Innovation Expo 2019). That, and the way the other party presents themselves.

Accompany your smile and handshake with a greeting. A simple pleasantry, such as a ‘good morning’, can boost financial payback by 17%.

3. Collaborative Positioning

Establishing a certain spatial positioning in relation to another person when selling to them, can make them feel more trusting of you and more collaborative. Sitting next to someone when talking to them, rather than opposite, has proven to open people up more and put them at ease. That’s why investigators position themselves beside suspects at the beginning of an interrogation process!

4. Calm Your Nerves

In his analysis of a highly-publicised political speech, Ph.D. Greg Henriques of Psychology Today, breaks down why the speech was considered by many, to be unengaging. In the end, he points out that it is because the speaker is showing visible signs of nerves: licking his lips because he has a dry mouth, trembling voice and wiping sweat from his brow.

“Because people can filter their thoughts, body language can provide clues to what is going on behind the words that are being said.” And in the politician’s case, Henrique argues, his nerves can be construed as “him not believing what he was saying”.  The lesson to take away from this: be assertive and confident, to demonstrate belief in what you are saying and persuade others to buy what you are selling.

5. Don’t Be A Space Invader

It is scientifically proven that there is a zone of physical proximity that allows people to feel comfortable in the presence of others. Of course, the space preference differs from culture to culture, gender to gender and topic of discussion to topic of discussion. But as a rule of thumb, 3-10 feet is a respectable distance in a casual, light-hearted conversation.

It is imperative that you avoid invading someone’s personal space, as doing so can indicate a lack of respect and even be interpreted as confrontational. According to Julius Fast, author of Body Language (2002), a person who violates personal space sends the signal, “You are a non-person, and therefore I can move in on you. You do not matter.”

If you’re trying to sell, that is not the message you want received.

6. Affirmative Gestures

Affirmative movements are those that let others know we are listening and agreeing with what they are saying. The most common affirmative gesture is the age-old classic: the head nod.

If you’re not nodding in your conversations with prospects, you might want to start. Scientific research has proven that when a listener nods their head, it can greatly increase the amount the speaker talks. According to research, nodding your head whilst someone speaks, can increase the amount they talk, fourfold. A talking prospect, is an engaged prospect, which in turn, is a nurtured prospect. Want to keep your prospects talking? Get that head nodding!

7. Relaxed Posture

Maintaining a relaxed posture whilst delivering your sales pitch can really make your prospect feel at ease. Relax your shoulders and keep your back comfortably straight – not stiff. By taking up a relaxed posture, you automatically send signals that let your listener know you are at ease and comfortable with your surroundings. If you’re comfortable, then they’re comfortable.

It can be easier said than done, though. When we’re nervous, our fear naturally manifests itself in certain ways on our body (see 4), which can include seizing up. If you’re a nervous speaker, practice, practice, practice. Ask for help from a friend and make sure you know your information inside out – knowing what you’re talking about will naturally placate your nerves.

8. A Guiding Hand

Magicians have made their money for centuries, using sleight of hand to direct spectators’ attention to what they want them to see. Take a leaf out of their book – or a card from their deck – and make extensive use of hand gestures to direct their gaze towards points of interest, products, you name it. It’s a great way to steer the conversation, if the small talk dries up.

There are also certain hand gestures that convey certain things. In this useful blog, the author breaks down the hand gestures used by successful speakers giving Ted Talks.

9. Examine The Other Person’s Body Language

Whilst you’re deep in conversation, is the other conversationist shifting in their seat? Are their eyes looking away?

If the answer is yes, that’s unfortunate, as it may indicate that they are hoping to leave the conversation as quickly as possible. That, or they’re growing bored and something else has stolen their attention.

Be careful not to get so engrossed in your sales pitch that you ignore these negative tell-tale signs. Keep a keen eye and as soon as you see these signs, quickly re-engage or wrap up and let them move on so as not to outstay your welcome.

10. Stay Consistent!

Keep up the positive body language at all times. Even in moments when you’re not engaging in conversation with someone, consider your posture and facial expression. Why? Because someone watching may be generating their first impressions of you from a distance – and you want it to be a good one. The human brain is hardwired to make snap judgements of others – it only takes a tenth of a second according to one estimate – so any negative body language will be picked up immediately and skew their evaluation of you.

11. Read Other’s Body Language

According to Navarro (2008), body language behaviours are guided by primitive parts of our brain, also known as the limbic system. This system is in place to tell us when we are comfortable and when we are not. It readies our bodies to pursue what we find appealing and run away from or fight what we don’t.

So, whether you’re hosting a conference, exhibiting at a trade show, giving a talk or selling a product in a store, keep up the positive body language consistently, even when you think no one’s watching. It’s a recipe for a winning first impression that will, by default, increase the likelihood of a conversion later on.

Body language is the window to the consciousness. We can’t read minds per se – though I’m sure we all wish we could – but we can read non-verbal cues and use those to interpret what someone else might be thinking. In a field like sales, adeptness at this is more important than in any other. Prospects will immediately judge you on your trustworthiness, based on your body signals. And, if your mouth is saying one thing but your body language another, they will immediately pick that up. So, read and reread these body language tricks and suggestions; memorise and absorb, so you can give off the non-verbal signals that’ll turn leads into sales.

If you want to find out how you can create successful customer experiences through more than just body language, see here.


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