What if you could know, with a high level of certainty, how likely a client was to say “yes” to your proposal before you even asked for the sale? How helpful would it be to see a client objection or stall tactic before he or she actually verbalized it?
By understanding how to read and analyze body language, you can. It’s not magic or mind reading. Science-based techniques provide unique and powerful advantages to move your sales conversations towards the “yes” that you’re looking for.
And you don’t have to understand every little nuance of body language science to reap the benefits of “people reading” in your sales process. Anyone can learn to quickly take the temperature of a conversation by looking for a few key non-verbal cues while navigating the interaction.
How Confident Are They?
When it comes to decoding people on the other side during sales conversations, sizing up the level of confidence that they are displaying tells a lot about how they feel about you, and themselves.
Clients may be verbally saying that everything looks great, that the proposal sounds good, but if their body language is telling a different story, believe the body language.
Confident people have no problem claiming space. This action can be done directly with their bodies by walking into the room with open posture, sitting or standing with their arms stretched out, leaning across the table, or extending an arm over the chair beside them. It can also be done by claiming territory around them, such as spreading out their materials and devices to take up table space in a conference room or at dinner.
Their starting level of confidence can be used as a basis for comparison throughout the interaction. Once the conversation moves into details, contracts, or pricing, if prospects move from an expansive, open posture to closed off or protective posture, it may indicate that they are uncomfortable or not in agreement with what has been proposed.
It’s important to keep in mind that clients may be verbally saying that everything looks great, assuring that the proposal sounds good, but if their body language is telling a different story, believe the body language.
Moving from a high-confident presence to displaying a lower-confident presence is a key red flag, and a clued-in sales professional will take notice. This behavior is not only a reflection of clients’ internal levels of confidence, but also an indicator of their levels of confidence in the sales professional.
How Engaged Are They?
The last thing a sales professional wants to do is pitch clients who aren’t truly engaged. The trick is to decode clients’ true levels of engagement throughout conversations and use those data points to adjust presentations and re-engage clients in a more active way.
Just because clients are sitting in the same spaces or on the other end of video calls doesn’t mean they are actually engaged with what sales professionals are saying. People are more distracted than ever, and if interest and engagement levels aren’t actively monitored, sales reps will find themselves talking to the wall.
One easy body language cue to gauge is eye contact. Between 60% and 70% eye contact signals an engaged client during any given interaction. Less eye contact signals disinterest or discomfort and feels dismissive. Extremely high levels of eye contact feel confrontational, uncomfortable, and even creepy.
If eye contact levels decrease during a conversation, it indicates clients have lost their interest or they are tuning out the salesperson as opposed to actively listening. It’s the job of a sales professional to re-engage conversation by asking unique questions, sharing collateral or something they can interact with, or physically having them get up to take a tour, experience a key amenity, or participate in some sort of physical engagement to reignite interest and draw them back into conversation.
Do They Like What’s Being Said?
Body language tells a lot about how clients feel about what is being proposed. This lesson is especially true for their body positioning, specifically as it relates to the salesperson. Engaged clients who are buying into what is being said will most likely exhibit open body posture, leaving their torsos unblocked and pointed towards the salesperson during the interaction, as well as “fronting” by having their shoulders, knees, and feet pointed towards the sales professional if sitting or standing across from each other.
Knowing what clients aren’t saying, but may be feeling or thinking, gives opportunities to proactively answer questions and head off objections before they are voiced.
Subtle mirroring of each other’s gestures, body positions, and even vocal tones and rates of speech may also be noticed as the interaction goes on. This mirroring is a good sign and indicates that clients feel connected and on the same page with what is being shared. If these positive cues of engagement are observed, keep heading in the right direction.
In contrast, if clients are positioning themselves away or closing themselves off, they are signaling that they aren’t engaged or, worse yet, aren’t liking what is being said. Negative non-verbal cues, such as crossed arms or holding something over the torso area, indicate that clients are feeling protective, uncertain, and are trying to create barriers between what is being said and themselves.
Other negative non-verbal cues to look for include anger/contempt micro-expressions, body positions that lean back, away, or take a step back, as well as feet pointing towards the exit. If clients exhibit one or several of these negative body language cues, it’s safe to assume that they aren’t feeling what the salesperson is putting down, and it’s time to start asking questions, getting clarification on what they aren’t comfortable with, redirecting efforts to a new angle, or ending the conversation before a “no” decision and revisiting it again later with a fresh approach.
Reading clients’ body language and non-verbal cues gives better data points to manage high consequence conversations and exhibits expertise and professionalism. Knowing what clients aren’t saying, but may be feeling or thinking, gives opportunities to proactively answer questions, provide important information to grow their confidence, and head off objections before they are voiced.
Clients want to feel seen, heard, and valued throughout interactions. By understanding how to decode the cues and clues they are giving, sports sales professionals can give them an experience that leaves a lasting positive impression and leads to sales success.
Lisa Mitchell is a Communications Expert, Certified Forensic Interviewer, and the Founder of Power Body Language.
Write to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Instagram @lisamitchellindy or at www.powerbodylanguage.com for additional tips and updates.
REGISTER TODAY for ALSD 2019, where attendees will have two opportunities to meet Lisa at this year’s show in Chicago, including her anticipated session entitled “Winning High-Consequence Conversations”.