Body Language: How to Read
Your Prospect Like a Book!
By John Boe
Are you aware that your body language gestures reveal your
deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers? The very first sale you must make with each new prospect is to
“sell yourself”. If your prospect doesn’t like or trust you, he or she
will never even remotely consider buying your product or service. Understanding body language gestures will help you build trust and rapport quickly with your prospects and customers... face-to-face or over the phone.
Body language is a mixture of movement, posture, and tone of voice. Top sales reps and the most successful managers recognize the importance of nonverbal “buy signals” in the selling process and have learned to "listen with their eyes". They understand the power of body language and know how to use their gestures and voice tone to establish trust and build rapport quickly. Body language research shows that nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word. Therefore, if your prospect's words are not congruent with his or her body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on the body language as a more accurate reflection of true feelings.
The good news about body language is that you were born
knowing the information. This explains why people from different cultures can communicate
effectively without having to speak a single word. In the animal kingdom, every cat, dog, bear, horse, etc. on the planet will
use the same body language gestures to communicate with each other. For
example, when an animal is angry, they will pin their ears back flat
against their head.
Even though people understand body language instinctively, the meaning of "finger gestures" may change
from one culture to another. Finger gestures, such as the V for victory sign or the okay gesture are "learned gestures"
created by the culture and the meaning often varies from country to country. For example, on January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, a
Navy intelligence ship, was engaged in a routine surveillance mission off the
North Korean coast when it was intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. The
83-man crew were captured and imprisoned in Pyongyang, where they were
interrogated and beaten. In an attempt to gain propaganda value from the crew, the
North Koreans conducted a news conference. When photographed during the press conference, some of the ship's crew
expressed their disdain for their captors by sticking out their middle finger. While this finger gesture was noticed by the North Koreans they didn’t understand the disrespectful meaning that the gesture implied. After the
photos were released worldwide and the meaning of the finger gesture was revealed, the North Koreans were politically embarrassed and severely beat
During your sales presentation, it's critically important to get started on the right foot. Research shows that we decide
in the first few moments whether we like someone or not. Yes, we also judge a
book by its cover too. There’s absolutely no substitute for a positive first
impression. Create a favorable first impression and build rapport quickly by
using open body language. In addition to smiling and making good eye contact,
you should show the palms of your hands, keep your arms unfolded, and your legs
You can build trust and rapport by deliberately, but subtly, "matching and mirroring" your prospect's body language in the first few minutes of the appointment. For example, if you notice that your prospect starts off the appointment by crossing his or her legs and sitting back in the chair, you should match them by crossing your legs and sitting back in your chair as well. After you believe you have developed trust and rapport, you can verify it by seeing if your prospect will begin matching your gestures. Try leading your prospect into a more open and receptive body language posture by uncrossing your legs and leaning towards the table. If you notice your prospect subconsciously begins matching your body language gestures, congratulations, this indicates that you have laid the foundation of trust and rapport. Conversely, if you notice that your prospect is mismatching your body language gestures, you know trust and rapport has not been established and you need to continue the “matching and mirroring” process.
Be mindful to evaluate the flow of "gesture
clusters" rather than isolated gestures taken out of context. Listed below
are some important body language gestures that you need to become familiar
with. There are two basic categories of body postures; Open/Closed
and Forward/Back. In an open and receptive body posture, arms are unfolded,
legs uncrossed, and palms are exposed. In a closed body posture, arms are
folded, legs are crossed and the entire body is usually turned away.
Body Movement Gestures
Head Movement Gestures
Are you missing your prospect's buy signals? As a professional salesperson you must continuously monitor your prospect's body language and adjust your presentation accordingly. By understanding your prospect's body language gestures you will minimize perceived sales pressure and know when it's appropriate to close the sale!
“As the tongue speaketh to the ear, so the gesture speaketh to the eye.” - King James the First (1605)
John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. John is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have John speak at your next event, visit www.johnboe.com or call 937-299-9001. Free Newsletter available on website.
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Category: Sales Training
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Copyright 2016, John Boe International
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