Did you know it takes just 1/5th of a second for you to make your first impression of someone?
Even if we have vast experience in the industry, an excellent product to sell, confidence within ourselves and a portfolio of trustworthy clients, failing to transmit the right message through non-verbal communication is likely to cost you your sale.
Find out how much body language can help improve sales results and customer relationships.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Non-verbal communication is directly linked to self-esteem and the idea we have of ourselves. If the person we’re talking to is standing or sitting upright with an air of confidence about them, our subconscious tells us this person is at ease and sure of themselves and what they’re doing.
Believe in yourself and you’ll pull off your sales pitch, you’re more than capable of impressing the client. It’s these positive thoughts that will help you express yourself freely and with confidence and certainty. Believing in yourself allows others to believe in you.
When we’re happy, we smile… obviously. And vice versa. Smiling makes us happier, boosts our well-being and in doing so, transmits positivity to anyone around us; a phenomenon known as facial feedback. A simple gesture such as smiling affects our emotions and the way we conduct ourselves. Think about it, you always remember a cheerful person over someone more serious.
But how can you spot a genuine smile? Paul Ekman, a pioneer in the study of emotions and facial expressions has distinguished the difference between genuine and false smiles. The natural ones are warm and empathetic and use more facial muscles right up to the eyes and eyebrows. Fake smiles, on the other hand, tend to be uncomfortable and cold and don’t use the muscles in the top half of the face.
Fail to make eye contact and you’ll go unnoticed. However, don’t be mistaken; making too much eye contact can come across too intense. So you must find a balance. Research suggests that maintaining eye contact approximately 70% of the time is the ideal for creating a rapport.
What’s more, facing the person you’re speaking to shows disposition and concentration. By turning your whole body towards your client and talking to them head on, you come across more receptive.
You must also pay attention to your client’s body language to see if you’ve managed to impress them or not. Wide eyes and raised eyebrows, or even a drastic turn of head are two sure examples that you’ve achieved this.
Making gestures with your hands and arms not only communicates veracity but also provides a better description and emphasis of your message. Remember that gestures can either put what we want to say into context or contradict it. They must therefore always be natural and genuine.
The use of hand gestures will hold your client’s attention. These gestures shouldn’t go further than the space between your stomach and neck otherwise your pitch will lose credibility. Same goes if you gesture too much.
Some people don’t know if they’re invading the personal space of others or not. We call this space the invisible bubble. According to Edward T. Hall, creator of the concept of proxemics, the correct distance in a work meeting is somewhere between 46 to 360cm. If we look to the proxemics distance diagram, this space falls between the personal and social zones. Crossing this distance depends on the relationship you have with the person you’re speaking to.
If however, you are speaking to a client, present or future, you mustn’t invade their personal space otherwise you run the risk of making them uncomfortable. Keeping a distance shows respect.
In a professional relationship of this kind, refrain from being overly tactile with the client.
It’s also worth mentioning an important topic of most selling skills training: the handshake. This must be firm and strong; you have one chance to make a good first impression on your client, it’s therefore likely to make or break your sale. Give a half-hearted, weak handshake and you’ll seem passive and lacking conviction. At the same time, you must make sure your handshake is not overly aggressive, as this might come off as a reflection of your character.
The don’ts of a sales pitch go without saying. For example, avoid keeping your hands still, in your pockets, cover your mouth (seeming like you’re hiding something). All give off the message of unwillingness and reluctance.
Nor is it advisable to have your arms or legs crossed. Doing so, you seem withdrawn from the conversation, not an impression you want to give off when selling your product.
During crucial moments don’t have things such as pens or cigarettes in your mouth or you’ll come across indecisive and easy influenced.
Lastly, interruptions of any kind are an absolute no. We’re referring to phone calls, WhatsApp notifications etc. Nor do we advise you interrupting your client with your point of view, which is also seen as impolite and disrespectful.
Non-verbal communication is ever changing, subjective and always open to various interpretations. It not only includes your body language but also reading that of the person you’re speaking to. There will be clients with whom you have more of an open, friendly relationship and others with whom you are more formal.
Judging off that initial 1/5th of a second in which you make your first impression of someone, you will know how to express yourself. Body language is not about an exact science and it’s also worth knowing that each culture has their own distinctive communication traits.
A good sales rep analyzes client relationships and adapts their non-verbal body language to it. To do this, you must know that not one gesture or expression has one meaning alone. Body language is global as is its analysis.