Consider this: in a few minutes you have an important meeting to close a sale. But did you realise that only 7% of our communication is verbal? What about the remaining 93%? How can you gain the confidence of the person in front of you and make that sale?
As Albert Mehrabian’s famous 7-38-55 rule shows, non-verbal communication consists of:
- Paraverbal language (38%) used to maintain dialogue (e.g. pauses, intonation, rhythm, projection, tone and emphasis)
- Kinesics (55%) – in other words, body language and gestures.
If you’re going to convince, inspire and build trust with your sales pitch, you need to master your non-verbal communication.
It all starts with a smile
First impressions count, and a smile generates well-being and spreads optimism. It’s a simple gesture but the effect is unequivocal, and it breaks the typical barrier that exists between two strangers. Once you’ve set a friendly ambiance, the customer is more likely to listen to you. Be natural – you’ll start the sales meeting in a much more relaxed and confident way. Your prospect will see that you’re amiable and ready to respond to their needs.
Use visual contact
Find the right balance between maintaining eye contact and not intimidating your customer. Use visual contact to make them feel important. Avoid looking away – you don’t want to appear nervous, distracted or, worse, give the impression you’re not interested in what they’re saying.
If you analyse (subtly!) their eye contact with you, you can gauge their thoughts about what you’re saying and adapt your sales message accordingly. Are they surprised? Do they trust you? Are they bored? Try the following exercise: look at yourself in the mirror for a few seconds and see just how powerful a look can be.
Emphasize with gestures
A good balance of non-verbal communication also includes using your arms and hands to emphasize what you’re saying and maintain your customer’s attention. If you exaggerate your movements your prospect will be more focused on what you’re doing than on your sales arguments. Placing your hand over your mouth gives the impression you’re lying; holding your hands behind your back shows disinterest; if you touch your hair you seem nervous, while drumming your fingertips on the table demonstrates impatience.
Here’s a tip: make sure you have a pen in your hands. This can help emphasize the points you’re making and keep your hands busy if you don’t know what to do with them. And show 100% knowledge of your portfolio of products or services.
Respect personal space
When you greet or say goodbye to your customer, maintain a correct distance so as to be friendly without invading their space (their imaginary “bubble”). The optimum distance obviously varies depending on the culture; Latin cultures tend to have greater proximity, whereas others respect more of a distance to avoid making the other person feel uncomfortable. Try and gauge your prospect and get a feeling for whether they are more extroverted or distant.
If you put all this advice into practice and have your sales arguments prepared, there’s only one thing that could cut short the meeting: annoying interruptions. Listen carefully to your customer’s questions. They’ll feel more reassured if you take the time to listen and adapt your offering to their needs. Interruptions distract and irritate – they are a way of commanding attention and imposing your point of view, even if done subconsciously.
Go to your sales meeting with a receptive mind – and, it may seem obvious, but make sure you switch your mobile phone to silent mode!