Understanding the subtle art of behavioral cues helps evaluate a customer’s readiness to buy and vastly increases your chances of closing the deal.
The “winning edge concept” is something salespeople should familiarize themselves with. It can be found in Brian Tracy’s classic book The Psychology of Selling, and states that “small differences in ability can lead to enormous differences in results.” Thus, according to Tracy, salespeople who focus on improving key areas of their techniques will vastly increase their rate of success.
One area that can have the greatest impact on the results of even the most seasoned salesperson is the ability to understand the body language of buyers. Watching out for and interpreting non-verbal communications can not only arm you with essential information about where a customer is in the sales process but allows you to tailor your approach.
WE CONSTANTLY GIVE
OFF SUBTLE SIGNALS
THAT REVEAL OUR
Clues potential buyers project include body movement, facial expressions, and the tone and volume of their voice. We constantly give off subtle signals that reveal an insight into our true feelings. Customers are no different. The good news is anyone can learn how to read body language. This will allow you to realize that when customers nod in agreement, they could be signaling they are not sure.
Other customers can appear not to be interested in closing the sale but are simply waiting to be offered a discount. The best salespeople are experts when it comes to recognizing their prospects’ body language — right down to the smallest of “tells.” Once they notice one of these telltale signals they adapt their approach accordingly to optimize their chances of success.
To help get you started on your journey to becoming a body language guru and truly maximizing your sales ability, here are the seven buying signals you should never ignore — and what they mean.
1. It’s all in the eyes: A customer’s eyes are windows into their inner thoughts. So by paying attention to what your clients are looking at, you will almost certainly know what they are thinking about.
If they are looking directly at you, for example, they will most likely be paying attention to and interested in what you are saying. However, if while you are talking their eyes are focused intently on the piece of jewelry you are trying to sell them, they may not be fully decided and could have more questions.
If their eyes are wandering and unfocused while you speak to them, it is possible they have disengaged: You will most likely need to reset the conversation so you can reengage them. You can do this by turning the floor over to them, so they can air their concerns. And even when a customer seems disinterested, if their eyes keep returning to the item you are trying to sell them, this is a telltale sign they are attracted to it.
2. Watch out for facial expressions: It can be frustrating as a salesperson when you believe you have made a sale, only for it to fall through. But by carefully monitoring your customer’s facial expressions you will be able to understand if it’s a done deal or needs more persuasion.
If you are discussing price and you notice a raised eyebrow, a widening of the eyes or a slight opening of the mouth — be warned. The price you have pitched is more expensive than the customer anticipated.
So be prepared either to substantially discount or attract them to something within their price range. A raised eyebrow, a wrinkled nose or a crease between the eyebrows can indicate a customer has not fully understood the offer you have made. But if your offer is met with pursed lips, lowered eyebrows or tensed jaw muscles, your customer does not like what he or she is hearing.
How does your body language help or hurt when it comes to your customers? Share your experiences with your staff and colleagues as part of your journey to understanding your clients’ body language.
And when you see clients smile and widen their eyes it is time to celebrate — they are telling you they are absolutely ready to buy.
3. Armed with handy knowledge: From the subtle to the downright forthright, hand and arm gestures can be a real giveaway. A customer who is fidgeting or drumming his or her fingers is either bored, impatient or verging on becoming angry.
Pointing or jabbing of the fingers is a sign your customer wants to let you know they are the boss, while folded arms or hands in the pockets can be seen as protective gestures that indicate unwillingness and reluctance.
A better sign is a customer with their hands behind their back. It means they are confident and comfortable in their surroundings and most likely with you.
4. Happy feet: While often overlooked, feet can be a surprising source of body language. The golden rule is that if someone’s feet are pointed toward you, they are open to what you are telling them. If their feet are pointed away it is an indicator they are not engaging with what you are saying to them. This rule applies whether your customer is sitting or standing.
Similar to fidgety hands, jiggly feet are a sign of boredom. If a client feels they are getting the better of you in negotiations or that they have the upper hand, they may bounce or tap their feet. In fact, poker players call this bouncing, tapping or wiggling motion “happy feet,” and it’s a signal that a player believes his or her hand is strong.
5. Posture: The openness of a clients’ posture can immediately give you an insight into their personality type and help you hone your sales pitch to suit them.
Customers who stand with their feet apart and chest up are displaying high levels of confidence. They will generally want a direct approach and will at times take a lead in the sales process.
On the other end of the scale are customers who slouch and have a weak handshake. They most likely lack confidence and need to be guided carefully through the purchase decision-making journey.
A good guide for both types is that when their body is aligned with yours, they are engaged with you, but when it is turned inward or away, this should raise alarms, as it means they do not like what they are
hearing from you.
6. Torso and shoulders: The more clients like and agree with you, the more they tend to lean toward you. Those who don’t agree with you will do the opposite to create more space between you. When people are listening to you intently they will face you directly.
Make sure you notice if they tilt or turn away, as this almost always conveys disengagement. Nirvana for salespeople is seeing customers mirroring their body language, such as resting their chin on their hand. If you notice this, you can change your position slightly and see if they follow suit. If they do, then you have made a great connection.
7. The human touch: In an era of sensory marketing — with retailers using approaches that focus on sound, sight and smell — the importance of touch should never be underestimated. Physically holding a product can create symbolic connections between a customer and the product, driving a sense of psychological ownership.
It should therefore come as no surprise that customers who engage with a product by touching it and inspecting it repeatedly are likely to be ready to make a purchase. The savvy salesperson should be able
to identify when customers have bonded with an item, and quickly move to take it from its display case
and place it in their hands.
Now that you have an insight into the subtle art of body language, you need to understand it works both ways. Just as your customers constantly give off ‘tells’ so do salespeople. Body language and the sound of our voice account for over 90% of how we are perceived by others.
WHEN YOU SEE
AND WIDEN THEIR
EYES IT IS TIME TO
So, as owners, managers or sales representatives, we need to ensure our body language is saying the right thing to our customers. First impressions matter, so mold your handshake to match your clients. This will help put you both at ease. Pay attention to how they position themselves. Are they standing tall? Are their arms crossed? Rather than mimicking their posture try to match it.
Finally, listen to how they speak. Don’t speak loudly at someone who has a gentle voice and vice versa. Reading your client’s body cues and taking care to try and match them will build a solid foundation on which trust can be quickly built. After that, the rest is up to you.