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Know What Your Body Language Says to Your Prospect

Studies show that up to 90% of communication is nonverbal. That means that your body language matters. So how can you make sure that it lines up with what you’re saying? Here are six do’s and don’ts that can make or break the sale.

The Don’ts: Watch out for these annoying habits that can almost always kill a sale.

  • Never point at a prospect – This can make you appear angry, which hinders clear communication.
  • Keep from looking everywhere but at your prospect – Looking people in the eye shows that you see and hear them, which is critical to building trust. (You won’t build trust looking out the window or the golfing trip photo on their desk)
  • Avoid the death stare – Holding eye contact for too long (longer than three seconds) can make people uncomfortable or come across as dominant.
  • Refrain from crossing your arms, as it signals that you’re closed off to an idea—or that you are offended or don’t agree.
  • Don’t encroach on people’s personal space – This can vary, but avoid getting closer than two feet; standing within four to two feet communicates interest.
  • Avoid biting your fingernails or playing with your hair – These habits make you look nervous and less confident.

If you are looking to crush it at your next sales pitch, try to incorporate these winning techniques:

  • Match, or mirror, your posture with your prospect occasionally – This signals agreement and creates a bond.
  • Nod your head – Let your prospect know you understand or agree to build the relationship.
  • Lean in – By leaning toward someone (rather than leaning away or walking too closely to that person), you demonstrate that you’re paying attention.
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back – Slouching can sabotage your credibility and communicate disinterest or lack of respect, while this posture signals confidence.
  • Hold legs and fingers still – Tapping or fidgeting can be interpreted as lack of confidence or failure to listen.
  • Use a firm handshake – No one likes to grip a “dead fish.”

By matching your body language to your words, you deliver a more cohesive, powerful and believable message. Establish trust and openness by modeling listening postures, and be mindful of habits and gestures that can sabotage your credibility.

Selling is about more than talking; the saying that actions speak louder than words is particularly true in sales situations. Make the most of your presentation by learning both positive and negative body language. Equipped with this knowledge, your sales appointments will be more successful—and so will you.