Body Language Characteristics of a Successful Salesperson

BY Tim Londergan
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Nonverbal messaging is powerful. Each of us had body language and tone of voice long before we had speech; think of infants cooing with contentment or crying from colic. A successful salesperson realizes that of all messages, a mere 7% is in words only, that’s according to researcher, Albert Mehrabian.

Trained as an engineer, Mehrabian studied nonverbal communication and established the 7–38-55 rule. The essence is that of all messages, only 7% is words, 38% is intonation and 55% is through nonverbal communications. Therefore, from eye behavior to the direction in which an individual points their feet reveals what a person is really thinking.

A Successful Salesperson Understands the Secrets of Nonverbal Cues

From first impressions to eye blink-​rate, body language is a crucial aspect of communication and sales situations are no exception. Understanding and interpreting body language can impact a salesperson's ability to build rapport, establish trust and ultimately close a deal. What’s more, engaging in the understanding of body language is a valuable component of social-​emotional learning.

Professional poker players know that subtle nonverbal actions can betray their feeling about the value of the cards they hold. Therefore, expert gamblers maintain the same posture, place their chips in the same location and move at a consistent speed. Mehrabian found that a set of uniform and neutral behaviors guarantees that minimal information is conveyed about feelings.

Conversely, each successful salesperson strives to be perceptive, adaptable, open, and genuine. Observing and responding to body language will establish a positive connection and increase the likelihood of a successful sales outcome.

How to Read Body Language – A Primer for the Successful Salesperson

Fremont University published a helpful tutorial on body language featuring eight common nonverbal cues. These valuable tips will further your understanding and interpretation of body language for sales applications:

First impressions:

It’s well established that a firm, confident handshake sets a positive tone and conveys the strength and assurance of a successful salesperson. Equally, maintaining good eye contact shows sincerity and confidence. A genuine smile creates a positive atmosphere and makes you appear friendly and approachable.

Importantly, an open and relaxed posture suggests approachability and openness to communication. Avoid crossing your arms, as it may signal defensiveness.

A valuable skill to adopt is that of mirroring. Subtly mirroring the prospect's body language can help build a sense of connection and rapport. If they seem eager, match their enthusiasm; if they appear reserved, adjust your approach accordingly.

Facial expressions:

The Fremont University tutorial suggests studying the eyes. Interestingly, eye movement can reveal discomfort or lack of interest. Sustained eye contact demonstrates attentiveness whereas a high blink-​rate can indicate stress or deceit.

Comparably, gazing at the face and paying close attention to the mouth is quite revealing. A half-​smile, pursed lips or touching the face can indicate displeasure. Facial behavior can show sarcasm or uncertainty.

Feet can leak information:

People may focus on their facial expressions and forget their feet are pointing where they actually want to be. Studying a group may reveal secret dynamics simply from upper and lower body contradictions.

Read the hand signals:

Using appropriate gestures can enhance verbal communication and make the conversation more engaging. However, a successful salesperson avoids the nervous habits of fidgeting, playing with their hair, or tapping their fingers. These convey anxiety or nervousness, potentially undermining credibility.

Similar to the feet, when making hand gestures, a person will point in the general direction of the person they share an affinity with. Differing means of supporting the head with the hands can be revealing as well. Significantly, a person holding an object between the other person is considered an act of blocking in nonverbal communication.

Read deeper to find many more secrets you need as a successful salesperson. Analyzing the true motives behind people’s behavior is insightful. Crack the code of body language to be a more confident, articulate and effective communicator.

Photo by Angela Roma on Pexels​.com