Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The 1960 Presidential Debates between Vice
President Nixon and Senator Kennedy were the first nationally
televised debates in presidential campaign history. With the advent of
television the debates took on a visual dimension and for the first
time, 70 million voters were given the opportunity to not only hear
the candidates, but to visually compare them as well.
Surprisingly, opinion polls revealed a sharp
contrast between the voters who had actually watched the debates on TV
versus those who had merely listened to them on the radio. While radio
listeners clearly thought that Nixon had won the first debate,
television viewers were captivated by Kennedy's smile, charm and athletic appearance.
The majority of viewers interviewed reported
that Nixon's five-o'clock
shadow and darting eyes made him appear sinister and far less
presidential than Senator Kennedy. The television cameras underscored
the significance of nonverbal communication and forever changed the
Missing Your Prospect's “Buy Signals?” Think
about the tremendous advantage you would have as a baseball manager if
you knew the opposing team's signals and were able to anticipate their game plan. For example,
suppose you knew in advance that the other team was planning to steal
second base. Obviously, your team would have a competitive edge
because you would be able to adjust your strategy as necessary.
Likewise, as a professional salesperson, you would be wise to monitor
your prospect's body language and adjust your presentation accordingly. By reading
your prospect's gestures you will minimize perceived sales pressure and know when it's appropriate to close the sale.
In 1872, Charles Darwin published the book The
Expressions in Man and Animals and launched the modern study of
nonverbal communication. Essentially, body language is a mixture of
movement, posture and tone of voice. The good news about this subject
is that your subconscious mind already understands the meaning of
every gesture, posture and voice inflection. The bad news is, without
the proper training you are unable to consciously apply this
information during your client appointments.
Top salespeople and the most successful
managers recognize the importance of nonverbal communication in the
selling process and have learned to “listen with their eyes”. They
understand that one of the easiest and most effective ways to close
sales is to be aware of their prospect's "buy signals". In addition to monitoring your prospect's body language, it's important to be mindful of your own gestures and keep them positive.
Remember to unfold your arms, uncross your legs, nod your head in
agreement and smile frequently. The study of nonverbal communication
is similar to learning a foreign language in that it requires time and
effort to achieve fluency. Acquiring this important skill will allow
you to communicate more effectively, read your prospect like a book
and close more sales in less time.
Trust and Rapport: Matching and mirroring your prospect's body language gestures is unconscious mimicry. It is a way of
subconsciously telling another that you like them and agree with them.
The next time you are at a social event, notice how many people are
subconsciously matching one another. Likewise, when people disagree
they subconsciously mismatch their body language gestures. The
psychological principle behind matching and mirroring is that people
want to do business with salespeople that they believe are similar to
You can build trust and rapport by
deliberately, but subtly, matching your prospect's body language in the first fifteen minutes of the appointment. For
example, if you notice that your prospect is crossing their arms,
subtly cross your arms to match them. After you believe you have
developed trust and rapport, verify it by seeing if your prospect will
match you. Uncross your arms and see if your prospect will match and
mirror you as you move into a more open posture. If you notice your
prospect subconsciously matching your body language gestures,
congratulations, this indicates that you have developed trust and
rapport. Conversely, if you notice your prospect mismatching your body
language gestures, you know trust and rapport has not been established
and you need to continue matching and mirroring them.
Language Quiz: If you're a manager, consider using this quiz at your next training meeting
to assess your sales team's current level of expertise. When sitting in on a sales appointment
with your sales rep, be sure to incorporate nonverbal communications
feedback in your critique.
Do you have a working knowledge of body
language? See how many of the eight questions you can answer.
1. What emotion is associated with the "palm to chest"
B. Critical judgment
What is the meaning of the "thumb under the chin"
D. Critical judgment
What nonverbal message is conveyed with the "chin
D. None of the above
What does it mean when a person rubs his or her nose?
What message is conveyed when a person touches his or her
eyeglasses to their lips?
When a person looks over the top of his or her
eyeglasses, what message are they sending?
7. What is the impact of nonverbal communication in a face-to-face
8. Which of the following gestures is/are associated with lying?
A. Talking through fingers
B. Eye rub
C. Ear rub
D. Lack of direct eye contact
E. All of the above
1. (C) The palm to chest gesture indicates sincerity.
2. (D) The thumb under the chin gesture indicates critical
judgment and a negative attitude. A good way to get your prospect to
drop this gesture is to hand them something.
3. (A) The chin rub gesture indicates decision. When you see this
gesture, avoid the temptation to interrupt. If the gestures that
follow chin stoking are positive, ask for the order.
4. (C) When someone rubs his or her nose it's an indication that they don't like the subject. When you see this gesture you would be wise to
probe with open-ended questions to draw out your customer's concern.
5. (B) When someone touches his or her eyeglasses to theirlips it
signals that they're stalling or delaying a decision. If they put their glasses back on,
it's a buy signal. If they put them away, you have more work to do.
6. (C) When a person looks over his or her eyeglasses it indicates
judgment and scrutiny.
7. (C) Research indicates over 70 percent of our communication is
achieved nonverbally. In addition, studies show that nonverbal
communication has a much greater reliability than the spoken word.
Therefore, you would be wise to rely on body language as a more
accurate reflection of a person's true feelings.
8. (E) All of the above. The statue of the Three Wise Monkeys
accurately depicts the three primary hand-to-face gestures associated
with deceit. See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.
While you may not be called upon to
participate in a presidential debate or manage a baseball team, you
need to be able to recognize your prospect's “buy signals.” By gaining a working understanding of nonverbal
communication, you will be able to reduce sales pressure, build
rapport quickly and dramatically increase your sales effectiveness!
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