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Body language and verbal cues will tell you if your prospect is ready to buy.
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A sale takes two people, but not just any two people. An effective sale is most often achieved between two (or more) people who have synergy between them and understand the desired outcome for, not just one, but both parties. No matter what business you are in, you sell. You sell yourself, your product and/or your vision. And to do so with great success depends on your skill in creating synergy between you and your prospects, potential investors, partners and employees. 

I recall going into an electronics store to peruse the PC inventory when I was evaluating my choices for a new computer. A sales guy approached me and asked how he could help. I began to respond but wasn’t able to get a full sentence out before he interrupted to embark upon an annoying soliloquy citing his personal comparative analysis between brands. It was as though I didn’t even exist.

With my arms crossed and my eyes searching for the fastest route to the exit I began to stew about this man’s shortsightedness. But it wouldn’t have been too late for him to save the day and sell me a computer because I really did not want to spend the day wandering from store to store.  How could he not notice my body language? And my disinterest was clearly written on my face, I made sure of it. But he was too absorbed in his own interests to notice.

No matter what your personality, you can create synergy between you and another party, simply by observing their body language, tone and speech patterns. If you have only one mode of communication, odds are you are selling to only one personality type.  Enhance your communication style and sell to a wider range of prospects. Here are a few basic tips, experiment with them and see how they work for you.
Body language gives us critical cues in conversation but don’t make immediate assumptions and misinterpret it. Take your time and get to know your audience. For instance, while crossed arms can often indicate strong objection, this position can also indicate another form of resistance or discomfort. Many of my clients who are dealing with forms of emotional distress will sit across from me with their arms crossed because they know that we are going to discuss topics that may feel uncomfortable to them.  Don’t assume that someone is disinterested when they strike this position, their resistance may only mean that you have your work cut out for you.

It’s important to put your audience ease. If they assume a position that indicates resistance, like crossed arms, go ahead and mirror that position. Now speak in calm tones and with confidence, but not arrogance, and then slowly uncross your arms and sit comfortably with your arms on your lap or at your sides. If you’ve done your job well, your companion will follow suit. When they do, you will know that you are one step closer to engaging them completely.

The same goes for someone who is shaking their leg or tapping on the arm of their chair. Pay attention to these critical cues, subtly mimic their behavior and switch to a more receptive pose when the time is right. 

You can also use mimicking and mirroring for other body language cues, just to create a subconscious connection. Crossed legs, clasped hands, crossed ankles and so on. The person will feel a connection to you, even if he doesn’t completely understand what it is. Be subtle and assume a similar or the exact body position and remain in that position slightly longer than the other person. It’s not necessary to do this during your entire meeting, only long enough to create that important bond.

Also listen for verbal cues. If you are a kinesthetic person, you will use words like, feel, touch, grasp, tap into and so on. But if you are speaking with someone who has a visual representational system these words are of a foreign language to them. They will use words like, see, imagine and picture this. So when you ask this person how it would feel to own this shiny new widget, rather than asking them to imagine owning the widget, you are not going to get their full cooperation.  To determine a person’s representational system listen to the predicates they use and utilize them yourself. Now you’re speaking the same language.

The most critical point here is to step away from your own intentions and step into the intention of understanding your audience and creating a meaningful connection with them.  Listen, observe, be flexible and calm. Stay in the moment instead of racing ahead to what you are going to say next. What you say is not nearly as important as what you hear and what you see.

Last updated: Sep 19, 2011

MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness.
@MarlaTabaka




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