Not too long ago, Mark Cuban was asked on the podcast, How I Built This, on what he would do if he had to start all over again from scratch. "I would get a job as a bartender at night and a sales job during the day," he responded.
According to Cuban, sales is the foundation for success in any field.
You might be thinking: What if I just don't have a knack for sales? Here's the good news: Just like everything in life, sales has an 80-20 rule, but even better. In sales, it's 93-7.
According to a study done by a psychology professor from UCLA, Dr. Albert Mehrabian, there are three elements that account for how well we receive someone's message and they impact us differently:
- 7 percent words
- 38 percent tone of voice
- 55 percent body language
This makes sense. When I was 18, after just moving back to the states from Korea, I was making nearly $10,000 a month despite speaking choppy English. Since I couldn't improve my English overnight, I focused on my nonverbal communication, and this worked out very well for me.
Of course, you need to make sure that your words and content of your sales pitch is solid. Once that is polished though, you need to focus on your delivery and how you're going to convey your pitch. This is where you truly reap the benefits.
You can read more details on the importance of body language in my book. In the meantime, here are four pointers on how to improve your sales skills instantly:
1. Fix your posture.
According to Steve Maxwell, a physical conditioning coach, you can fix your posture in just five minutes. Maxwell explained to Outside in 2015 that spending five minutes doing simple exercises such as rolling on the ground to marching can completely reset your posture.
Another option is to invest in a back brace. Wear one for thirty minutes and your posture will improve tremendously. My weapon of choice has been the Ravista back brace that is sold on Amazon for $19. It may possibly be the best investment that I have ever made.
2. Use hand gestures.
According to a recent study conducted by best selling author of Captivate, Vanessa Van Edwards and hear team found out that the most popular Ted Talkers used an average of 465 hand gestures. That's almost double the amount used by the least popular Ted Talkers. It's in our primal instincts to speak with our hands--it engages your audience.
I encourage you to practice in front of a mirror or record yourself. By recording and by also watching other public speaking clips such as Ted Talks, you will effectively improve your body language skills such as hand gestures. During one of my classes for my MBA, I was surprised at how much of a difference made after watching just 30 seconds of myself presenting.
3. Focus on facial expressions.
In a 2016 study, Kasia Wezowski, founder of the Center for Body Language, explains how her team found out that high-performing salespeople scored almost twice as high on the study's metrics on reading facial expressions compared to low performers.
One of my favorite psychologists is Dr. Paul Ekman. He is a giant in his field and is largely credited with pioneering emotions and their relation to facial expressions. According to Ekman, there are only seven primary facial expressions--and whether we're aware of them or not, they reveal our true emotions in the form of microexpressions.
A quick reaction to a comment--such as crinkling of the nose or squinting of the eyes--can give you away. Such responses are consistent with how we would react if we were to smell something unpleasant or protect ourselves from seeing what we don't want to see.
You won't become psychic overnight, but becoming conscious of facial expressions will give you a sizable advantage.
4. Speak clearly.
When you're speaking, focus on how you're saying the words--not just what you're saying. Remember, your tone of voice is worth 38 percent of the communication. Your words are just worth seven percent. Slow down your pitch and be sure to explain every concept slowly and clearly.
Recently during an important presentation, my product manager was concerned about my lack of content on explanation in my PowerPoint deck. The presentation had very few words, many images, and just a few bullet points.
Afterwards, many colleagues, as well as clients, congratulated me and many agreed that I had the best presentation amongst a dozen other presenters. I later explained that my focus was on the 93 percent rather than the seven percent.
Always keep your pitch simple and focus your energy on what matters most. You will be surprised at how much of communication is nonverbal.