10 Steps to the “Silent Sell” – The Language of the Subconscious Mind
Imagine you’re on a sales call or meeting with a prospect or customer. You may spend an hour making your presentation, answering questions. You may have spent hours studying, working and planning your presentation. You make your presentation perfectly and the prospect or customer seems to be in complete agreement, but for some reason the deal doesn’t close. What happened? You most likely missed the “Silent Sale.”
Unfortunately, when most people plan a presentation they only plan the words they will say and forget to plan what their body will say. It’s very likely, when you make your presentation, your nonverbal communication—the silent sell—that conveys many times more information than your words, was incongruent with your verbal message.
Recent studies show that we determine the honesty, competence and confidence of another in about ½ second after just seeing them. These “first impressions” happen at a subconscious level. The person doesn’t even realize they have occurred, but they are formed, they’re strong and are very difficult to change. The person will then, after forming a first impression, gather information that confirms their decision. So, before you even said hello, it’s very likely that you had already won or lost the sale.
We emit an enormous number of nonverbal cues every minute of interaction with a customer. Though the old misrepresented formula of; 55% of your communication comes from Body Language, 38% from your voice qualities and 7% from the words you use is incorrect. There is no doubt; the words you use in a one on one conversation or presentation are just a fraction of your overall communication. While you cannot control all your nonverbal cues, it is important to be aware of them and do what you can to create powerful, positive body language.
This may not feel natural at first, so you need to practice it to the extent that it feels comfortable and natural. Many people only believe the mind leads the body. However, the truth is that the body can also lead the mind. If you hold a confident, powerful posture, you will begin to produce the actual feelings in your mind.
If customers are going to buy your product or service, they need to believe in and trust you before they can believe and trust in what you sell. Using effective body language simply means you reduce negative cues and increase positive ones. Here are ten body language tips for using effective body language in sales:
1. Think “Up”
When I go in to meet clients, I will often stand. I feel stronger and more powerful if I am already standing up when someone comes to greet me. You find you have more energy standing than you do when you sit. The balance of having your feet firmly “grounded” gives you more power, strength and balance.
If you are giving a sales presentation at a meeting, if possible, give the presentation standing, rather than sitting. Research shows a person looks more like an authority, will be given more attention and respect while standing.
If you are giving a sales presentation at a meeting where you might normally sit, try standing. The research says you will look more like an authority on your topic and you will be given more attention and respect. To make this upright position more comfortable, give yourself an excuse to stand up. Put posters or a flip chart on the wall and use it to chart numbers or gather responses, or stand to give the heavy data portion of the presentation that might otherwise be ignored in a sit-down presentation.
2. Match them in the first few minutes
When you meet with someone one of the best rapport building skills (when done properly) is matching and mirroring the other person. Matching and mirroring is not the same as imitating and mimicking, in fact far from it. I’m not going to take a lot of space here to define all the nuances of matching and mirroring, however, you should take the time to do some deep diving on how to properly match and mirror others and how to use the practice to lead someone from one state to another.
It is possible to very covertly emulate the friendliness or the formality of the greeting you receive. You can and should match the energy level of the other person. Pay attention to the pace of their speech and speak the same way. This may sound a bit strange and ineffective, but we like people who are like us and we are more comfortable with someone with whom we can relate. By learning to match and mirror others you show the prospect that you are like them. And the research shows we are more likely to purchase from someone like us.
3. Get a Grip
Practice your handshake! There is an enormous amount of nonverbal communication transmitted in a simple handshake. The handshake tells the other person about your confidence, honesty, dominance and many other signals.
Timing your gesture to your words. Only after you have begun to extend your hand should you make your verbal greeting. If you begin to talk before the gesture it could be a sign of deception. A genuine non-deceptive gesture should slightly precede or be in sync with your speech.
Offer an equal handshake. Your hand should typically be vertical with your thumb up. Place your palm against the other person’s palm so they are in full contact. This cannot be over emphasized. When your palm presses flat against the palm of the other person it creates a “connection” with that person and is a great way to start building rapport. The typical business greeting is three pumps. However, you should match the number of pumps to the corporate culture. Grip the other person’s hand slightly more firmly than theirs or match the pressure, but don’t get into a grip contest.
4. Be Big Not Small
Whether you’re sitting or standing, be relaxed and use open body posture to “take up space”. Doing so makes you appear bigger. Open posture demonstrates confidence, openness, and competence. Caution: don’t go overboard with this. If you go too far with this posture you will be perceived as disrespectful, arrogant, contemptuous and untrustworthy.
Most importantly, don’t display closed posture or anything that makes you look smaller or take up less space. Making yourself smaller demonstrates discomfort, anxiety, nervousness. Most importantly, small posture shows a lack of confidence and sometimes dishonesty depending on the context.
5. The Eyes Speak
One of the most telling part of body language is what people do with their eyes. There are 7 basic and universal human emotions. They are: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Surprise, Anger, Contempt and Disgust. Each of these emotions can be seen in the region of the eyes which includes the lower lids, the corners, the eyebrows and the eyes themselves.
When we tell a customer to “have a nice day” but display no facial congruence with our words, the customer is going to ignore what they hear, and believe what they see. Whenever you greet someone, you should always meet their eyes for just a second or two to demonstrate that you are in fact, interested in meeting them. From there the amount of eye contact you should hold varies by culture. However, in our culture the appropriate amount is 60 to 70 percent. Eye contact is a basic cue of friendliness, confidence and honesty. Too much or too little contact makes others uncomfortable.
6. Work Close but NOT Too Close
Proxemics is another important aspect of nonverbal communication, yet it is also very cultural and even subcultural in nature. Space and territory are critical in both sales and social situations. In our culture, we divide the classification of spaces as:
- 0 to 18 inches – “intimate space”
- 18 to 4 – “personal space”
- 4 to 10 feet – “social space”
- beyond 10 feet – “public space.”
Intimate space should be avoided whenever possible, especially when you don’t know the other person very well. If you are forced into intimate space, always try to keep your body turned to avoid being face to face in intimate space. By angling your body, you give the appearance of opening the space.
7. What Do I Do with My Hands?
It is always entertaining to watch a person do their first group presentation or speech. It’s as if at that moment they discover they have hands and have no idea what to do with them. There are a few Do’s and Don’ts regarding your hands.
- Don’t touch your face or neck.
- Don’t clasp your hands in front of you.
- Don’t put your hands behind your back.
- Don’t adjust your clothing or pick imaginary fluff
- Don’t rub your arm, hands or clothing.
Each of these gestures demonstrate anxiety, lack of confidence or deception and are not signals you want to convey to your prospect or client. Unfortunately, we often do these things subconsciously. The lower, emotional part of your brain cannot lie and therefore tend to express itself without conscious awareness.
Things you DO want to do with your hands:
- Allow them to hang comfortably by your side
- Gesture comfortably, confidently and appropriately
- “Steeple” or “Pyramid” your hands
- Keep your palms visible as much as possible
- Keep your gestures between your shoulders, neck and belt unless an expansive gesture is appropriate.
These gestures convey confidence, competence, power and honesty. This is what you want your prospects and clients to see. These gestures are critical to the “Silent Sale.”
8. Leaning for Meaning
When you feel emphatic about something and you want to indicate that you are charged about it, lean forward. Leaning in, expresses interest. If you are presenting to someone and you notice them leaning toward you they are usually, genuinely interested in what you are saying. When a person leans back they are generally trying to create space. If someone makes a prospect or client makes a statement such as, “That’s as high as we can go”, then immediately leans back, it is very likely they have lied. They have placed the lie on the table, then backed away, leaving it there.
9. Watch out for the Tilting Head
We all tend to tilt our heads to the side as we listen to people. A head tilt is a very good sign that you have someone’s attention. There are, however, things you should avoid or notice. In a business or casual setting a person will naturally tilt their head up to about 15 degrees. This is considered appropriate. If a person’s head tilts more than 15 degrees, it is a sign of flirtation. So be very careful how far you take your head tilt. Also, depending on their facial expression, a person may be tilting their head out of confusion trying to understand.
Tilting the head is also an open gesture and well as a sign of confidence move. By tilting your head, you are exposing one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. An attack on a person’s throat is potentially fatal. By exposing your neck, you are subconsciously telling the other person that you are willing to be open and honest, but also that you are not afraid if they are to attack.
10. Sounds of Silence
Don’t be afraid of silence. Some interviewers and executives deliberately create silence to see what you will do with it. Silence is a profound nonverbal communicator, and some people try to see how comfortable you can be with it and how you respond to it. Silence can also make your presentation more powerful.
There are two instances when comfort with silence is critical. The first is when you ask what a thought provoking question such as, “When was the last time…”. In these instances, the person will likely break eye contact and pause while they “find” the answer. Some people may need a few seconds to process the question so be patient.
Silence is also important when you ask for the sale. Imagine you have asked for the sale, the contract is out, you have a pen ready…then silence. Resist the urge to fill up the awkward pause with words. Let the other person feel awkward. The only way the feeling will stop is if they say something! It’s worth the wait.
This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive study on body language, but merely an outline of very specific nonverbal communication cues, which if acted on will make you a better communicator and a more effective sales professional.
If you really want to move your company’s contact me for more information on training your team to quickly increase their close rate through the power of understanding “The Silent Sell”, the language of the subconscious mind.
About the Author
James G. Springer is a 30+ year veteran in sales management and sales training. He has owned or managed numerous sales organizations. Additionally, he is a highly skilled and trained in a variety of verbal and non-verbal modalities, giving him a very special skill set which makes him uniquely qualified to Speak, Train, Coach and Consult in all aspects of Interpersonal Communication Skills including.
His Unique Skill Set Includes: Body Language, Micro Expressions, Deception Analysis, Personality Profiling, Advanced Handwriting Analysis, Sales Training, Covert / Conversational Hypnosis, NLP Master Practitioner
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