Posture Perfect: Are you unconsciously sending prospects the wrong message? Here’s how fixing your body language mistakes can help you win more opportunities.
As salespeople, we often focus on our pitch and the carefully selected words we use when speaking with prospects, but what about our body language? Are we making major body language mistakes that are holding us back from closing more deals?
55% of effective communication comes down to body language mistakes
A famous study by UCLA Professor Albert H. Mehrabian found that only 7 per cent of effective communication actually comes down to the words we say. 38 per cent comes from the tone of our voices, and another 55 per cent depends on our body language.
How we stand, where our eyes look, our hand gestures and even subtle movements can all make a difference in the interpretation of our sales pitches. But the most effective communicators will combine all three parts: the words spoken, the tone of voice and the body language.
The professional sales training team at Sales Grail explains that a sales person’s body language can immediately spark customer engagement. “What we mean by posture is not a cocky guy with his feet up on his desk — this is just rude and it suggests a lack of humility in one’s leadership and sales approach. Rather, by posture, we mean one of openness and confidence.”
When genuine, that confidence can help you develop a stronger connection with the prospect, as they describe. “When we’re really behind something, we become an amazing combination of characteristics. We’re relaxed, yet passionate. We’re calm, yet excited. We’re understanding, yet persistent.”
Here are six body language mistakes you might be making, and how you can turn your visual communication and body language into a sales secret weapon.
Mistake 1: Slouching — especially while on the phone
You’ve likely heard that sitting is the new smoking, but has that made you get out of your chair more? At the very least, have you sat up a little straighter when seated? This is one of those body language mistakes that we’re likely all guilty of doing.
“Research has shown that sitting in a slouched position can send “sad signals” to your brain. You are more likely to produce cortisol, a stress hormone, and experience negative thoughts when you slouch. Slouching also can make you feel disempowered and weak compared to the people you’re interacting with – whether in person, on the phone, or even over email.” – Tech.co
Mistake 2: Too little (or too much) eye contact
“It’s good to maintain eye contact 70% to 80% of the time. Any more and you might appear threatening, any less and you may appear uncomfortable or disinterested.
Good eye contact exudes confidence, engagement and concern. Plus, it’ll help you read your customers’ emotions and body language.” – Customer Experience Insight
Mistake 3: Never “power posing” before meetings
“Breakthrough research from Professor Amy Cuddy at Harvard Business School…proves that body language and body positioning directly impact self-confidence and feelings of power. … Professor Cuddy’s research indicates that a salesperson (or anyone about to go into a stressful situation) should assume a high power pose for at least two minutes. Rather than hunch over an iPhone, a salesperson should find a private place to spread their arms and pull their shoulders back.” – Fast Company
Mistake 4: Dressing to blend in, not to fit in
“First impressions get set in stone very quickly. And, like it or not, the way you look is the most important factor in shaping those first and lasting impressions.
“The key is to always dress well enough to fit in with the top people you’re calling on, yet never to blend in with the wallpaper. Think of your clothes as the way you package yourself. Always dress in a way that creates the maximum positive impact on the people you want most to impress – your customers.” – Selling Power
Mistake 5: Talking too much with your hands
This isn’t to say that you should completely stop hand gestures. They are an important part of getting your message across and creating dynamism and charisma in your communication. But overdoing your hand movements can be a distracting body language mistake that can have an undesired effect.
«Avoid chopping gestures … Whole arm karate chop gestures can psychologically cut up the space between you and your interview in an aggressive way … Pointing is often perceived as an aggressive motion and in some cultures is considered incredibly rude. … Any fast, repeated or aggressive hand gestures should be kept to a minimum. … [Instead] you should appear open and approachable, which means your hands should be in front of you and ready to gesture naturally.” – Forbes
Mistake 6: Work the room
Whether it’s a presentation, speech or in-person sales call, making strategic physical moves could draw attention to the right discussion points.
“To bring movement to your speech, use the physical space you have available and walk it. For example, if you’re presenting three points, talk about point A when you’re at your first position; then move out 2 or 3 steps and talk about point B; this way, a movement that includes space will accompany your speech.” – HubSpot