“A picture is worth a thousand words” may ring truer for some than others, but all of us speak volumes to others without uttering a word.
As most large purchase transactions include face-to-face interaction (like boat sales), it may be very worthwhile for salespeople to become students of body language.
As children we learn how to speak in order to obtain something we want. We learn what behaviors work to get the intended result. If you think about it, salesmanship is not too different. In general, we try to provide enough “talk” to eventually gain a buyer’s trust so that he will hopefully make an equitable buying decision.
Speech is a key component in a sales scenario, but there is also a frequently overlooked element that could make or break the sale. Non-verbal communication – better known as body language (not as well known as “kinesics“) – can indicate both positive and negative feelings harbored by either party without them speaking a word.
Here are some simple everyday examples from the sales floor:
When you are showing a prospect a new boat, see if he touches it. If he just stands away from the vehicle and listens to you spew all of the specs (oy), he’s not engaged. Conversely, if he puts his foot up on the boat or trailer while you’re talking that is a positive buying sign (he’s trying to claim the boat as his own).
When you are talking price to someone, pay attention to the feet. If their feet are pointed towards the door, they are not digesting the price and want to leave. If you walk up to two people conversing and they open their stance towards you, they are inviting you to participate in the conversation.
Your body language is also subconsciously saying things to the buyer. It’s important to understand that one visual clue by itself may not tell the whole story. If you stand with your arms crossed for example, this could indicate a couple different things:
- You are insecure, protecting yourself
- You are closed to social influence
- You are cold
One of the most well-published authors on this subject, Carol Kinsey Goman goes on to say that crossing of the arms, as well as hand touching (your own/their own), face touching and leaning away, may all be telltale signs of a liar. Again, no judgments here – and don’t take just one sign as gospel. Goman suggests starting an interaction displaying engaging body language, such as smiling, nodding, mirroring and open gestures.
Observing people in an airport is a terrific way to study non-verbal cues. Another great exercise to try is to turn off the sound on your TV and see if you can understand what is going on.
Fine-tuning your own personal gestures and observing subtle clues from others will enhance your overall communication skills and ultimately may mean more boat sales and a happier life.