I am not a body language expert, however I can tell you what I have learnt from the experts and out into practice over 6 years as Physiotherapist and several years in sales. Highly recommended reading is the brilliant book, “The Definitive Book of Body Language” written by two of the world’s foremost body language experts, Alan and Barbara Pease. This is one of most important business related books you will ever read.
Introduction to Body Language:
The scientific research has shown that 60-80% of our all of our communication is through non-verbal body language and that body language is a far more accurate & truthful predictor of thoughts than spoken words, as body language is carried out on a subconscious level. So, if body language has been shown to be a far more accurate predictor of what someone is actually thinking and feeling, then why are so many of us so oblivious to our own body language and the body language of those around us?!
After practicing as a private practice Physio 6 years and now being in sales for several years, I have come to the conclusion that in addition to having the ability to develop rapport with a person, that body language is possibly the most important skill a person can have when it comes to dealing with people. This is simply because what someone verbally conveys to you is not always congruent with their body language is telling you and I have learnt that when there is incongruency between the persons spoken word and their body language, I will always make my judgements based on what the body language is telling me as body language does not lie!
Once you are able to read someone’s body language, interactions with your customers become more enjoyable for both parties, you will able to tell if your customer feels comfortable or nervous / anxious around you, you will be able to tell if they agree with what you are saying or not, you will be able to tell if the person has some form of hidden objection or apprehension and if they are happy with what you are doing and saying. You will be then able adjust accordingly and ask further probing questions, provide them with more options and further reassurance as needed until you solve their hidden objection or apprehension.
The basics of body language:
You should never read body language gestures in isolation. Reading body language is similar to reading sentences, it’s only when you read a sequence of words in sentence that you can fully understand the meaning. When reading body language, you should look for patterns or clusters of the same type of body language gestures before you try to interpret the gestures meaning, e.g, Pattern of crossed arms & legs not just one isolated quick arm cross. Body language also needs to be read in context, there will be times when the person is just cold or itchy or cross legged because they are wearing a short dress.
‘What about if I just feel comfortable in this position?’ There are of course times when a person will feel more comfortable in a particular position & there will always be exceptions to the rules, however, it’s important to remember that when someone feels nervous, anxious, insecure or defensive, crossed arms + legs will feel more comfortable as it reflects their dominant mood at the time. Your body language will mimic what your subconscious mind is thinking and your minds feeling will also follow your body language, they both affect each other. So, stay open & positive!
You need to be aware of your own body language:
Unless impractical to do so, when interacting with a customer, you should aim to never cross your arms and legs and you always exhibit open body language. When selling Archies Flip Flops at events, crossing of the arms and legs is banned! When I first started practicing as a physio, I was always very nervous about asking the patient to come back to see me as I was worried that they would just think I was trying to make money off them. My body language reflected this and I would speak to my patients with my arms tightly crossed and my hands gripping my arms. Do you know how bad this looks to a patient who subconsciously reads this body language? When you exhibit closed body language the research has shown that people will subconsciously interpret you as being negative, they will develop a less favourable impression of you, they will be less open and receptive to what you are saying, you will sell less. I cringe watching ‘professional’ sales people sell with the same negative body language!
Principles to follow:
The research has shown that if you follow the below principles, your customers feel more comfortable around you, you will leave them with the best possible impression, they will be more open and receptive to what you are saying and the end result is that you will sell more:
OPEN BODY LANGUAGE
CLOSED BODY LANGUAGE
ALWAYS sell like this
NEVER sell like this
Reading your customers body language:
In addition to being very aware of your own body language, you should always be carefully observing your patients or customers body language. If you are doing so, you can easily work out whether or not the person is open and receptive or if they are negative / defensive to what you are doing and saying. It is important to remember, that body language is a far more accurate predictor of the person’s actual thoughts and feelings than what they verbally convey, so pay close attention to their body language if you want to make the customer feel comfortable, happy and more open and receptive to what you are saying. While it can take some time to get used to, overtime, with practice it will become easier and easier and eventually you will be able to read a person’s true thoughts like a book!
EXAMPLES OF CLOSED OR NEGATIVE BODY LANGUAGE
Some of the signals that the customer may be ready to buy:
If you are seeing positive buying signals from the customer, do not go on talking, simply ask the customer:
“Would you like to see what they feel like?” always use this wording over “Would you like to try them on?”
Once you train yourself to look for these signals, reading body language becomes super easy and you can read your patient or customer like a book and change your “plan of attack /sales pitch” accordingly.
Did you know that the research has shown that the ‘cheeky elbow touch’ as I like to call it which is gently touching the potential customer on the elbow with your hand for 1-3 seconds during the sales process and NO longer helps create a favourable bond between you and the customer, people like you more and result in greater sales. If you don’t believe me just read this article written in Forbes magazine.
If you don’t believe me just read this article written in Forbes magazine.