Are you aware that your body language reveals your deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers? It might surprise you to know research indicates that over 65% of our communication is done nonverbally. In fact, studies show that nonverbal communication has a much greater impact and reliability than spoken word. Therefore, if your prospect's words are incongruent with their body language gestures, you would be wise to rely on their body language as a more accurate reflection of their true feelings. Body language is a complex mixture of movement, posture, and tone of voice. The good news about this subject is that your subconscious mind already understands meaning of every gesture, posture and voice inflection. The bad news is without proper training you are unable to consciously apply this information. Developing a working understanding of body language is similar to learning a foreign language; it requires time and effort to achieve mastery.
As a professional salesperson you must continuously monitor your prospect's body language and adjust your presentation accordingly. Think about tremendous advantage you would have as a baseball manager if you knew meaning of opposing teams signals. For example, suppose you knew in advance that other team was planning to steal second base. You would have a distinct edge because you would be able to adjust your strategy accordingly. Are you missing your prospect's signals? By understanding your prospect's body language gestures you will minimize perceived sales pressure and know when it is appropriate to close sale.
Several years ago I read an interesting article about a body language experiment conducted with college students. The researchers divided students into two groups. The first group of students was asked to maintain an open body posture during class lecture. They were instructed to keep their heads up, both feet on floor and their arms unfolded. The second group of students, attending same class, was instructed to use closed body posture by crossing their legs and folding their arms during lecture. At conclusion of lecture both groups were interviewed and tested. Those students that were asked to maintain a closed body posture scored 38% less in their retention of information and, of equal significance, they had a more critical opinion of both material and professor. As a professional speaker, I share a similar challenge with college professor. As I begin my presentation, I can anticipate that a significant number of audience will initially display closed body posture. They will have their legs crossed, their arms folded and their heads down. I know that if I am to be effective my primary task is to connect with audience and get them to adjust their body language into a more receptive posture before real learning can begin.
Here are some important body language gestures you need to become familiar with:
Body Postures: There are two basic categories of body postures; Open/Closed and Forward/Back. In an open and receptive body posture, people have their arms unfolded, legs uncrossed, and their palms exposed. In a closed body posture, arms are folded, legs are crossed and their body is usually turned away.
· Leaning Back and Closed: Indicates a lack of interest.
· Leaning Back and Open: Indicates contemplation and cautious interest.
· Leaning Forward and Closed: Indicates potential aggressive behavior.
· Leaning Forward and Open: Indicates interest and agreement. If appropriate, this would be a good time to ask for order.