Today’s post is by John Asher, CEO of Asher Strategies - a sales advisory consulting firm focused on improving sales for business-to-business companies. Asher is the number one rated speaker on sales for Vistage, a worldwide network of CEOs, and author of Close Deals Faster.
I spend a lot of time coaching business people on how to make sales. In these discussions I help them understand how the brain works and how the body mirrors what the brain is thinking.
In any sales process, the ability to recognize the buyer’s readiness to buy is the most critical principle of all. You need to watch for the buyer’s shift – when the buyer changes his or her point of view and decides to go with you and your offering.
Of course, you may get some verbal signals when they’re ready to buy. For example, if they ask you to repeat something, ask risk-mitigating questions, or shift the conversation to personal information. These indicate they’re leaning to buy mode.
But the buyer’s readiness to purchase is communicated predominantly by nonverbal signals. And most of us – most of the time – are talking and not watching for the other person’s body language.
Body language is more important than the dialogue you’re having with a buyer. Often, if you look and listen carefully, you may notice multiple buyer’s shift signals occurring simultaneously. But, if you see a mismatch between what the buyer is saying and the signals from their body language, always believe the body. It almost always conveys a person’s true feelings.
What should you look for in body language? The most important thing is tension. If it’s there, the buyers haven’t shifted. If they’re relaxed, they have shifted. It’s not possible to identify all the variations, but here’s a list that helps you see when buyers are “green’ (shifted) or “yellow” (not shifted):
Face – (Green) Smiling and slowly nodding or (Yellow) Scratching face and pursing lips
Eyes – (Green) Good eye contact with wide eyes or (Yellow) Sideways glances and squinting
Arms – (Green) Arms released and loose or (Yellow) Arms crossed and shoulders raised
Hands – (Green) Palms open and to the sides or (Yellow) Hands clenched or behind back
Legs – (Green) Legs uncrossed or crossed toward you or (Yellow) Bouncing legs and tapping feet
Body Angle – (Green) Upright and toward you or (Yellow) Leaning away from you
Reading body language is more an art than science. It’s observance of “tells” that psychologists, card players, and people with high emotional intelligence use to understand other people.
And body language can vary geographically. The crossed arms of a Midwest farmer, for example, may mean “I’ve laid down my tools and am giving you my full attention” rather than “I’m not listening to you.” Further, some cultures are more energetic in their gestures and easier to read. The key: It’s mainly about the presence or absence of tension.
One final thing to remember is your own body language. If you don’t monitor it and relax, you’ll give off a negative impression. Even in a tense situation, don’t let your own tension spoil your message. With buyers who haven’t shifted, your relaxed body language will help them feel it’s safe to. If buyers have shifted, you’ll reinforce their positive impression that you’re the one to deal with. By reading their body language and adjusting yours, you’ll greatly increase your chances that buyers will buy you and your offering.