Achieving sales success through body language

Posted in Sales techniques and processes.

The majority of communication is non-verbal. The most-quoted statistic is that 93% of all communication consists of gestures, facial expressions, posture and vocal tone, while only 7% of messages are conveyed through words. There is no doubt that non-verbal communication plays a big role. Selling is an ongoing series of communicative efforts between the salesperson and the potential buyer. The importance of using body language in these communicative efforts cannot be denied and there are many ways in which you can use this knowledge to influence, anticipate and close a deal.


As soon as a person mirrors the movements of someone else, it shows that the person mirroring likes the other individual and is interested in what they have to say. It also shows empathy for the other person and approachability.

Mirroring is often a subconscious behaviour but you can easily train yourself to mirror or copy the movements of a potential buyer. However, be careful not to mirror everything as this may seem too obvious or may even feel like you are mocking them. There are plenty of things you can mirror including posture, blinking rates and eye contact.

Lean forward

Leaning forward is one of the best ways to show that you are interested in the other person’s story, which is important if you want to show your customers that you value them. If a person starts moving further away from you, then they are probably losing interest in what you are selling. See this as an opportunity to reel them back in.

Eye contact

There are two types of eye contact – positive and negative. Positive eye contact isn’t about seeing how long you can hold their gaze but about making sure they realise you are listening. If you are looking everywhere but at them you will either look like someone they cannot trust or as if you are not interested in what they have to say.

Aggressive, negative eye contact means staring into someone’s eyes no matter what. Avoid this through making eye contact that feels natural instead of forced. If a person rapidly flits between making eye contact and not, they may be unsure, confused or distrustful despite any verbal confirmations they give.

Open up

Opening up means that you should expose the front of your body by not obstructing it with crossed arms or a hunched over posture. Open up the palms of your hands when you gesture and plant your arms wide across a flat surface. These expressions will show the customer that you are open to what they have to say and that you are willing to communicate freely with them. That, in turn, relays a sense of trust.

No pointing

It is considered rude in many cultures to point. Even if you and your client are on the same level culture-wise, it is advisable to point or gesture not with one finger but rather with a full open-palmed hand or two fingers. This displays respect while a one-finger point can be seen as accusatory and aggressive.

Stop fidgeting

It is easy to get carried away with overly-exaggerated hand gestures and body movements if you are truly passionate about what you are selling, but rather let the sale do the talking and not your hands. If you are too expressive with your body, it may distract the potential buyer from what you are saying.

Strike a high-power pose

A high-power pose is about taking up space in a room so that you appear powerful and assertive. Strangely enough, this comes from animals where the leaders of the pack often puff out their chests to assert their authority. If you appear like you are in control, customers are more likely to trust your judgement and what you are saying.

Standing upright and leaning forward, often planting your hands widely on a surface will show dominance over the situation. Other parts of a high-power pose include standing with your hands on your hips or leaning back with your hands interlinked behind your head (thus taking up lots of space around you).

Take notice of feet

The feet of your customer can be the key to knowing where you stand with them. Feet are something people often don’t think of controlling. If a customer’s feet are facing away from you, you may not have won them over and they don’t like you very much (sorry!)

Remember to focus on your own feet as well. Feet planted wide apart from each other show confidence, while feet placed tightly together show timidity. That timidity may make a customer think that you don’t know what you are doing or are not confident in what you are trying to sell to them.

Contradictory body language

Just because a person says “yes” doesn’t always mean that they are truly agreeing. Look at what their body is saying versus what they are verbalising. If you notice a person nodding while you are talking, the person is agreeing with what you are saying and is showing their positive reaction in the most honest way. If a person scrunches their brows, avoids eye contact or cross their arms while verbally agreeing, you may not have this deal in the bag.

Being a good salesperson means taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, even the things people may not be consciously aware of. Being aware of the body language both you and your customer display is not there to help you to manipulate a situation but rather a way to see where you are succeeding and where you are failing. Reading body language can help you adjust your way of selling immediately instead of waiting until the deal falls through.