It won’t come as a surprise to you that a major part of human communication is made up of body language and non-verbal gestures. And yet, it’s amazing how rarely this knowledge is used in day-to-day interactions.
As a small business owner or a sales rep, you spend a large portion of your time interacting face to face with prospective clients. You may have heard that people do business with those they know, like and trust. I like to add here that people do business with those that inspire confidence and come across confident.
So, how do you appear confident to your prospective client? I’m not going to bore you with the usual stuff you find in most articles because after all, you already know that smiling, making eye contact, not crossing your arms across your chest, keeping your toes pointed towards the person you’re speaking with etc are valid and time-tested gestures that lead to open and engaging conversations.
I’m going to talk about three specific gestures that have helped me tremendously in my long career in sales.
a) The Triple Nod
Imagine this scenario: You’ve just explained your brand and what you do to a prospective client in a face to face situation. You follow this up with a thoughtful question to try and understand your client’s pain-points and how your product or service can be the solution they’re looking for. The customer mutters a sentence or two and then pauses. At this point in the conversation, you feel tempted to jump in and fill the pause by talking enthusiastically again about what you have to offer. Don’t! Effective entrepreneurs know that letting the customer talk is of vital importance. Also, a client figuring out for himself or herself that your brand is the ideal fit for them is far better than you telling them it is. Confident people enjoy listening and don’t always want to be driving a conversation. So, when the client pauses, how do you encourage them to keep talking? Lean forward, maintain eye contact, and nod slowly three times. This is a silent signal that conveys the message ‘Keep going…I’m interested in what you’re saying…I’d love to know more.’ Most likely, the opposite person will pick up the conversation thread where they had left it.
b) The perfect hand shake
Ok, I’m just going to put it out there. There’s nothing worse than a wimpy hand shake. A weak handshake conveys lack of confidence or lack of interest, and neither will help your cause if you’re trying to build a client base and get more sales. Just the other day, at a business networking event, I was introduced to a lady who held out her hand half-heartedly and merely brushed her fingertips to mine. My brain automatically registered that I wouldn’t really want to do business with someone who obviously had no interest in showing her brand in the best possible light. So, what’s the ideal handshake…one that exemplifies confidence, self-faith and quiet enthusiasm? When introduced to someone, stand up and hold out your right hand. The only exception is if the person being introduced is already seated in which case you can continue remaining seated. Your palm should connect fully with the other person’s palm. Make sure to shake hands firmly just once, maximum twice. Too enthusiastic hand-pumping can be perceived as unprofessional and over-familiar. The right handshake is a balance between a knuckle-crushing grasp and a lifeless, limp one.
c) The Hand Steeple
This gesture is an effective one, particularly when used just before responding to a query made by your client. This hand gesture is when you bring both your own palms together and let your fingertips touch in a steeple or roof-top shape. This signals that you value the question you’ve been asked and are giving it some deep and careful thought before responding. The client immediately senses that you’re not trying to simply make a quick sale and that you care about truly understanding where the core problem lies. (On a different note, this pose is often used by chess champions when they’re confident about their next move or confident that the opponent is making a grave mistake.)
So, these are my top 3 body-language tips which will help you on your journey towards presenting yourself and your brand in the best possible manner. Confidence is a universal magnet and the more your portray it, the more people will be drawn to you. As the very wise Samuel Johnson once said: ‘Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings”
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