By: Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
Have you ever considered looking at the closing process of a sale from body language viewpoint? Have you thought about enhancing the closing process by reading the body language of your prospects and/or clients?
Since the closing process of a sale is part of the ‘give and take’ that occurs in any negotiation, wouldn’t it be nice to gather insight into your client’s mindset, based on the signals he emits via his body language? By possessing the ability to read body language and projecting it into the negotiation process when closing a sale, you create an advantageous position for yourself.
This article is different from the ‘run-of-the-mill’ articles on closing a sale, because it delves into how to view your client from a psychological and body language perspective. After reading it, you’ll gain insight into how you can increase your awareness of when to close a sale, based on observing a few body language gestures.
From a psychological standpoint, everyone wants and needs to feel safe in his or her environment. Thus, you need to understand how your client’s decision to use your product or service may be influenced by his perception of how his peers will view him. He may want to secure your offerings from another source simply because the other source has a greater name recognition, is perceived to be more reputable, or because his company has never had a problem with a particular vendor; there may be a host of other concerns that prevents him from closing the sale with you. Therefore, by mollifying your customer’s fears as you move towards the close of the sale, you increase the probability of a successful close.
- Body Language
Observe the degree your client mirrors your body language (i.e. mimic your body movements) when posing probing questions, the kinesthetic feelings you perceive from him, his eye movements, and the comfort gestures (i.e. rubbing his arm, touching his leg, etc.) he performs. Such signals and your perception of his state of mind allow you to gauge when to close him.
Have you ever had a ‘gut feeling’ about something? During such times, kinesthetically, you were attuned to the emotional state of your environment. There are times when we sense things in an environment and we’re not sure why we feel a certain way. The feelings are usually generated as the result of something we’ve picked up at a subconscious level that we’re not aware of at a conscious level. Take heed when you have such experiences. During such times, you’re more acutely aware of your environment than you think. If nothing else, when you have such a sensation, explore your feelings by posing your perception to the client in a manner that’s nonthreatening. Then, pay close attention to how he responds. Take note of what he does with his body during the response (see below for eye, hand, and mouth movements). Use that observance to detect your client’s emotional state of mind as you engage the closing process.
- Eye Movement
You can gain insight related to how the client fells about purchasing your product/service or how he made a similar purchase in the past, based on his eye movements. Do so by asking probing questions about those occurrences and noting how he responds.
By understanding his purchasing process, you can position your delivery (close) to match how he’s made purchases in the past, thus identifying the process through which he feels most comfortable doing so.
As you engage him in traversing his past purchases, observe if he looks up and to the left when he’s attempting such recall, or if he looks up and to the right. If he looks up and to the left, more than likely, he’s attempting to accurately recall how such a decision turned out and how he felt about it. If he looks up and to the right, he’s more than likely attempting to create how he might feel if he goes forth with the decision to utilize your product/service. (Note: Before accurately determining the direction in which your client uses his eye movement to recall or create visual or auditory factors from his past, first pose questions related to situations unrelated to your product/service and observe in which direction he looks to retrieve such information. See ‘eye movement’ chart below.)
Once you can accurately detect such eye movement, you’ll glimpse his mental state of mind related to how he really feels about your offer. You should also consider coupling his eye movements with him physically moving closer or further away from you shortly after you’ve detected the movement of his eyes. If he moves closer, his actions are signaling that he’s more receptive, versus physically moving away. In either case, you gain greater insight into his thoughts.
- Hand Movement
When conversing with someone, always lend attention to the movement of their hands. In the closing of a sale, give even more attention to the movement of your prospect’s hands. His hand movements will lend insight into the silent thoughts that he’s engaged in. As an example, if you suggest that he adopts a particular action and he puts his hand near or over his mouth, such a gesture may indicate that he doesn’t believe what you’re saying or he’s holding back his opinion. At such a point, consider either questioning him about his perception of your offer or reframing it. Then, observe what he does with his hands to detect if he’s become more amenable to your offer, or if he’s still in a mindset of being closed.
There is a host of other hand signals that you should be aware of, such as steepling (hands placed together as in the appearance of a church steeple – see picture below), balled fist, palms up, palms down, hand near ear, hand on chin/forehead, hands rubbing one another, etc. Those gestures will be discussed in another article. Suffice it to say, you can collect a lot of information about where you are in the closing process and how receptive your prospect/client might be to your closing efforts, based on what he does with his hands. The more aware you are of his hand signals, the better positioned you’ll be to succeed at your attempts to successfully close the sale.
- Mouth Movement
Like hand movements, after you’ve attempted to close the sale, the positioning of your client’s mouth,can also add value to your perception of the inner workings of his mind. If during your attempt to close the sale he raises a corner of his mouth, he could be displaying contempt for your offer. If his mouth becomes agape, he may be displaying surprise, which might be an indication that your offer has caught him off guard. Being caught off guard could imply he’s surprised that it’s so far off base, good or bad. In either case, probe to identify what you’ve perceived to more accurately detect the perception he has of your offer.
You convey part of the persuading process to close a sale though the manner in which you deliver your proposal. To be successful, you have to do it in a way that your prospect/client feels is best suited to his point of view.
It’s important to receive verbal feedback from your client when you’re attempting to close a sale, but it’s more important to observe what he does with his body when he’s giving you feedback. Words can convey one’s position and yet those words may drip with the perception of insincerity.
If you attempt to close a sale with conviction and assuredness, you stand a better chance of having it perceived as the right course to follow. In so doing, all things being equal, you’ll increase the probability of your efforts meeting with success.
By adding the ability to detect a few body language gestures to your repertoire, you’ll gain better insight into when it’s appropriate to close a sale, you’ll increase your closing percentages, and … everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert