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Building Rapport Through Body Language

Have you ever wondered why it is that some sales people just seem to have a knack for the job? Not only do these "Super-Salesmen" seem to snare new prospects at alarming rates, but their repeat business rates are nigh on unbelievable. "What do they know that I don't," you may wonder. The short answer to this question is "nothing." Now you're probably thinking "that's ridiculous" - you might even want to stop reading...but read on. The long answer is better, I promise.

Let's start clearing away the shroud of mystery.

The simple fact is these salespeople don’t know anything that isn’t encoded into your limbic system. Up until now, you’ve been studying body language and its applications to salesmanship. You’ve learned all about mirroring and can spot a bored or angry prospect from the driveway. The only thing the “Super-Salesman” has on you is a new application of the same old knowledge. The Super Salesman comes to the door a stranger and an hour later leaves as a dear old friend. To his prospect, he isn’t just a guy “selling” anything. He is a trusted confidante; someone who would fit in as well on a family picnic as on a sales call. How did she gain that kind of trust? She certainly didn’t accomplish this feat by cold-calling in the middle of dinner. If you're familiar with these articles, you’ve probably already guessed how she did. That's right, it was body language.

"Super-Salesman" comes to the door with an appointment, a friendly smile and a keen eye for the unspoken message. He mirrors positive signs and skillfully circumvents his prospect’s subconscious negative gestures. Most of all, he is honest and open, inviting trust and confidence.

First, we'll talk some more about mirroring. The overall effect of mirroring is to create the impression of being on the same wavelength as another. This is a purely psychological effect in as much as when two people spend vast amounts of time together, they tend to adopt each other's habits. This is precisely the sort of familiarity shared by best friends and close family members who claim to read one another’s thoughts. It isn’t hard to see that mirroring tends to project familiarity, leading a prospect to feel as though you genuinely understand him.

Next, you want to be sure to project openness and honesty with your own body language. There are a few important things to keep in mind here. Avoid crossing your legs, even if this position is comfortable for you. Instead, sit with your legs together, both feet on the floor. Subliminally, this tells your prospect two things: That you are open and being honest, and that you are stable. The same holds true for your arms; don’t cross them in front of your chest. Crossed arms indicate a defensive or closed off attitude – and even if you don’t feel this way, changes are you will unconsciously be PERCEIVED this way.

Now lets discuss your eye contact. Try to look directly into your client’s eye nose triangle, move across from eye to eye to nose and back to eye again, especially when listening. Remember not to use what I call the stalker stare – (directly staring into someone’s pupils for long periods of time) as this can make your prospect uncomfortable. You want to project trust, confidence and understanding, which will not be accomplished by projecting creepy stares.

Most importantly, listen to your client and give sincere, truthful answers. There is no better sign in a sales relationship than getting a prospect to open up and do the talking. If you listen closely and sincerely, he will tell you everything you need to know about his needs. If you can honestly provide for those needs, you have a sale.
An ideal sales relationship is one in which both buyer and seller share feelings of mutual trust and understanding. Establishing these qualities early on will help to build a tremendous amount of confidence. By learning to use body language to project honesty and commitment, you will find yourself soaring rapidly into the ranks of the “Super-Salesmen.”


Tonya Reiman

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