Are your body language mistakes torpedoing your sales presentations?
Are any of these body language blunders derailing your sales meetings? You worked long and hard, preparing for this sales presentation. You know your products. You know, as best you can, what this prospect needs. You’ve researched the company and the person, and have found common ground. You are ready to ace this sales call. But before you head in to their office, check yourself: is your body language unwittingly taking the focus off of your message?
Here are the top 10 body language mistakes insurance agents – and other salespeople – make.
1. Shaking hands too weakly or too strongly
A weak handshake sends the message that you’re not strong, authoritative or self-confident. On the flip side, an overly strong handshake can signal that you’re too aggressive and will try to dominate the conversation. Instead, tailor your handshake to the person – but make sure it’s firm. As you shake, look the person in the eyes and smile.
2. Not making eye contact
When your prospect is speaking, be sure to make eye contact to show that you’re listening; otherwise, you look suspiciously like you have something to hide. Not making eye contact can also indicate lack of confidence. It’s ok, experts say, to look away when you’re talking, because you’re actually “accessing different parts of the brain by moving your eyes.” However, be sure not to look down too much – that says you are self-conscious and unsure. Shoot for sustained eye contact to portray confidence, intelligence and strength.
3. Too much eye contact
On the other hand, don’t stare or look prospects in the face for long periods of time. You can be seen as too aggressive. In our culture, seven-to-ten seconds is the average. Where you look when you break eye contact is important as well, said a Forbes article. Looking down indicates submission, while looking to the side projects confidence.
Bad posture is informal and totally out of place in a formal sales meeting. It makes you look too relaxed or even lazy. By slouching you’re intimating that you’re either not interested or not motivated. Even worse, it can be taken as a sign of disrespect. Instead, when you sit up straight or even lean slightly forward with your shoulders back and your arms relaxed, you’re speaking from a posture of power.
Playing with your hair, your necklace, your tie, touching your face, biting your nails – all are signs that you’re nervous, anxious and possibly over-stimulated. They also connote immaturity. Keep your hands still unless you’re gesturing.
6. Drumming your fingers
No doubt it’s a nervous habit, but you’re indicating that you’re bored, you don’t want to hear what they have to say, and you’re ready to wrap this up. It’s annoying. Don’t do it.
7. Watching the clock or checking your phone
Don’t allow yourself to become distracted. Your prospect will notice it, and perceive that you’re thinking you have someplace else you need to be. If the habit is that hard to break, leave your phone in the car.
8. Folding your arms
Crossing your arms is a closed body position. It’s a defensive posture, and says that you’re disagreeing, or that you’re uncomfortable. Instead, you want to appear interested and open-minded, so rest your arms on the chair’s arms or on the table in front of you.
9. Hiding your hands
“Keep your hands where we can see them,” says every TV detective or Old West sheriff. If you’re sitting across the desk or table from your prospect, keep them on the desktop or on the arms of your chair, and use them to make natural gestures. Natural gestures show that you’re open and honest.
10. Getting too close
Personal space varies from culture to culture, but be sure to respect your prospect’s space. Experts recommend keeping a distance of at least 18 inches. Getting too close physically can signal that you’re trying to dominate the other person, or that you have no respect for them. It makes others quite uncomfortable, so don’t stand too close.
It’s a lot to remember, isn’t it? Try practicing in your own staff meetings at first, being mindful of your actions, facial expressions, eye contact and more.