You’ve gone through your sales script with a fine-toothed comb. You’ve scrutinized your word choices to no end and prepared all of the technical information you need to respond to any question. You’ve covered all your bases, right? Not if you have neglected to consider how your body language will affect your presentation!
It’s often said 93% of all communication is nonverbal. And while psychologists have determined that number doesn’t apply to every situation, it’s clear that body language plays a crucial role in how our messages are transmitted in face-to-face conversations.
Review and remember the following six body language habits to ensure you never again neglect the importance your nonverbal actions have in your sales calls.
1. Maintain an appropriate level of eye contact
Eye contact is the most fundamental aspect of interpersonal communication, so it’s no surprise that it plays a significant role in all face-to-face sales situations. In a conversation, looking your partner in the eye sends a signal that you are engaged, actively listening, and interested in what they have to say. Eye contact isn’t the only part of your body language you need to be aware of, but it’s nearly impossible to make a strong connection in its absence.
What you have to be careful with is how much time you spend looking the other person in the eyes. If you do it too little you’ll seem nervous and disengaged; stare at them for extended periods of time and you may make them uncomfortable. According to experts, the ideal amount of time to maintain eye contact during a conversation is between 60% and 70%.
2. Smile occasionally
Sales pitches are obviously professional situations; cackling like you’re at a stand-up comedy show is out of the question. But just because it’s professional doesn’t mean that it has to be deathly serious. Smiling when you meet someone, and at appropriate times during the conversation, helps put people at ease and reduces tension in the room.
It’s important to train yourself to smile authentically, because otherwise it may look like you are concealing something or sucking up. Authentic smiles don’t just involve the mouth, but they cause your upper facial muscles to move as well, resulting in a dynamic shift throughout the entire face.
3. Stand straight and tall
You probably won’t be standing for the majority of your sales meetings, so it’s crucial to make the most of the time when you will be. Many people have a tendency to slouch their shoulders or hang their head slightly while standing, and these are traits you absolutely need to banish if you hope to be successful in sales.
Whenever you are standing, remember to stand as straight and tall as you possibly can. Good posture promotes a sense of confidence, as it sends a message to the other people nearby that you are self-assured and at ease in the room.
4. Open yourself up… literally!
Whether they’re sitting or standing, people in a conversation often cross their arms, legs, or feet reflexively. It may be because they are feel guarded physically or emotionally, or simply for additional comfort, but it always has the same effect on the other party. When others encounter a closed-off pose, they will likely interpret it as you being defensive and unwilling to compromise.
There’s another compelling reason to keep your arms and legs uncrossed during sales calls, and surprisingly enough it has to do with information retention. According to results from a study on body language, participants remembered 38% more of the content from a lecture when they sat with their arms and legs open as opposed to crossed.
5. Lean towards your counterpart
Another body language habit that’s done largely out of comfort is leaning back in a chair, particularly when someone else is speaking for an extended period of time. You may initially think this is a beneficial pose, because it can denote ease and a level of relaxation among the participants. But there is such a thing as being too relaxed, and leaning back in your chair frequently can suggest a lack of engagement on your part. You want to be comfortable, but it’s also important to remember you aren’t in your living room watching a movie. Lean towards your counterpart slightly to reinforce the fact that you are there to help them first and foremost.
6. Use gestures when they will have optimal impact
We’ve all seen famous public speakers gesticulating wildly, enthralling their rapt crowds with frequent and rapid movements. Some inexperienced presenters see this behavior and think emulating it is the way to keep an audience’s attention. In reality, however, you have to be very experienced to pull this off, and a stream of meaningless gestures usually makes you seem unprepared and random in lieu of in-command. Teach yourself to keep the gestures to a minimum, and deploy them at powerful moments so they have a tangible impact on the conversation.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
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