When you speak to a prospect or a customer, indeed when you speak to anyone, the words that you say are important. At the very same time you utter the words there is something else communicating in the background that has the potential to either drown out what you are saying OR to give your words even more power. Body language is a key part of communicating a message and yet something that is so often overlooked.
People prefer to buy from people they trust, especially when larger sums of money are involved. When your body language, your words, and your actions are all in harmony it builds trust quickly. When they differ the prospect is often left feeling you cannot be trusted, although they are not exactly sure why.
People normally think of body language as being body posture. For example, sitting with your arms folded can be considered defensive; Leaning forward means you are interested; Nodding means you are listening. Our posture does have a key role to play, but is quite insignificant when compared to the impact of our facial expressions and our voices.
Our faces contain an amazing number of small muscles that all work together to communicate emotion. Furthermore, a large part of the human brain is devoted to reading faces and can do so in a fraction of a second. It is part of our natural defence mechanism to be able to detect if someone is a friend or foe. Similarly, our voices are capable of subtle nuances that all go to communicate what we are really thinking. Try talking about something exciting in a monotone voice. It is very hard for the other person to tell how you really feel about it. Indeed, sarcasm is when our voices tell the other person that we do not really mean what we have said but the opposite. Sarcasm is indicated through the voice and facial expressions.
Over the years I have found that being open and saying what is on your mind is a powerful way of quickly building trust. Having said that, I have also developed my diplomacy skills and learnt that the way in which we present things can make a big difference. Its like when we give a gift, it looks better when wrapped up with a pretty bow rather than in a brown paper bag. It is still the same gift, only one is more appealing than the other. If you tell what you are thinking then people will trust you more. If you deliver your words in a more impactful way they will not only trust you but listen to you too!
To develop this awareness of body language just pay attention to others. Try watching a TV interview or a drama with the sound turned down and see if you can understand what is going on. Also listen to talk radio and pay attention to the voice tones and expressiveness of the speakers.
Body language can be a powerful ally in sales communication when used well and definitely something worth working on.