Scientists have proven statistically what many of us have known for a long time: Nonverbal communication (body language and tone of voice) is critical to building trust, and without trust, there is no sale. But there are some positive things you can do to win people’s trust.
Researchers at the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that body language, vocal pattern, and vocal pitch are so critical to human trust that the researchers could predict the success of a sales pitch by reading body language alone. They didn’t even have to hear the content of the pitch.
These nonverbal communication principles apply to the negotiation phase of the sales process as well. Conveying a negative message during negotiations could kill a perfectly good deal. Some salespeople don’t feel confident about negotiating and would rather be at another stage in the process.
But now more than ever before salespeople want to make the sale. Maybe it’s an internal drive or maybe the company is setting more aggressive goals. Whatever the reason for your sales goals, you must be careful to send the correct nonverbal message. Come off like you are needy or pushy and you are out. Come off as confident and assured and you are in.
To avoid conveying unease with body language at the bargaining table, consider the following tips.
Use positive body language, such as nodding your head in agreement or looking the person in the eye, in order to encourage the speaker to continue with his or her thoughts. This is simple enough but easily forgotten. Smartphones and e-mail are downright addictive, and when you turn your attention away from the speaker to check your messages, you are indicating that he or she is not as important as the e-mail. Other aspects of body language include gently leaning toward speakers while they talk, keeping your hands still and placed where they can be seen, and being relaxed in your posture while sitting or standing. These same tips apply just as much when you are on the phone as in person. People can sense when you are distracted during a conversation.
Choose Your Message
Choose your vocal inflection and vocal pitch. There are striking differences between frustration and relaxation that are reflected in your voice. Say for example that you are frustrated that you are not permitted to be more flexible in meeting a customer’s needs. Unwittingly conveying that frustration toward the customer could cost you the account because the customer may sense the frustration without knowing the cause. It is your responsibility during the negotiation phase of the sale to choose the message you want to send.
Match Their Speed
Your goal is to match the talking pattern of the person you are talking to. Some people might talk rapidly, summarizing points, while others might meander around more. If you are involved in a complex sale, you might talk to the financial buyer, the internal champion, and the end user of your product or service. Each of these people will have different speaking patterns. It is not a false mimicking but rather gives them the content in the manner that they find most attractive.
Jeanette Nyden is an author, mediator, public speaker, and president of J. Nyden & Co. Inc, a Seattle-based negotiation skills training company.