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7 Ways to Improve Your Non-Verbal Selling Skills

non verbal communication

Contributor: Bob Phibbs

Your body language sends wordless cues long before you try to close a sale. The more you understand what your body is saying—oftentimes without you knowing it—the more you can see how often it gets in your way.

This is especially true when you are in a sales situation. Oftentimes our bodies communicate fear—which makes people look away.

Fear can cause you to silence your own voice when it needs to be heard. Most of all, fear keeps strangers at arm’s length. That’s because 55 percent of our communication with others is non-verbal.

55 percent of our communication with others is non-verbal. Click To Tweet

Our bodies can sense low vibrations long before someone’s words arrive.

Our bodies can sense low vibrations long before someone’s words arrive. Click To Tweet

Imagine what it would feel like to be approached by someone whose shoulders were slumped, who didn’t meet your eyes, whose arms were crossed. Would you feel engaged? Of course not!

Their body is telling you they weren’t being authentic. Their non-verbal cues make it hard for you to trust them.

Most people don’t even realize what their bodies are communicating, so the first thing to do is to simply notice your body position. Here are 7 ways to improve your non-verbal selling skills:

  1. Lift the sternum (the flat bone at the front center of your chest). This allows more oxygen into the lungs. A good image to maintain is that of a string pulling your posture up from your sternum. This allows your shoulders to become more relaxed when engaging strangers.
  2. Lean forward (but just a bit). Yes, it’s subtle, but it keeps you from leaning backward, which shows a negative attitude.
  3. Smile. A smile is your best tool to get someone to like you—and when you don’t smile, it’s the quickest way to turn someone off.A smile is your best tool to get someone to like you—and when you don’t smile, it’s the… Click To Tweet
  4. Meet their eyes. We like people who look at us. Too much eye contact can feel threatening, but too little makes you come off insincere. Yes, this is a balancing act to practice. Too much eye contact can feel threatening, but too little makes you come off insincere. Click To Tweet
  5. Gesture. Point directly at a feature and look at it with the customer. They will follow your gesture, and so will their eyes as you describe the benefit. Use an open hand or two fingers together, it’s perceived as more open and friendly.
  6. Arms open. Hold your arms open and loose to show a welcoming attitude. Arms folded over your chest indicate you are unsympathetic, authoritative, and at some level, you are closing yourself off from the other person.
  7. Stand side by side, not face to face. When you present something, stand by your customer’s side. This is non-threatening and allows you to do a sideways lean, which is friendly.

An old-school tip says to mirror your customer’s body posture. For example, if they use their hands a lot, you mirror that. If their arms are open, so are yours.

Mirror your customer’s body posture. Click To Tweet

If the customer suddenly crosses their legs and arms, you don’t want to mirror that. Their body is telling you they are closing off. You don’t want yours to say the same thing!

You need to maintain an open stance and see what you said or did to close them off. Addressing it with something like, “Did I just say something to put you off?” is a good way to bring them back.

It takes practice, but once you’re aware of your own body language, you want to be a student of your customer’s body language, too.

Begin by noticing your own behavior. In what situations do you lose your voice? At that moment, what does your body look like? When you’re about to close the sale, how does your body look? When do you notice your breath becoming shallow? When do you take a step back from a customer?

The more you can choose your body posture, the more you’ll find you can also choose your attitude. Using body language is like driving a car: if you aren’t choosing the direction and checking the instruments, you’ll often be taken to a place you didn’t want to be.

And while you might still be afraid at some level when engaging a stranger, when you use these tips, you act as if you aren’t afraid, which allows you to see through the fog of fear.

The more you master your body communication, the easier it will be to master your verbal communication.

The more you master your body communication, the easier it will be to master your verbal… Click To Tweet


Bob PhibbsBob Phibbs is a speaker, sales consultant, and author of The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business. With over 30 years’ experience, Bob provides practical information in a fun and memorable format. For more information, visit



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