10 Non-Verbal Gestures and Movements That Can Make or Break a Sale

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By Jonha Richman

When you’re selling a product or service to a new prospect or client, your sales pitch is obviously essential, but it’s not the only important part of the selling process. You can have the greatest pitch in the world, but if you exhibit awkward or negative non-verbal gestures during your meeting, it can leave a bad taste in the mouth of your prospect and negatively impact your chances of making the sale.

However, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong gestures if you build good habits from the beginning. Use movements as a way to make a great impression on your prospects and clients; over time, this can have a strong positive impact on your sales.

To make the best possible impression at your next sales meeting, implement these non-verbal gestures, which can help make your sale.

Walk with confidence

When you enter a room to speak with a potential client or customer, your walk can speak volumes about you and what you have to offer. Keep your back straight and your head up to communicate that you are confident about yourself, your company, and your product or service.

If you catch yourself walking hunched over, pick your head up, straighten your back, and walk like you’re being held up by a string that’s attached to the top of your head. This will show you’re friendly, prepared, and excited about the meeting, rather than appearing nervous or nonplussed.

Give a strong handshake

The handshake is another great opportunity for you to make an early impression on a prospect. Upon meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to shake hands. But if you look timid or give a half-hearted handshake, you won’t communicate the same confidence as if you stood up straight and gave a brief but solid handshake.

When you meet a prospect, whether it’s for the first or the 50th time, stand up, make eye contact, smile, and offer a firm handshake grip to make a great impression.

How to Give a Great Handshake

Be proactive with movement

When meeting a potential customer, making the process as easy as possible for them can make a world of difference. Even little things like meeting them where they are or walking over to them as soon as they announce their presence (instead of making them walk to where you are in the reception area) can help you make a good impression.

The action doesn’t have to save your prospects hours of time in order for them to take notice. Your goal should simply be to show them through small actions that you care and value their time.

Don’t slouch

When you’re sitting in a sales meeting, be careful with your posture. Slouching or leaning back on your chair can make it seem like you don’t care or don’t take the meeting as seriously as you should.

Instead, sit up with your spine straight and your chin up to show that you are highly involved in the process. This can communicate a message of confidence and also show your prospect that you respect their time and that you take the meeting seriously.

Face your prospect directly

Another way to show your potential clients or customers that you’re invested in them is to face them directly during your meeting. This may seem obvious, especially if you are meeting with someone in a traditional office and seated on either side of a desk. But even in that situation, if you sit sideways in your chair or constantly turn to grab items from your bag, it can take away from the message of commitment that you’re trying to communicate.

Stay seated upright and facing forward toward your client. And if you’re in a conference or meeting room where you’re sitting next to your prospect rather than directly across from them, face them when you talk and listen to help communicate a level of service and commitment that many potential clients value.

Practice good manners

Manners—verbal or non-verbal—can make a big difference when it comes to impressing a client. Say “thank you” and use other verbal cues to communicate your good manners. This can speak volumes to clients about your brand and your values.

Non-verbal gestures like holding doors open can help you communicate those values even further. And since they’re not as expected as saying “thank you,” those non-verbal manners and gestures can help you stand out in your prospect’s mind as someone with great values and a commitment to service.

Classic Meeting Etiquette

Make eye contact

The selling process is all about making connections, and eye contact is a big part of that. Think about it: If you’re having a conversation with a close friend, you probably face them directly and make regular eye contact. You may be a little less formal with your posture and other gestures in that situation, but the general idea is the same.

When you meet with sales prospects, put some of those same things into practice. You don’t want to stare into their eyes for the entire meeting. But try to be relaxed as if you were having a conversation with a friend. This can help you make real and lasting connections that they’ll remember long after your meeting.

Don’t fold your arms

While speaking to your potential client or customer, don’t take away from that feeling of caring and confidence that you’re trying to create by folding your arms. It can sometimes seem like a natural stance, especially if you don’t have anything in your hands or if the meeting area is cold. But folding your arms can make you seem closed off from the person you’re meeting with.

Instead, create a more accessible feeling by relaxing your arms at your sides or in your lap. Being relaxed (but professional) and not awkwardly rigid can make potential clients and customers feel more comfortable communicating with you. And that, in turn, can make it much more likely for them to purchase and build a lasting relationship with your company.

Signs of Active Listening

Nod as you listen

When you think about making a sale, you probably consider at length your pitch: what to say and how you’re going to say it. But the other side of selling involves a lot of listening. Your clients and prospects have a lot to say about what they’re looking for and any concerns they might have.

Active listening can be one of your greatest assets as a salesperson. It can give you insights into what customers want and show them how much you care about offering a product or service that’s the right fit for them. In order to get those benefits, you need to actually show them that you’re listening.

A simple nod and smile every now and then as your client or prospect speaks to you can communicate volumes. It may make them more comfortable with you so that they’ll actually share more about what’s on their mind. It also shows them, visually, that you are hearing what they have to say.

Communicate through your appearance

The gestures and movements that you use during meetings or sales pitches are certainly important when it comes to making sales. But you can communicate with clients before you even say or do anything. Through your daily appearance, you can say quite a bit about who you are, what you do, and what you can offer to clients.

If you show up to a meeting with a new client wearing clothes that are too casual, or on a day when you were rushed in getting ready, it’s probably not going to make the best impression, even if your sales pitch and the rest of your non-verbal gestures are on point. Make sure you show up in a clean, crisp outfit. Be well-groomed and look professional. It’s going to show clients that you care enough about them to put forth the effort to actually get ready for the meeting.

Non-verbal gestures can be a big part of the sales process. The wrong gestures can harm your chances of closing a sale. But if you build good habits and know what gestures are likely to resonate with clients and prospects, you can improve your chances of making a great impression and closing the sale.

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