Your body language sends wordless cues long before you try to close a sale. That’s because 55 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Do you cross your arms unconsciously? Do you leave your arms down like a corpse when you talk to someone? Do your shoulders slouch most of the time? Those unconscious habits won’t bring customers to you.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these tips for improving your non-verbal sales skills.

Lift the sternum (that’s 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.

Lean forward (but just a bit). Yes it’s subtle, but it keeps you from leaning backward, which shows a negative attitude.

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.

Meet their eyes. We like people who look at us. Too much eye contact can feel threatening, but too little and you come off insincere. Yes, this is a balancing act you must practice.

Gesture. Point directly at a feature and look at it with customers. 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.

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.

Stand side-by-side, not face-to-face. When you present merchandise standing by your client’s side, it is non-threatening. This allows you to do a sideways lean, which is friendly and non-threatening.

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.

If the customer suddenly crosses their legs and arms, you don’t want to mirror that. Their body is telling you they are closed 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.

Yes it takes practice, but once you’re aware of your own body communication, you want to be a student of your customer’s body communication too. The more you can choose your body posture, the more you’ll find you can also choose your attitude.

Source: Bob Phibbs is the CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York consultancy. As a speaker, sales consultant and author of The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business, he has helped thousands of businesses since 1994. With more than 30 years’ experience beginning in the trenches of retail and extending to senior management positions, his presentations are designed to provide practical information in a fun and memorable format.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson