What You Don’t Say and What You’re Saying

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Nonverbal Communication and Selling

You walk into your prospect's office, you open your attaché and unfortunately everything spills out. Not a word was said, or was it? The impact of communication comes from both the verbal and nonverbal. The verbal is what we say and its impact on communication is 7 percent. The nonverbal is how we say it (38 percent impact) and how we look saying it (55 percent impact). Nonverbal communication is sending and receiving messages without words. We're all familiar with the meaning of the thumbs up signal. That's nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication has applications to many aspects of selling.

In technical sales we tend to tell our clients what we think they need to know. We think our words are selling, but telling isn't the only part of selling. If you look at the impact of the verbal component you see how little impact it does have. If I say the words “I'm happy to be here” in a monotone, with a scowl on my face and I look away from the listener as I speak the words, would you believe me? Of course not. Happy people smile. (It's how you should look. Impact: 55 percent). You sound happy if you are happy and you don't talk in a monotone. (It's how you should sound. Impact: 38 percent). So the verbal “I'm happy to be here” isn't believed.

Let's apply this to selling. When we make product recommendations we should sound confident. Avoid a monotone voice. Talking quickly can show excitement. You could also be perceived negatively as in the case of the fast talking salesperson. Slow down when you talk price. A louder voice is perceived as more assertive than a softer voice. When we ask for the business, we should make eye contact with our customer. Nonverbal communication helps us send a powerful message.

Our customers speak to us nonverbally. The interest our customers show in our products or services is inversely related to the distance our sales materials are from them. When you give a customer a brochure, does he keep it close to him (interest) or toss it casually away (not interested)?

Organized people are perceived as more knowledgeable than disorganized people. Going back to the attaché, isn't it a good idea to make sure that every paper that goes in is organized in a folder and comes out as intended (neat and uncreased). Just as your customers are judging you on your appearance, they are judging your believability on the tangible things you handle. For you new, young salespeople, a brand new attaché says, “I haven't been doing this long.” How can you address this nonverbal message you are sending?

Nonverbal communication has greater impact on our customers than the words we use. The nonverbal is how we sit, how we talk, how we walk, and how we dress. We should be aware of what we are saying nonverbally to make sure that it is consistent with our verbal communication. Successful selling!

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