2.3. Body Language and Conduct during consultative discussion

Send the right message through Body Language

Let’s suppose you’ve just made contact with a potential customer, perhaps at a networking event or in a cold call. The prospect has expressed keen interest in learning about your offerings and now it’s time to finally have that “substantive” meeting with your prospect. At the outset you already know that shifty eyes and a dead-fish handshake will work against you and ruin your first impression. But what you might not know is how crucial your physical stance and body language is in changing how you feel and how, in turn, your prospect feels about you.

It has been observed that most sales rock stars, no matter how experienced, still get anxious and apprehensive when it comes to in-person meetings. Being nervous can have a huge impact on your body language which in turn, can have a big impact on your ability to close deals.

According to researchers at Princeton[i], people decide on your trustworthiness in a tenth of a second so you need to understand how to make the best of that snap judgment.

Two regions of the brain help us make those important first impressions of a person: the two amygdalae and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC).

  • The amygdalaereceive information from all of our senses and are crucial in forming memories, particularly those associated with emotional events.
  • The PCCis one of the most metabolically active areas of the brain, involved in everything from forming emotional, spatial and autobiographical memories to assessing the value of different objects and decisions and calculating bets.

Simply stated, meeting someone for the first time stimulates the same areas of the brain that process emotional memories and value objects, so in those first few moments you want give the other person a reason to trust and value you.

And that can be as simple as a smile, a firm hand shake or the look in your eyes as you speak.

It is rightly said ‘It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it’. As a matter of fact, especially in sales, what you say matters a lot less than how you’re perceived. You have to exude confidence and calmness when calling on prospects. Because, if you don’t, they are sure to pick on it and you won’t be seen as trusted and valued.

Avoid these 6 Body Language mistakes to get the most out of your Sales Meetings

(This will keep your prospects focused on your message-not on you)


1. A Limp Handshake:

A person’s handshake style conveys many nonverbal messages such as confidence, nervousness and dominance level. For instance, if your handshake style is too strong of a grip, others judge you as being overly aggressive, insensitive, and controlling. Conversely, if you have a weak or frail handshake style, you are perceived as a person who is easily intimidated and too wishy-washy.

Experts are of the opinion that when you meet people, give them a strong, full and firm hand shake. This initial physical first impression can often make or break a sale for you. When people feel your hand, they measure your character. When your handshake is strong they assume you have good character and by extension represent a good product or service. A limp, weak or cold fish handshake suggests you are dealing with an incompetent and unreliable person.

A systematic research conducted by William F Chaplin and his team from the University of Alabama[ii]  has concluded that given the potency of first impressions, it might be a good idea to heed the recommendations of experts on handshaking etiquette and try to make that first handshake a firm one.

2. Slouching:

Slouching gives the appearance that you’re disinterested, bored and you’d rather be somewhere else. It shows that you’re not focused, or that you’re not paying attention.

Widening your stance is also equally important. When you stand with your feet close together, you can seem hesitant or unsure of what you are saying. But when you widen your stance, relax your knees and centre your weight in your lower body, you look more “solid” and confident.

Research from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that holding your body in expansive “high power” poses, for instance standing tall with shoulders pulled back, widening your stance, spreading your arms to expand into space, raises testosterone (the hormone linked to power and self-confidence) and lowers the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormonal effect is actually reversed, the researchers discovered, when you contract yourself physically, like when you hunch your shoulders, tuck your chin down, etc.. These postures that make you look defensive and lacking in confidence.

3. Eye Contact:

“Eyes are the windows to the soul “; this age-old phrase is used not without good reason. If you are making very little eye contact with your prospect or client during your meeting, then they are likely to conclude that you are distracted or simply uninterested in what they have to say. Similarly if you don’t make eye contact with them while you are speaking it can make them feel that you are being devious and dishonest about what you are saying, and they are unlikely to trust you.

In order to engage with a client and gauge their interest, we need to look them in the eye, which provides us with the opportunity to connect with them. This will establish a moment that makes a favourable impression even if we do not succeed in making a sale on this occasion.

If you want people to remember what you said long after you’re done talking, maintain good eye contact. This was the finding of a joint study [iii]between the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Stirling”. In this study, participants were put on a video call with another person. Researchers found that eye contact increased retention of what was said on the call. What’s more, this didn’t even require all that much eye contact: A mere 30% of time spent making eye contact added up to a significant increase in what participants remembered.

4. Posture:

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., a body-language expert and the author of ” The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work ,” says things like posture, angling, and eye contact can all have unintended consequences in a meeting setting. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so it’s not what you mean when you do something,” Goman says. “It’s how others are going to perceive it.” Since body language influences both likability and success, its best to ensure the same.

Since posture is an important aspect of body language, the way you carry yourself is important. It is therefore advisable to keep your posture open. Your arms should be loose, your shoulders back, and chest open to appear as powerful and open as possible.

People who maintain a good posture and powerful body language are perceived more positively than people with weak body language.

5. Facial Expressions:

Your facial expressions can make or break you. It is widely known that people make decisions about whether or not to work with you based on how you make them feel when they are around you. Paying close attention to your facial expressions will help you start to attract people, instead of keeping them at at bay. It takes people to get a job done, so it’s best to surround yourself with people that want to help you.

Facial expressions are not only communicated by what your eyes portray but also in the way your mouth moves when you talk. When you talk, make sure your lips are relaxed (not gritting), and you have a slight smile. That will show you are positive about the information you are giving, and you’re pleased to be able to share your experience and knowledge with the prospect.

 6. Matching and Mirroring:

Mirroring can be a powerful tool in sales because it can subconsciously lead your prospect into believing that you both have a lot in common, or that you’d make a great friend because you’re so much like him. By reflecting the same gestures, postures and movements as your client, will help him feel comfortable and at ease during your meeting.

Mirroring is a technique used by sales professionals to quickly build rapport with their prospects. Having said that, it is extremely important to be subtle. There is a thin line between mirroring and mimicking, and nobody likes to be mimicked. Mirroring only works if the prospect doesn’t realize what you’re doing and that you’re doing it on purpose. If a prospect does pick up on what you’re doing, he may think you’re mocking him. especially if you zoom in on something that’s particularly unique to him, such as the way he speaks certain words or his gestures. Over mirroring can be insulting and is sure to offend your prospect.

This isn’t to say that you can’t or shouldn’t seize on clues, particularly if you can do so before actually meeting with your prospect face to face. The idea is to make the other person feel at ease in your presence and show that you are involved, interested and focused on them. By mastering the art of matching and mirroring your prospects’ and clients’ body language during your sales interactions, you are sure to find your future presentations much more successful.


Etiquette and body language are important and this is especially true in sales. Any time you’re in a face-to-face meeting with a prospect, your body language is crucial. What you say is just as important as how you say it, and how you look when you say it. Don’t let your body language mistakes derail a sales meeting or distract from your messages. When properly used, body language can be your key to greater success.


  1. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01750.x?ssource=mfc&rss=1
  2. https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/psp791110.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081035