June 11, 2013


Much has been written about the best things to say to close sales. Plenty of that advice is solid and works just fine, so I recommend that salespeople study as much as possible in order to learn new techniques for improving their results.

Of equal or greater importance in closing sales is knowing how to recognize the non-verbal cues manifested by prospects when selling them. These are the “tells” in poker parlance — those little things buyers do, often unconsciously, which help a salesperson know if the prospect is hesitant or ready to buy.

The good news is that most of us are good at reading the obvious signs, such as a frown, folded arms, or a big smile accompanied by wide open eyes. The bad news, as explained by Dr. Robert Gifford in a New York Times article, is that we are not so good as interpreting the more subtle cues, which are often the true indicator of the prospects feelings.

Here are some of these not-so-obvious cues. Knowing to recognize them and what they mean can help close the sale.

Touching the Face

When a buyer touches her face while speaking, particularly the nose, it may indicate that she is being deceptive. If your buyer is nodding, yet has one arm folded across her body while the other hand is rubbing her nose or temple, she could be making an empty promise just to get rid of you — so trying to close her and get a solid, written commitment might be an exercise is futility.

Instead, try to clarify concerns brought up during the meeting which might still be lingering. A test close, such as “How does this seem to you now?” can bring things to light.

Feet Pointed Toward the Door

As an article in Entrepreneur informs, when a prospect points his feet at the door, he is ready to leave. If he is across a desk and you cannot see his feet, you can get a clue by whether he subtly turns his body in the direction of the exit and looks toward it.

Ask questions to try to reengage the prospect before trying to close the sale, and try to do more listening than talking at this point. People rarely get bored when talking about themselves.

The Buyer’s Shift

The Buyer’s Shift is a combination of body language cues which, when put together, indicate that the buyer has changed his or her point of view and decided to buy.

As an example, if your prospect has been sitting with arms folded and a gaze that moves around and rarely lands on yours, and suddenly relaxes his arms and looks you straight in the eye, that could indicate extreme interest. Leaning forward and a slow chin stroke also indicates serious consideration of a purchase, and you should ask for the order.

Human body language is a complex subject, but knowing a few basics can help the next time you try to close the sale. For further study, especially in regards to facial expressions and their meaning, check out the work of Dr. Paul Ekman. For a hands-on day   of extensive training, check out our schedule here to see when we will be in your area.