How Salespeople Build Rapport Using Body Language

Written by Sean McPheat |

2 February, 2017

Understanding body language is an important skill for salespeople to learn.

However, it is important that we understand some key concepts first:

Look for more than one sign.

Try this for example.

Cross your arms.

It feels good doesn’t it?

You are hugging yourself.

Yet, if you read books on body language they will tell you that this is a negative signal that is being sent out.

You have closed down your body language and are being defensive.

We have to link verbal and non-verbal signals to understand the real message that is being sent out.

If I have my arms crossed and, at the same time I am saying what a great time I had at the match last night I am being positive.

If I look worried and am describing a service problem that I recently experienced then I am feeling negative.

Look for more than one clue.

Look for clusters of body language.

Look for changes in body language.

I attended a presentation recently and at one point members of the audience leant forward and started to make notes.

This told me that the presenter had just said something of interest, but he missed it and continued with the presentation.

I would have asked a few questions if I had been him.

Some of my top tips to help you look and sound more confident:

Eye contact.

Make positive eye contact when communicating.

Don’t stare but make regular contact.

This says you are confident.

Body posture.

Stand up straight and face the other person.


Look as if you are enjoying yourself

Personal space.

Different cultures tolerate different personal spaces.

For example, some cultures are very expressive when it comes to physical touch.

Think about Italy where a big hug and kiss on each cheek is considered a common and acceptable greeting, and then compare it to Japan where a proper greeting consists of a respectful bow and no touch at all.

Slow down a bit.

This goes for many things.

Walking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, it will also make you feel less stressed.

Talk a bit more slowly too.

It makes you seem more thoughtful and intelligent.

Respond to what is being said.

Use non-verbal listening techniques; smiling, nodding, changing your facial expression to demonstrate that you are listening.

Try not to interrupt.

This is irritating and makes you appear less confident.

Match, or mirror their changes in body language.

When we feel comfortable in a group we match, or mirror the body language of others without thinking.

This can be done proactively to build rapport.

Avoid negative signals.

We all know when the person we are talking to is in a rush or late for a meeting.

Looking at their watch, pointing their body towards the exit and looking frustrated.

Dress for success.

Yes, it is a cliché but how you look determines how people respond to you.

Invest in quality business clothes and take care of your appearance.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)