Why Is Body Language Important In Sales?

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

man sleep in office
This blog post has a dual purpose. Not only will it help you in making sure that your own body language is on point, but it will also help you to read the body language of your prospects and customers more effectively as well. Don’t underestimate the power of body language. You can say exactly the right thing at the right time but if you’re body language is not congruent with your message then you’ll give off completely the wrong signals to your buyer. This can magnify when you ask for the sale and for some money!

Even if you’re not aware of your body language, other people will be. The signals you give unconsciously may affect the other person unconsciously too, and if they are negative signals, it could affect the process of communications without either of you understanding why. Therefore, it’s so important to be totally aware of what your body is saying, especially when carrying out a sale.

You don’t want to come away from an interaction having failed to secure commitment, with the true cause being the inability to establish rapport or the poor messages coming from body signals.

What Is Body Language?

According to Wikipedia, “Body language helps to establish the relationship between two people and regulates interaction but can be ambiguous. Hence, it is crucial to accurately read body language to avoid misunderstanding in interactions.”

You will have read or heard about what some signals may mean, but you must be accurate in your assessment, as it should be considered as a ‘language’ and not just a few words in a sentence chosen at random. Therefore, it’s important to be totally congruent in the messages you give when exhibiting body language and those techniques can be learned from our Selling Skills Training Courses.

Why Is Body Language Important?

As a salesperson it’s not always what you say that clinches or loses the deal, but how you say it. If you say one thing and give another message with your body, people will ALWAYS believe your body language over your words. And it gets worse, not only will they believe your body language – they will also assume that they know what it means.

If your words and body language aren’t congruent your buyers won’t trust you; If you show that you are nervous your buyers won’t trust you. If you aren’t sure of yourself, they won’t be sure of you. You need to be physically and mentally confident for them to have confidence in you.

The easiest way to get your body language to match what you are saying and therefore, get your buyer to believe what you say is to sell something you really believe in, to know your product, know it is a good deal. Your job is to convey this honestly and match the right product with the right person. If you believe in what you are selling, there is a good chance that your potential customers will too. Faking body language is an art that you probably don’t have time to perfect unless you are a scam artist. If you don’t feel sure about selling something, don’t do it.

Where learning about your body does help is for salespeople who are sure of their product, sure it’s a good deal, sure they are selling for to the right person or company but aren’t sure of their own ability as a salesperson. They tend to get uneasy about closing a deal, or talking about money, and their body language shows this uneasiness, and it is perceived as doubt in the sale.

woman crying

How To Fix Your Body Language

Our Sales Training Courses cover body language in detail include tonality but here are some ideas that will help you to fix your body language in your sales encounters.

Display Confidence In The Way You Portray Yourself

Slouching gives an impression of tiredness and world-weariness. Standing up straight, leaning slightly forward and having your shoulders back will make you look more confident and attractive. Relax your shoulders so you don’t seem tense.

Establish Rapport With Others

Match the speed you are speaking to others in the room. If you speak too fast, the other person will feel pressured. Too slow, and they will think you are lazy or talking down to them. You should also make sure to nod occasionally as you listen to someone else.

Be In Control Of Your Emotions

If your hands are up and you’re rubbing them together, you are obviously excited. If they are clenched and together, you are frustrated or nervous. Keep your hands in front of you or on the side and relaxed, with fingers together. This will demonstrate that you are in charge of your emotions and maintaining control especially when overcoming those sales objections where things can get emotional and uncomfortable.

Put Yourself On Equal Footing

Handshakes can make or break rapport. If you apply too much pressure, you are perceived as domineering or ignorant, but if you are too weak, people will think you have no self-confidence. You want to aim to mirror the other person’s handshake, which will put you both on the same level.

Be Aware Of Face-Touching

Many people get a sub-conscious feeling when another’s hand comes to their face, scratching a non-existent itch or rubbing the eye. It normally is considered as a cover-up to a lie, so be aware of what you’re doing with your hands

Have A Considered Amount Of Eye Contact

The most contact we have as humans is through our eyes. But make sure that you have the right amount. I had a salesperson once who would stare so intently, it put people off, as they felt pressured. But too little eye contact can make you look unconfident and shifty especially if you are asking lots of probing sales questions. Try to maintain eye contact for around 70-80% of the time, so it gives your buyer a feeling of confidence and relaxing in the knowledge that you are (at least in the eye-contact area) being open and honest.

The interesting thing with eye contact is that I hardly ever blink. I must be so careful when meeting people for the first time because it can be quite off putting for them.

Ensure Your Arms Are Congruent With Your Message

This means being aware of the openness you are displaying with your arms. They can act as a barrier on occasions, making the other person feel you are concealing something. Being too open, waving them about, can be too distracting and make the other person concentrate too much on that and the meaning behind it, rather than listening to your message.

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Reading Body Language In Sales

There are many different types of selling but the key to displaying good body language in sales is two-fold no matter what face to face encounter it might be.

Firstly, it must match and enhance the message you are portraying to the other person and secondly, the other person shouldn’t be distracted by it. Remember, then, that your body language, the non-verbal messages you send subconsciously, can have a profound effect on the way the other person believes in your sales message and the same can be said when reading the body language of your buyers.

Positive Body Language

Eye Contact

If your buyer is keeping good eye contact with you then chances are they are still interested and are not distracted. Same goes for the “Roger Moore Like” eyebrow raise. If this happens think about what you just said – good or bad!

Smiling & Nodding

Generally, this is a good thing.


Be aware if your buyer leans forwards or backwards and what was said when they did that.


Are they sat up or slouched?

Negative Body Language


Look for tension in your buyer’s face. Their eyes may narrow and their lips purse.


Are their fingers tapping the desk? Are they drumming? Playing with something? All of these signs could demonstrate boredom or impatience. If they start pointing this could be an intimidation tactic.


When they sit, do they sit directly opposite you and full on. A little to the side? Or completely to the side? Are they open or closed with their posture and does this change?


Yes, their feet can be a giveaway! If they are tapping away like an Irish jig then they could be bored, frustrated, or indeed excited based on what is being said.

Be careful in the body language signals that you are giving off when in a face-to-face encounter. Don’t forget, virtual selling is included in this as well. It doesn’t just apply to physical encounters in the flesh.

If you’d like some additional support in improving your body language then please check out our Sales Presentations Training which is focused on formal pitches and virtual presentations. Also, our Retail Sales Training will equip you with the skills you need to manage your body language when you are selling in a store.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Updated on: 6 December, 2021

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