Sometimes successfully closing a sale comes down to slight advantage.

One of the overlooked aspects of selling is communication, specifically nonverbal communication.  I get the chance to discuss this topic with salespeople often…and often it is overlooked.  This article provides a good reinforcement to nonverbal communication’s importance.

Consider this fact:

…there are three elements that account for how well we receive someone’s message and they impact us differently:

  • 7 percent words

  • 38 percent tone of voice

  • 55 percent body language

I’ve read articles recently that bring up these topics in different forums.  Smile while you record your voicemail greeting, tell your story to your prospects to connect on a personal level and measure your breathing when talking.  The focus of most salespeople is words, but there is this larger opportunity to gain an edge using the nonverbal channels.

There are 4 items in the article that the author recommends to improve your sales effectiveness.

  1. Fix your posture.
  2. Use hand gestures.
  3. Focus on facial expressions.
  4. Speak clearly.

I agree with all of them – this is low-hanging fruit for all salespeople.  The most important of the four suggestions is number 3 – understanding facial expressions.

From the article:

…her team found out that high-performing salespeople scored almost twice as high on the study’s metrics on reading facial expressions compared to low performers.

This ability is measured in our assessments.  Empathetic Outlook is the ability to read other’s expressions, to understand what their emotional state is without words.  This ability is critical for successful selling even in phone-based positions.  The importance of this ability cannot be overstated.  Salespeople without this ability have a tin ear, sometimes robotic approach to prospecting and qualifying.  In the worst case, they come across as cocky.

The tools we use help you know a salesperson’s ability in these nonverbal skills.

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I’ve been assessing salespeople since 2001 which, as you can imagine, has provided some unique experiences.  These experiences have revealed some odd factors that seem to be supportive of sales success.  The oddity is that there seems to be a yin and a yang to abilities…a give and a take.  Here are just a few:

Fearlessness vs. Compliance
This oddity might be the most common.  There is a component to successful selling that involves a fearlessness to adroitly ask difficult questions to qualify prospects.  Many (most) people are uncomfortable asking these questions.

For instance, it is “impolite to discuss money” is one of our social mores.  However, you will not get far in your sales career if you are incapable of accurately qualifying the prospect’s budget.  This ability requires a fearless attitude.

The other side of this coin is compliance which is oddly infrequent among most salespeople.  Sales leaders need a certain level of compliance to maintain some semblance of order within a freewheeling sales department.  Good luck.

My experience has found that most salespeople are noncompliant and I think there is a specific reason.  Compliant styles like to plan a predictive sales call.  They like to almost script the call with expected questions and well-constructed answers…then the call happens.  The compliant salesperson begins the call/meeting based on their anticipated script and the prospect makes a 90 degree turn and the script blows up.  Low compliance, high fearlessness is an advantage to sales success as they are freer to move with the prospect no matter which direction they go.

I’ve encountered other oddities along my assessment travels – I will share those in the near future.