Reading Microexpressions A Key To Sales?

In a word…yes.  We spend a fair amount of time working with salespeople to access their empathy and read the prospect in a qualifying situation.  This ability is one of the keys to all successful selling.  This article from Harvard Business Review provides a thorough breakdown of this topic.  A first pull quote from the article:

In my work as a body language researcher and instructor, I’ve long theorized that one of the key differences between exceptional negotiators or salespeople and those who are merely average is the ability to read these microexpressions, gauge visceral reactions to ideas or proposals, then strategically steer them toward a preferred outcome.

And why does this matter in sales?  To put it in gambling terms, exceptional salespeople can read the “tells” on a prospect’s face while qualifying them.  This ability is one of the reasons we measure a salesperson’s empathetic aptitudes with our assessments.

Prospects almost instinctively raise their guard when dealing with a salesperson.  This guarded behavior becomes even more potent during a face-to-face sales meeting.  However, there are some tells that are difficult, if not impossible, to hide.  An astute salesperson, with strong people-reading abilities, will be able to pick up on the subtle signals being broadcast by the prospect.

Back to the HBR article and this interesting compilation of somewhat subtle tells:

microexpression-collage-2-1200x675

It seems easy to me to sit here and study the nuances of the faces to confirm the description listed below each one.  However, is a sales situation, this microexpression may be briefly displayed.  The salesperson has only a small fraction of time to deduce the prospect’s reaction.

From the article (emphasis mine):

As you can see, it’s quite easy to recognize the meaning behind the expression on a still photo. In a real-life situation, however, when the stakes are high and the microexpression  lasts for as little as one 25th of a second, it’s a different game entirely.

Exactly.  This is why strong salespeople possess the interpersonal skills and aptitudes to read these quick expressions.  You can assess for this ability using our tools.  How would this ability impact your sales team as you grow in the future?

Reading The Boss’ Body Language

What the Boss’ Body Language Says is from Yahoo Hot Jobs and is well worth the read.  I’m a sucker for these tells, to use poker parlance.

A quick taste from the short article:

Eyes, Head, and Face

Positive:

  • Looks you directly in the eye.
  • Muscles around the eye are relaxed.
  • Facial muscles are relaxed. Lips are their normal size.
  • Pleasant face and friendly smile.

Negative:

  • Rapid eye movement, does not look at you; has a cold, glaring, staring, or glazed-over look.
  • Blinks more than normal.
  • Raises one eyebrow as if in disbelief or doubt.
  • Facial muscles are tight; lips thin out.
  • Jaw muscles and clenched, and temple or neck veins throb.
  • Smile is stiff and forced.

Blinking is a good giveaway especially in conjunction with darting eyes.  Of course, you do not need advanced empathetic aptitudes to understand the negative nature of throbbing neck veins.  Or bright red faces.  Or clenched jaws.

I have worked for managers who simply told me to my face, in loud words, their negative disposition towards me.  Body language interpretation was not needed for those individuals.