It’s essential to have a strong pitch. But even before you say a word, you’re already sending signals that can make or break a sale. Though often unconscious, our body language can do everything from relaxing a customer to driving them off the lot, all before we open our mouths.

This is why dealers should pay close attention to what nonverbal cues they’re sending, adjusting them as part of their sales strategy. Sales teams are reminded to smile, shake hands and be cognizant of personal space. Here are three don’ts of body language in sales, along with ways to correct them.

Avoiding Eye Contact

While custom is different from country to country, in the US eye contact it the norm. Avoiding eye contact signals to customers that you may have something to hide, are uncomfortable, or are disinterested. Whichever the case, all three can be fatal to sales.

Of course, too much eye contact can be equally uncomfortable–for the customer. No one wants to feel as though they are being studied.

The Solution: The trick is to make the customer feel that they matter, without making them feel uncomfortable. Try to maintain eye contact 70% to 80% of the time, glancing around your environment every so often.

Defensive Stancebody language

What to do with our hands? Without realizing it, many people take a defensive stance, with arms crossed over their chests. This closed stance can be read as cold, unwelcoming, or aggressive; not exactly the image most dealers want to project.

The Solution: Start by giving your customer a firm handshake. Follow that up by using your hands to gesture every so often as you talk. Make sure that even if you’re crossing your arms because it’s a cold day out on the lot that your facial expression is upbeat, so your crossed arms aren’t misinterpreted.

Bonus Tip: Often, we mirror one another’s body language. Many salespeople have heard that it helps to copy the gestures customers make, as it helps them feel connected. Another way mirroring can be used it so relax a customer: if they’re the ones crossing their arms, make sure you don’t copy them. Instead, consciously signal relaxed body postures and expressions that they can unconsciously mirror.

Poor Posture

Your first impression is often made through posture. Slouching or hanging your head while standing can make you appear disinterested, irritated, or weary. Seated at a desk, bad posture can do all those, or create an overall unprofessional impression.

The Solution: When approaching a customer, even if you’re not feeling great, think happy thoughts. Focusing on a positive thought or idea can help lift your entire posture, so you radiate interest. Stand straight and walk with confidence; remind yourself that someone is coming to you for help because they know you’re qualified to help them.

If your meeting is at a desk, make sure to stand and come forward to greet the customer, and then sit up straight, without slouching. Every so often, lean slightly forward to further show interest in what the customer has to say.

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