The Selling Newsletter
The Selling Quote for the Month“Advertising is not believable.” M. Steven Ells, Chipotle’s founder and chief executive Chipotle, the Denver-based fast-food restaurant chain spends on advertising in one year what McDonald’s spends in 48 hours. Without advertising clout are you wondering how Chipotle has gotten to be so successful? It’s word of mouth. And it works. Chipotle is one of the hottest properties in the restaurant industry. Same-store sales jumped 13.7% in 2006, its ninth straight year of double-digit increases. What’s that have to do with your selling? Are you using word of mouth to sell? You can and it will make your selling a whole lot easier. It will also make your claims more believable. After every satisfied customer, you should be asking how your work or product has impacted their business, team or customers. Then listen—and take notes. After you hear the wonderful comments about your work, ask your customer if you could write what you heard and send it back for any editing. Then ask your customer to put this letter on their letterhead. You now have a referral letter that’s useful for selling. And unlike your advertising, your referral letter which is on your customer’s letter head, is believable.
Your Monthly Selling Idea
Can you hear me now?
What happens when you get a weak signal on your cell phone? You miss the message. What happens in a sales call when your nonverbal communication skills are weak? You miss the message, or even worse—you miss the sale. Here’s how you can use nonverbal communication or body language to improve your selling.
Start off positive. Jan Hargrave (www.janhargrave.com) is an international body language expert and author of several books on the subject. Her work includes consulting for the media on the body language of political and public figures. Those figures have included Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton.
Using body language to sell starts by sending positive messages to your customers. Hargrave recommends having a firm handshake because this shows confidence. She suggests that you keep your hands palms up when you’re presenting and bring them to your body. You’re showing customers that you want to bring them in. If you’re presenting to more than one person, be sure to make eye contact with each of them to show interest.
When you conclude, you’ll have more power if you take your right hand with an open palm and bring it close to your chest. You’re saying, “I hope you enjoyed the presentation” while showing honesty and sincerity. As you shake hands when you leave, you can take the time to touch your customer with your non-shaking hand on his forearm. Pause and look him in the eye. It’s a chance to make another connection with your customer.
Turn the beat around. To use body language effectively she states that salespeople must be proficient in presenting their selling message while reading their customers’ body language. What you’re looking for are both positive and negative signals from your customer. You need to include the gesture and what comes before the gesture.
Hargrave says, “Body language is like words in a sentence. Words don’t come by themselves.” Some of the positive signals that salespeople want to see are signs of interest. These could be uncrossing arms, unbuttoning a jacket, tilting a shoulder, body leaning forward, eye contact with sales materials or you. These are all signals of openness. Even crossed legs are open if they’re pointed towards you.
But, suppose you see negative body language like a head that is straight up and down instead of being tilted, crossed arms, pencil tapping, half-turned body away from you, or glancing at a watch? You’ve got to stop selling and turn the negatives into a positive. Hargrave says, “Hand the customer something to look at. They have to reach their arms out away from their body to receive the material. That stretch opens them up.” She cites research that shows that the more open the upper body is, the more receptive the person is to take in your information. Another strategy would be to ask your customers a question. Hargrave says, “Ask them what they think. When they start talking they will tell you what their concerns are so you can clarify them. That might eliminate the concerns.”
Avoid creating your own negative body language. Hargrave suggests wearing comfortable clothes so you avoid touching your body. The more you touch your body, your hair, jingling change, or fixing your tie, you are sending a message of uncertainty. She cautions to never bring your hand to the left side of your face since that’s associated with lying.
Practice makes perfect. What if you’re not very good at noticing body language? Hargrave says you can practice to improve your interpretive skills. One way is to watch people on television interview shows. Turn the sound off and try to figure out the attitude of the speakers or what they’re saying. You can also practice by being a people watcher at airports or other public places. She also suggests paying attention to timing of the body language. When you talk is when you incorporate the gesture into your communication. She cited one politician who used the nonverbal gesture after he finished speaking. He lost the race. If he wanted to appear knowledgeable, the time to steeple his hands (putting fingers of both hands upright and together) was during his speaking, not after he finished.
When you have strong body language skills you’ll get more from communication. So will your customers. They will hear you now even better than before.
1. Watch an interview show to practice reading nonverbal communication.
2. Set some goals for your nonverbal communication for an upcoming sales call.
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Written by Maura Schreier-Fleming, Best@Selling( BestatSelling.com.) Maura Works with business and sales professionals who want to sell more and be more productive at work. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results.
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Maura Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales professionals to make it easier to sell more and be more productive at work. Her clients include Fujitsu, Fannie Mae and Dr Pepper/7UP.
With over 20 years of sales experience, she teaches the art and science of selling with a unique hands-on perspective and a great deal of real-life insight. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results (a book filled with ideas to make selling easier and more productive.)
Her business column ‘Selling Strategies’ appears in the Insurance Record magazine and her column ‘Street Talk’ appears in Jobbers World. Maura has an M.S. in Textile Engineering from Georgia Tech and was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S.
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