Walking away from business?

The ability to work out what is really happening with a person and your interaction with them is actually quite simple.

In the third of these studies, we’re touching on a few signs and indicators that will help you to make client and prospect interaction work to your advantage.  Read people and you will be able to gauge how they are understanding your proposition and your likely chances of success. Then, when to stop in your normal routine, to recognise and tackle objections from non-verbal signs, and when to close.

Nonverbal communication, just like words, is a means of transmitting information. It’s achieved through facial expressions, gestures, touching (haptics), physical movements (kinesics) and posture. Combine that with speech, tone, acoustics-phonetics and voice volume to gain the full picture.

Lies, damned lies! Is your client being truthful with you?  Psychologists tell us that the less dependable lies are words because they can be rehearsed. The most reliable clues to lying are those made by gestures people make automatically because they have little or no control over them. For example, when we see, speak and hear lies or deceit, we often react by covering our mouth, eyes or ears with our hands.

If you’re still not convinced, it’s a fact that the Police and higher authorities use these techniques all the time. Being able to decipher lies from the truth is how their training and experience gets best results. When they ‘trap’ a suspect under questioning, attitudes, body language and comfort levels change and generally, reveal the flaw in the suspect’s story.

When people hear bad news or witness an accident, they will often cover their entire face with their hands to symbolically stop themselves from seeing or hearing awful news. But hand to mouth gestures can mean holding back information. When someone puts their fingers across their eyes, it need not indicate they are tired, more that they are not convinced of your argument and that they’re frustrated; they need to look away from you.

Understanding how the limbic system’s freeze, fight or flight responses influence nonverbal behaviour is only part of the equation. How we feel challenged, perhaps threatened and how we should react will make the difference between success and failure in a sales (or any) situation.

In general, when the limbic brain is in a state of comfort this is reflected in non-verbal displays of contentment and high confidence. While your prospect is clearly in this state, things are going well. But how many times have our proposals fizzled out, our prospects haven’t bought from us and we ‘didn’t see it coming?’ So, learning to detect false or misleading cues is critical.

Clustering. It would be misguided to believe that just one gesture from someone is an indicator. You need to read body language in clusters. For example, scratching the head can mean uncertainty but it can also mean annoyance, exasperation or…dandruff.

The perceptive person can read body language in ‘sentences’ and accurately match them against the person’s verbal responses. That’s where subtlety comes in. If your prospect sees that you’re reading him, he may react very strangely, feeling threatened and resorting to near animal freeze, fight or flight instincts. (After all, no one likes to feel a mug).

The clever money is on being able to watch, interpret and turn body language and words and into a winning proposition.

Ignore the signs and you be leaving the deal on the table – none the wiser.

How perceptive are you?

When we say that someone is perceptive or intuitive we are unknowingly referring to their ability to read another person’s body language and to compare these cues with verbal signals. We often get a hunch or a ‘gut feeling’ that someone has not quite told the truth, that their body language and the spoken word don’t agree. Looking out for these signs and signals will help you to understand your chances of success in business…and of course, in romance, too. But let’s stick to business!

Here’s a few examples.

If you were talking to a few people or even a roomful and they were all looking downwards with their arms crossed, what would that tell you? To succeed, you’d have to change your strategy, I think you’ll agree. You must read the room and not your script which is entirely useless if you haven’t captured attention. (Article later).

If you’re pitching to women remember, they are far more perceptive than most men – though gay men are said to be perceptive, too. It’s proven time and again. Research by Harvard University psychologists show that women are far more alert to body language than men.

Sorry guys, but there’s this thing called ‘women’s intuition’. Women have an innate ability to pick up and decipher non-verbal signals, as well as having an accurate eye for small details. This is why few men can lie to their partners/wives and get away with it and why most women can pull the wool over a man’s eyes without his realising it. Awkward, but true!

The shoulder shrug (especially in France) is a good example that someone either doesn’t care or they don’t understand you. It shows three things. That there’s nothing being concealed in the hands, then hunched shoulders to protect the throat from attack, and raised brows, considered universally as being submissive.

Open palms – in olden times, open palms and hand-shaking were gestures used to demonstrate that no weapons were being carried. Children particularly do the same instinctively to demonstrate their innocence, just as they will hide their hands behind their backs to be defensive. A dog will expose its throat to show submission or surrender; humans show their palms.  Most people find it difficult to lie with palms open.

Hands clenched – shows frustration. It shows a restrained, anxious or negative attitude.

Fingertips touching in a steeple – demonstrates superiority or confidence with the answers. That may develop into hands together in a prayer-like attitude. Also, it suggests confidence or ‘winning’.

Your hands are always in front of you when you’re with a client. It’s a good idea to use gestures sparingly, slowly, so as not to startle and therefore, effectively.

Constantly looking for signals – People born blind nod and shake their heads; it’s clearly nothing they follow from others. It’s generally not something we use for effect; it’s far more natural than that. The head shaking from side to side emanates from breastfeeding and from baby years of refusing food they find distasteful. Therefore you must still be holding the attention of a client who is nodding and looking relaxed. That could be the time to try your closing questions – So, if I …would you?’ or ‘When would be a good time to start?’

Try this:  set aside time as often as you can to people watch. On trains, in restaurants, hotels, and while you’re waiting for someone, especially if you’re alone it’s never a waste of time to watch the mannerisms and affectations of couples or groups. See how they interact: the listeners from the chatters, the over-ebullient to those who use their arms and bodies to create effect.

If you think this is all baloney, the next time a supplier comes to see you, especially if you really have no need at all for his product or service, give him some time and watch him as he struggles to get through. Would his gestures intensify as he scrapes the barrel of his argument? What do you think?

Ps It’s not clever to mirror someone’s gestures. Many people will see straight through that kind of sycophantic gesturing. But, you cannot be at polar opposites with gestures or that really will show.


It’s not what you say …

When you’re ‘out there’ meeting prospects for business, first impressions are vital. Everyone is busy and snap judgements will make the difference to the time you’re given to pitch. Many will be trying to dispense with you as soon as they can. It’s not your ‘right’ to take a prospect’s time, so all the verbal and non-verbal signals you make have to ‘get through’, I’m sure you agree.

Last week we looked at how humour works in the sales process and shows you as a real person, fun to deal with and that you’re right for them.

The next steps are to continue to project a consistent and confident approach, compatible with those smiling and friendly traits. Well, ask yourself, would you really want to do business with someone that you don’t like, feel he’s not trustworthy and will be hard work?

We’re going to offer a few tips from leaders in psychology that are not aimed at misleading or tricking you or your clients or prospects, but they will show you in a much better light when you understand how they work.

So, let’s start with introductions: a warm and confident smile is a good start but use a whole smile with your eyes smiling as well and a relaxed and slightly open mouth. Then your handshake says a lot about you. Is it ‘just right’ – a balance between sincere and deliberate or is it limp and useless? If it’s pretty feeble, what does that say about you? If it’s too strong, even brutal, on the receiving end, would you appreciate that? Men often shake both men’s and women’s hands far too strongly. I was with one salesman who shook a female client’s hand so firmly that the ring on her right hand broke her skin. She tried to mask the fact that her finger was bleeding, but it was not a great start to a pitch!

Shaking hands is not a show of strength – which could also be considered as a will to dominate. Women are generally not as strong as men; bear that in mind when shaking hands. Practice, it really is worthwhile.

The experts seem to agree that body language is generally more powerful than words. So much can be said without using words. After all, you have probably rehearsed your lines often when it comes to meeting prospects, and those words will bounce off most people as ‘sales talk’. Words are used primarily for information whereas body language is used for negotiating interpersonal attitudes and in some cases, is used as a substitute for verbal messages. For example, a woman can give a man a ‘look to kill’, conveying a very clear message without saying a word.

The human animal is rarely aware that its postures, movements, and gestures can tell one story while its voice may be telling another.

The key to reading body language is being able to understand a person’s emotional condition while listening to what they’re saying and understanding the circumstances.

Whether you are the buyer or the seller, you are evaluating people every day. As I’ve said, people you meet for the first time are making snap judgements about you, but going forward, you must always stay on top of watching your clients with great interest. Be sure that they are comfortable with you, that you’re not missing signs that they’re wavering and losing faith in you or that they may be considering your competitors. If they aren’t happy with you their body language will reflect that and, to avoid losing business, developing these spotting techniques will help.

We’ll offer some more suggested techniques to look out for and for your own style next week. When they’re used carefully, they can make the difference.

Call us with your views.




Why is smiling and laughter important in the sales process?

To set yourself apart from your competition you really do need to be different.

Interviews and sales have a lot in common, of course. Each is a presentation of yourself to people you may not know. Why do some people succeed almost instantly in sales presentations and interviews? They make themselves different, they set themselves apart, they shine, they ask poignant questions about the prospect’s business and they know their stuff. They exude confidence and they answer questions with a bit of spark.

Interviewers are asking ‘Is this person right for me/ us?’  ‘Will she fit in?’  ‘Will he make a genuine contribution?’ ‘Is he a safe bet?’ ‘Can I be almost certain she is going to do what she says on her c.v.?’  In sales, people ask the same sort of questions but also, ‘Can I do business with this person?’ If prospects feel awkward with you, they’ll start looking for reasons not to do business with you.

Whether you’re comfortable with public speaking or not, Sales is public speaking. So, as with an interview, what do you have to do to be different and to stand out? Lots of things! But sincerity and smiling helps.

A natural smile produces characteristic wrinkles around the eyes. Insincere people only smile with their mouth. We all need to lighten up and take ourselves less seriously. Smiling is infectious and it’s a game-changer.

Showing a sense of humour does not mean stringing out a set of stage-comic gags, but using stories about you and others that will make them chuckle. Sadly, humour is often avoided in a sales meeting, but it really is an ice-breaker and sustains attention.

Adding the ‘make them laugh’ dimension is also a game-changer. Make the stories as topical and natural as you can. Laughter releases tension and shows that you are human; a Real Person with wit and one who might just be a good person to do business with. They will remember you and your story over a less animated competitor.

Laughter releases endorphins, it takes people off their guard and helps them to relax; they will listen to you more actively. Humour used sensitively is a great door-opener, it sets the stage and takes away the anticipation of routine and drabness. Generalising, Brits, Americans, and Scandinavians, enjoy humour at work. It generally doesn’t work in more formal countries in the workplace.

Of course, avoid political or sensitive subjects in case your view is widely different from theirs. Remember that self-deprecation or sounding like a clod does not help. But appeal to your clients’ sense of fun and it will single you out.

People often avoid laughter because they think it’s out of place. But in sales, used wisely, it is entirely congruent. It shows that you enjoy the fun side of work. And why should work not be fun? It shows that your serious, practical face can also be light and friendly. When you smile genuinely at someone they will generally smile back. People love to laugh in business and love doing business with sparky, bright, friendly people.

People love being entertained.

Only 15% of our laughter has to do with jokes. Laughter has more to do with bonding.

A friend’s son, at an interview in Brighton, on his c.v. had declared that he enjoys beat-boxing; to his surprise, they asked him to demonstrate it. Within seconds the interviewers were chuckling. After 3 minutes they were both laughing a lot. No one had ever done that in their interview room. He got the job.

We’ll be looking more at body language and ‘reading signs’ over the next few weeks. It really does make the difference in winning new business and sustaining relationships.


LinkedIn – Introduce yourself – Get connected

Linking with others

Yes, this can be time-consuming but worthwhile especially if you’re asking yourself – ‘Well, where are my new customers going to come from?’

We call this ‘chase the ace’.  That is, how to find and build your dream list.

Most businesses either want to expand or make fair but sustainable profit from more good clients. So start with the profile of your best clients. Where are they? In business to business, how can you find more of them? In business to consumer, what is your buyer profile? Define your niche. Then send them a message asking to link with them.  We discussed customer avatars in February: http://bit.ly/29UNeRd

We’ll be covering physical networking later, but LinkedIn can certainly help you connect with people you’ve never met before. You will be intrigued as to just how many people you know are either directly connected to the people you want to talk with – or they know somebody who does.

Please remember that the whole essence of LinkedIn (LI) is GIVE-ASK-SHARE-THANK. Most people only consider what they can draw from LI but being seen to be offering ideas and support also improves your active profile.

Go to – My Network – Connections – This is where LI can bring you together.

Scan under ‘People you may know’. You will be surprised how many you will recognise. This is all about building your lists. If you’re not sure why…. People do business with those they know, like and trust. You have to build that trust. Show you’re a real, warm-blooded, friendly and competent person.

You have your 1st connections – those you’ve invited or they’ve invited you. Then there are the 2nd connections – Click on the left-hand column – Relationship – click 2nd connections, Location – UK or any city, people you don’t know yet but may be useful to you.

Check out the Current Company list and + Add the company name you’re looking for. You’ll get a list of possibles so click on the company you’re searching for and you’ll see how many people there are in that company that your second connections are linked to. If the green text tells you have 12 shared connections, send them a message saying that you have a mutual connection/ or several (even a friend or former colleague). Introduce yourself to them, and, if they’re of interest to you, ask to see them. Or you could ask them if they could introduce you to someone?

Don’t use the bog-standard introduction text, personalise it.

Name-dropping always counts and usually works. “Sarah, we have a mutual connection in Liz Thomas, I’m trying to find her /her FD, can you please put me in touch?”  Do you think she will she say, “No and never darken my door again?”

Also, within your Connections, you will be able to say happy birthday, ‘say congrats’ on a new job, send your thoughts to others’ words of wisdom. These short prompts just show people that you’re interested enough in them to comment but it’s another ‘touch’. Do it for the right reasons but you might need them or their advice one day.


Linkedin – a powerful tool

Following last week’s blog, don’t forget that LinkedIn (LI) is entirely editable. You can always improve your professional headline: don’t make your product or service sound so obscure that you don’t show up in a search. Microsoft bought LI for the richness of the personal data and search capability and they’ll be growing that element. State your previous company roles, etc to make them more easily searchable. Name drop. Each company you’ve ever worked for; but it’s best if there are no gaps.

Your introduction: there’s a restriction on the number of words, so make it punchy. It’s not an advertisement, more a set of skills that should say ‘come and get me’, or ‘let’s talk.’

Skills and endorsements.

Be sure your skills are clearly mapped – avoid jargon. Write them for buyers and searchers.

Tick the boxes for ‘I want to be endorsed’ and endorse others – it offers you the chance to demonstrate in large numbers, that people acknowledge and endorse your skills.

Build your endorsement list over time and aim for 99+ in the three key areas of your expertise.

Also, click the notifications button to see when people endorse you, and make a point of thanking them. Something simple like “Hey, thanks for the endorsement. It’s appreciated.” They may be a prospective client, after all.

Recommendations – we’ve already looked at Testimonials, but this is different.

On LI, you ask people for a Testimonial – in the way we suggest in our blog. Ask them to submit their testimonial for you through the LI gateway. LI will prompt you to view it. If you don’t like it, suggest they tweak it with the words you give them, they’ll make their changes, then agree it with the tick box on LI and it will be loaded.

As it’s prompted by LI, it shows it really is a legitimate testimonial and you couldn’t have made it up. Think about how you can reciprocate for others, too. Every little helps to build up your profile and authenticity.

You need at least half a dozen testimonials on your LI pages, preferably 1-2 for each job you’ve done.

Ask previous bosses and then get the testimonials loaded to your profile. Look for some diversity: What you brought to the party, not just that you were ‘good at your job’ type clichés.

Scroll down the fields, complete all boxes about your education and interests and join niche groups that interest you.

There’s often a pop-up that says “Notify your Network?” – use that if you change your company name, or your profile changes. Then everyone you’re linked with will get a LI email telling them of your changes.

If you’re looking to contact all your contacts:

Go to: ‘All contacts’ – ‘search by name’. Or hover over their name in the filter and you can tag them as former colleagues, partners, etc or send them a message to link to them. Stay in touch with all those who can help you best. Acknowledge their birthday when prompted. It all helps to gain traction.

And now, here’s the clever bit. Go to My Network, then to Connection.

Sync your Connections to gmail, google contacts and calendar. Then checkout, under Advanced Settings, ‘Export Linkedin Connections’. Export to Microsoft Outlook (CSV file). That will produce a folder in Excel at the bottom of your screen of all your LinkedIn contacts… along with their real email address, not a holding address. As I said, it’s a cyber c.v. so people only use their proper email address.

That then gives you another right-up-to-date mailing list for your e-mail campaigns. You’re linked to them by mutual agreement – it’s unlikely they’ll unsubscribe you from your email to them.

If you are not sending email campaigns to your contacts why ever not? It is a wonderful way to reinforce your brand and keep contacts thinking about you. Talk to us if you need help.

New to Social Media? Start with LinkedIn!

You know a product or service has real value when a big hitter buys it for billions.

Google bought YouTube after YouTube had only been around for less than two years. On June 13th, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion. At very least that endorses that Microsoft recognises that LinkedIn is a very powerful connection tool. MS now knows how to find and connect with 433 million people!

The question is often asked, ‘Do I really need to bother with LinkedIn, Facebook for business or Twitter?  Which one is the most powerful?’

One thing for sure is that LinkedIn (LI) I is a cyber c.v. – Everyone uses it as a cv for search. All recruitment companies check out LinkedIn before anything else, and your prospects may well be using it to check you out, to see if you’re a real person, to check your skill set, understand what sort of person you are, what you look like and to hear what others say about you.

So make sure it looks professional – that is, no quirky pictures of you in a restaurant. Show yourself in the light that you need. You don’t need to be too formal, but fill the picture of yourself with 95% face, facing slightly to the right onto the page. A professional photographer shot may be worthwhile. (Light and shade, etc)

What is LI used for?

  • First and foremost, it’s a tool where people can found out more about you.
  • It’s a shop window for your skills, your education, roots, career to date and your background.
  • It hooks you to people in your genre, your interest areas. Once you’ve asked them to link with you, and they agree, you will have access to their contact details – email address, business address, and phone number. As they have agreed see it as a bonus to your marketing as effectively they have given you permission to call them or write to them.
  • LinkedIn gives you the chance to add documents, photos, links, videos and presentations.to landing pages on your website or ‘Squeeze pages.’

This is a business tool, not a social tool. It’s not a chat room. You can issue articles and gain interest from others about what you’re writing about in your industry. But start by commenting on what they are talking about to get you into the swing.

So how do you get started?

Sign up for a free account. (Yes, there’s always the premium version, but don’t worry about that for now).

As you hover over the profile it will indicate how you should edit your name, etc. But the title you give yourself, your ‘professional headline’ is critical. In as few words as possible define exactly what you do. (There’s a word limit). When you’ve made your first attempt, click on the text and it will show how others in your industry have defined their role. Why is this important?  For Search Engine reasons. You need to be found from the mass of 433 million other profiles.

Apart from contact information, the Summary is also your chance to tell your story. There is a word limit so make sure your skills and key selling points are noted. You can add documents, photos, links, videos and presentations to show off your product in as many forms as possible. Let those looking at your profile see for themselves your work in several forms.

Next week we’ll look at getting the best from the other LinkedIn tools.