Outta Sight

Body Talk

It's not news that nonverbal communication sometimes speaks louder than the verbal variety. But did you ever stop to wonder if watching your customers' body language could help you make a sale? Mohamed Elmanjra, president of motivational consulting firm M.E. International Consultants Inc. in Montreal, believes it could. He suggests the following hints:

If your customer turns his head or body away, this is a sign that you need to engage him. Try to get him to verbalize his objections so you can tackle them.

A change in facial expression could signify intense interest or disinterest. Watch for changes, and address them as they arise.

When a customer reaches for an object on the counter, don't pounce--give her a chance to contemplate the purchase. If you're conversing, keep it slow enough to let her make up her mind.

If your customer points his finger or uses hand gestures when speaking, the subject is important to him; pay particular attention to what he's saying.

Open hands show a desire for more information.

Is your customer nodding her head in agreement? Time to close the sale.

Arms folded in front of your customer's chest could signify disinterest--or could be a challenge to prove your product's worth.

If a customer's gaze wanders, pick up the pace. Wide-open eyes often signify understanding; dilated pupils are a good sign, while pupils that decrease in size may mean you need to be more persuasive.

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This article was originally published in the October 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Outta Sight.

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