The newest member of your sales team has been working hard and networking with hiring managers on LinkedIn. It’s paid off — he’s got his first face-to-face, solo sales visit with a client whose company is expected to grow by 20 percent this year. You’re anxious to see how he does and give him some last-minute insight. Have you thought about offering advice on body language so he can make a killer first impression?
If you want the client to hear about your firm’s proven expertise in their industry or to look over your top candidates’ resumes, first impressions are critical. No matter how many emails, phone calls or text messages have been exchanged, there’s still an initial face-to-face meeting and your salesperson needs to incorporate body language to rock the interview. In fact, one study found that although we only have five seconds to make a positive first impression, if that initial impression is negative it takes an additional eight positive encounters to overcome and change that opinion.
“Once someone mentally labels you as ‘likeable’ or ‘unlikeable,’ everything else you do will be viewed through that filter,” says Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, Forbes leadership blogger and an expert on body language. “If someone likes you, she’ll look for the best in you. If she doesn’t like you or mistrusts you, she’ll suspect devious motives in all your actions.”
Because of the power of body language, you may want to include the topic within your onboarding process, which we delve into in our whitepaper, Conquering the Recruiting Sales Team Process.
Research on body language continues to grow, and for people in sales, nonverbal communication can have a big effect on success. Here is some actionable advice that sales management can offer your team so they can communicate effectively with what they say out loud — and inaudibly.
|I remember talking to a salesperson who, upon meeting a potential client, was first asked, “What makes you different from all of the other losers?” Being insulted to your face isn’t easy! But your new salesperson should stay focused and show that he’s actively listening and truly understands the client’s frustration at being unable to find quality mechanical engineers.
“Looking at someone’s eyes transmits energy and indicates interest and openness,” says Goman. “Your sales team can improve their eye contact by noticing the eye color of every person they meet.”
During sales conversations, your sales team needs to attentively listen to the client and relay via body language that they understand what the client is saying. They should never check their phone or multitask. They can occasionally jot down notes about specific candidate experience a client is looking for or future openings they’ll want filled, but should mostly be focused on the speaker while making eye contact.
|Your sales team will see two benefits from positioning themselves with unfolded arms and legs in a non-defensive posture. First, it will encourage clients to share information, perhaps discussing a hiring freeze that’s ending soon or a former employee who was not a good fit. Second, sitting with open body language improves memory so your sales team will be better at retaining insight gathered about the client. One study found that volunteers remembered 38 percent more information when they sat with their bodies in a more open posture.
“It’s important to convey confidence when leading a meeting,” says Amy Bingham, sales effectiveness trainer and coach. “Strong eye contact, good posture, attention to managing fidgetiness and other distracting habits are important.”
|When your salesperson is meeting with a manager who’s new to his or her position, perfect! New leaders are often dealing with employee turnover and need to make new hires, placing your staffing firm in a position of being extremely valuable.Your salespeople should know that they can signal agreement and likeability by noting how their clients are positioned and subtly mirroring their body language.
“Leaning forward shows that you’re engaged and interested,” says Goman. “But be respect of the other person’s space. That means, in most business situations, staying about two feet away.”
|It’s OK for your team members to use their hands naturally when they talk, according to Goman. She says that using hands can actually improve someone’s own speech. If your sales team is discussing your staffing agency’s rates or what to charge for projects, they should know that using gestures — naturally — may help them form clearer thoughts and speak more succinctly.
“In this industry everybody sells, therefore everybody must learn to practice conveying confidence and competence,” says Bingham. “Your body language gives you away and it must be actively managed to achieve these goals.”
When it comes to how your recruiting sales team performs, you want them to have all of the information necessary to succeed, build your client base and grow your business. Body language may seem unimportant, but it has a proven effect on how people are perceived. Insight about body language can give your sales team an edge and help them better connect with clients to make a killer first impression.
Learn more concrete tips to help grow your sales team by downloading our whitepaper, Conquering the Recruiting Sales Team Process.