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As small business owners, we all know that customers like to buy from people they know they can trust. And we trust what we see more than anything else.

Understanding how your company's sales-focused staff can communicate trust visually to their customers and prospects—with body language—is a major factor in getting potential buyers on side. Using the right nonverbal signals increases a sales professional's likeability and subsequently the likeability of the product or service that they are representing. This, in turn, can help elevate your business to "friend" status in the mind of the buyer.

Here are five top tips for winning sales with body language:

Put your body on display

When talking with potential clients or customers, let them see you: move out from behind obstructions, pull your chair back from the table or step away from the speaker's lectern—in short, display more of your body. Your audience needs to see your body to decide what they think your intentions and feelings are towards them. The less you show, the more they make-up those feelings and intentions, and tend to default towards the negative.

Show your hands

Keep your palms open with nothing in your hands to let others know that you mean no harm and are speaking for their benefit. This is a universally recognised "friendly" gesture and instinctively puts you in a friendly and trustworthy frame of mind for the potential buyer.

Speak from your belly

Place your hands in what is called the TruthPlane, a term I've trademarked for the horizontal plane that extends 180 degrees out of your navel area, to display a sense to your audience or listener that you can be trusted. Bringing the audience's unconscious attention to this vulnerable area of your body will make them feel that you are very confident. By assuming this physicality, you will feel confident too. Watch how well-trained and trusted news anchors use this technique on TV.

Raise the bar on energy

Show your prospects you are excited by your product or service by raising your hands to chest level, aka the PassionPlane, when you speak. This sends your own heart rate up, and your audience will mirror this physical reaction by getting excited about purchasing too.

Stop reading and start leading

Don't try to read other people's body language consciously for so called "buying signals." Generally, most of us stand little more than a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Instead, concentrate on influencing your audience to mirror your simple and positive non-verbal behaviour, and they will be extremely likely to trust and engage with you every time you sell.

Mark Bowden is creator of TRUTHPLANE, a communication training company and unique methodology for anyone who has to communicate with impact. His training is used by the sales teams of many Fortune 500 companies. He is the author of Winning Body Language for Sales Professionals (McGraw-Hill).


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