effective body language in sales negotiations

Communication and effective body language are crucial skills we use in every area of our lives, so human interaction is essential for creating and maintaining relationships. So it’s obvious that the way you use body language to communicate will directly influence the outcome of your negotiation.

The importance of Body Language in negotiations is that it can make or break a deal. Here at SOCO Sales Training, we understand all good things take time, including learning and applying the most influential body language techniques. To save you time, we’ve collated the best tips for applying effective body language techniques to use in your next negotiation.

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Effective Body Language Needs A Perfect Handshake

The handshake is your first physical connection with a prospect, ultimately setting the tone for the rest of the meeting. So consider this, the University of Chicago recently published a group of studies concluding that the perfect handshake makes people feel at ease, promotes honesty, and increases the cooperative spirit that leads to closing a deal.

I mean it’s just one of many aspects that build a representation of you – You arrive early, dress well and you’ve prepared your data or evidence for the negotiation, but when it comes down to it – your handshake is weak and floppy!

If you know, this is you, or you want to ensure you’re taking every precaution, check out our simple guide for the perfect handshake here:

Always use your right hand, it’s customary to do so! So make sure your hands aren’t laden with notebooks, laptops or anything else that will disrupt a smooth handshake.

One shake is enough! You might well be enthusiastic, but it’s crucial to remain poised and professional.

Firm handshakes are ideal, especially when you keep them brief. However, if you tend to be a little heavy-handed, be mindful that you’re not crushing your prospects hand. Otherwise, how will they sign off on the deal?

Eye Contact while shaking is crucial to showing you’re present – throw in your best smile and you’ll put your prospect at ease in your company.

Please don’t cover the handshake with your other hand unless you know this prospect on a personal level; it’s more of an endearing action. You don’t want to invade their personal space so early into the negotiation.

Introduce yourself! “Hello, I’m SOCO Sales Training” (or you know, your name!) followed by a reassuring smile will guarantee the prospect has your attention.

Well done! You’ve now learnt the fundamental body language techniques to deliver a perfect handshake successfully. We’re not done yet, though, in the next section, we’ll be exploring how non-verbal communication is key to the success of negotiations.

Non-Verbal Communication Negotiation Strategies

Did you know Non-Verbal Communication is 12.5x more powerful than communicating verbally? Check out our tips below to incorporate non-verbal body language techniques into your next negotiation.

Eye-Contact

William Shakespeare probably wasn’t referring to sales, but “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” is a perfect example of why non-verbal communication is so vital for negotiations. You see, when you avoid eye-contact, it can imply that you’re evasive or dishonest – even if you’re not! So maintaining consistent eye-contact is crucial to keep your prospect at ease, develop a rapport and build trust.

On the other hand, prolonged eye-contact can appear to be unnatural, aggressive and even threatening in some cases. So ensure you’re looking away momentarily to process or think about what to say next. It’s a delicate balance, but if you get this body language technique right, you’re on track to closing that deal.

Poker Face

Everyone and we mean everyone, produces unintentional facial expressions – wrinkling your forehead and frowning are always the worst offenders in negotiations. Did you know that Charles Darwin was the first to suggest facial expressions evolved to communicate emotional states that are crucial for survival?

So, unfortunately, whether you like it or not, your prospects will be examining your every move in a negotiation. At this stage, it’s crucial you enhance your negotiation with hard facts, evidence and data but never show your hand.

So, how do you negate any unwanted facial expressions? Remember to:

Keep your chin high, and eyes level will show positivity and eagerness.
Nod and smile in agreement wherever possible.

Mimic

It’s a universal fact that people respond positively to those who are similar to them. So yeah, you guessed it – mimicking your prospect’s body language is one of the most effective body language techniques to apply in negotiations. Aim to return the same enthusiasm to your prospect, and we’re sure you’ll create an air of short-term trust.

Relax

It’s completely normal to feel anxious, stressed, and worried in a negotiation – but you need to relax because your prospect expects you to be calm and self-assured! So how do we combat this? You have to adopt a relaxed and comfortable position when sitting or standing, aim to be softly spoken and try not to make any sudden or aggressive remarks.

Open Posture

In any negotiation, you want to be as attractive as possible to your prospect, so your overall posture needs to be open and engaged. How do you achieve this? Lean in and keep an open stance whilst ensuring your hands are placed below your chest, ready to put your fingers together when you want to make a confident point.

Nod

A simple head nod is an excellent non-verbal communication skill to maintain steady eye-contact, diffuse tension, and quickly build a rapport with your prospect. Not only is it reassuring, but it’s signaling that you’re listening to their every word and encourages them to give as much information as possible. Practice an affirmative yet gentle nod for your next negotiation and note how much more engaged your prospect is!

Proxemics

Have you ever had your personal space invaded by a colleague, stranger or even a friend? Maybe they stood way too close to you, blocking you into a corner – It can feel pretty aggressive, right? That’s precisely why considering your body language in negotiations is so important. You see, Proxemics is the science of personal space. So, how does the distance between two people as they interact affect the outcome of the negotiation?
If either party feels intimidated or threatened, it will throw off the entire balance of the negotiation. Your prospects need to feel respected in their personal space, so a good rule of thumb when beginning negotiations is first to sit or stand a few feet away to assess your prospects comfort level.

Your Next Steps

Incorporating effective body language into your negotiation is only the start of mastering the art of negotiating. You also need to get fully clear on what and how to prepare to negotiate. Once you’re ready, you need to tactfully open the negotiation and have a bag of negotiation strategies to handle even the toughest adversaries. Once the negotiation is complete, everyone must walk away feeling confident that this is only the start of a harmonious business relationship.

All of this happens when you learn how to tactfully negotiate business deals.

Here at SOCO Sales Training, we’ve been helping teams and individuals master essential negotiation skills through our multi-day training and complete e-learning course.

Take your negotiation skills to the next level by enrolling in our Winning in Negotiations Certification course today.

Need negotiation training for your team? Contact us today for more information on our negotiation training programs.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.