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Most of you probably believe that using your body to win sales is unprofessional. Well it’s not. In fact it is underrated and underused.

Now before this starts to read like it belongs in Zoo Magazine, let me explain. Body language is an integral aspect of selling that is often untapped. Our bodies can accelerate rapport building, and rapport is a crucial step towards gaining the trust of prospects.

For example, you can tell when two people have developed strong rapport, by similarities in their communication patterns. Things like harmonious body language, physical expressions, voice patterns and even language. This can happen naturally over time, as people get to know each other. But often in a new business situation – time is a luxury most of us don’t have.

So the trick is to accelerate rapport building without compromising the successful set up of a sale and your body is key to achieving this. How? Through subtle ‘matching and mirroring’.

For instance, if I’m meeting a prospect for the first time, I first observe posture. I note whether they prefer to stand or sit, if they cross their arms and if they lean in, or away from me as we speak. Then I mirror this behaviour – because it’s their preferred way to communicate, and therefore they will be more receptive to my messages.

Many of us were taught to look people directly in the eyes as we speak, but not everyone is comfortable with this. So I’ll take the lead from my prospect. If they look to the side of me while we talk, I’ll occasionally do the same.

I mirror gestures. If the prospect keeps their hands relatively still, I do too. On the other hand, people who tend to talk with their hands seem to be more responsive when I gesture more frequently.

You can even observe and mirror physical contact levels or personal space preferences. If they are a little touchy and are comfortable with close proximity, I follow suit. If they keep a fair distance, I’m careful not to be a personal space invader!

I know what you’re thinking. How can I use my body when I’m on the phone or behind the computer? You can still mirror tone, level of detail, language choices and more. However I can’t stress enough that one-on-one time in person is the best rapport building or selling time you’ll ever get. And when you get it, really work your body. Body language, that is.

– Petar Lackovic is general manager and master trainer at the National Sales Academy, an Australian company specialising in sales and communication training.

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