What a prospect says may be different than what they are thinking. Some people keep a poker face as a negotiating technique, while others may be trying to politely hide their disinterest. There are a few common body gestures that may suggest what is actually on someone's mind.
Before you do anything, establish a baseline for your prospect's behavior. Use small talk unrelated to your pitch to gauge your prospect's body language in normal conversation. Ask about plans for the weekend, the weather forecast, or some other benign question. Pay close attention to their mannerisms when they respond so you will be able to better detect changes later in the meeting.
Once you have established your prospects normal behavior, here are some movements to keep an eye out for during your next sales meeting:
When two people are in agreement, they begin to subtly mirror each other's actions. This would be a good sign to watch out for in a sales meeting to determine how the prospect is feeling. If your prospect is mirroring your actions, then it's a good sign that you are on the same page in your discussion.
People's eyes tend to linger on things they like. A prospect may be trying to act disinterested, but if their gaze keeps coming back to a person or object they are probably interested. Follow your prospect's gaze to see if they make good eye contact or keep glancing out the window.
Many people squint their eyes when they perceive something as troubling or problematic. Definitely take notice of this in a sales meeting and use it to address your prospect's concerns.
Smiles are well known as a way to indicate agreement. When they disagree, people tend to purse their lips or clench their jaw. However, smiles are also used to be polite or cover up feelings, so check for crinkling around the eyes to see if it's a genuine smile.
Sometimes taken to be a sign of deceit, face touching is really a movement people use to comfort themselves and is a sign that something is bothering them. It may be that the prospect is lying or withholding information, but it could also be something else causing discomfort. Something about the pitch may have put them on guard, so find out if you can address any concerns they may have.
In general, the more open the position of your prospect's arms, the more receptive he or she is. Open-hand gestures are usually a positive signal of interest and receptivity. By contrast, closed fists, folded arms, etc. are usually defensive gestures. A seller can use these gestures to gauge how receptive their prospect is.
Leaning forward indicates interest and comfort. Leaning slightly back can indicate relaxation, but at the extreme end can indicate boredom. Make sure that you keep your prospect engaged.
Most people don't think much about what their legs and feet are saying, so there can be some good insight gained here. Feet facing the seller and legs stretched out show positive engagement, while legs pulled back or wrapped around the chair legs shows negativity and disengagement.
Although reading body language is far from an exact science, you can use these gestures to help you judge how comfortable and receptive your prospect is during your next meeting. After the meeting is over, be sure to follow up with an article, white paper, or booklet. Unlike a brochure, your prospects will keep these as a reference and it will position you as a trusted resource.