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Sales: The Importance of Body Language and Tone


We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by the tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself.” — Samuel Butler.

Studies have shown time and time again that the vast majority of communication is not about what we say, but in how we say it. The hard fast rule, according to Psychology Today, is that communication is only 7 percent verbal, 55 percent body language, with tone making up the other 38 percent.

A great example that comes to mind is when we consider our teenage years. You were just sitting in your room when suddenly your mother called your name. You would distinctly and immediately know by her volume and tone whether or not you were in trouble. So then why is it that when newer sales people enter the field, they immediately start looking for scripts, closing techniques or things, such as what to say to get past gatekeepers, etc.?

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a true believer in the power of scripts for the non-sales person. When you finish ordering from fast food they will often ask, “would you like to upsize that?” Or another example is when checking out at a toy store they’ll ask, “Do you need batteries today?”

When we say “no,” the person across from you does not try to close the sale by describing the tremendous added value of why you should consider biggie-sizing that meal or purchasing those batteries. They are simply running a script given to them by a management team that is known to increase sales simply by requiring them to ask after every transaction. But I am venturing off topic here…

When role playing with your team or in the mirror, you need to not only think about what you say, but how you say it. I am going to repeat that. It is not only about what you say, but how you say it.

How we say it will include things like your volume, tone, cadence, visual appearance, smells, atmosphere, eye contact, etc.  You could have the perfect sales script, but if you don’t listen intently you will be perceived as insincere. If you stand too close, you are perceived as creepy. If you speak too fast, they may think you are hiding something, etc.   

Last analogy I swear: If you own a restaurant that smells like sewage, are resources best spent in buying better ingredients or fixing the bad smell? So, make sure you are allocating your time in self training to all areas of need, including the nonverbal portion of communication.

For simplicity and actionables you can work on today, let’s whittle this down to a few core things we can work on immediately:

  • Professional Appearance: I don’t just mean your clothes and hair. Those are the easy, obvious details. I mean the entire area that the prospect will be experiencing. If you are touring someone through a fitness center, everything needs to be on point. It should be bright, clean and have a pleasant aroma; and limit the overuse of signage and crazy loud music. A dirty gym erodes value. If you can see it, they can see it. A dirty shirt erodes value. Dust, scuffed paint, fuzzy TV’s erode value. You get it right?
  • Tone, Volume and Cadence: Studies have shown a very interesting phenomenon happens when two people start to communicate with each other. Everyone arrives to a conversation with a different tone, cadence and volume. Yet somehow, almost instantly, the two people will sync up and find a sort of conversational harmony. We also believe that one person’s conversational style is more dominant and that he or she who “sets the tone” generally is the one who drives the conversation. Learning how to “Pace and Lead” a conversation is a powerful tool for all sales people to grasp.
  • Body Language: In a previous article, I had outlined how I would break down my personal training tours into four distinct parts. In the first 15-minute block I take on the persona of a therapist, sitting back in my chair and listening intently. In the second 15-minute block though, I want to switch gears and project the body language of a game winning coach that will inspire change in your life. I am louder, leaning forward and much more animated. By intentionally utilizing body language we can subconsciously communicate a great many things. In this instance it would be both sincere rapport and clearly inspiring.

Whether you are just starting out as a sales person or you are a seasoned closer, everyone can benefit from planning out an intentionally designed process to address the nonverbal parts of communication. Very few utilize all the toys in our tool box. Success isn’t a happy accident. Leave nothing to chance and the sky is your limit.

Jason R. Stowell is the division director of fitness and wellness for JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. He is an award-winning fitness leader with over 20 years of successful experience providing strategic planning, talent management, and expert-level sales training in the health and fitness industry. Connect with him on Linkedin here

Jason R. Stowell

Jason R. Stowell is recognized as one of the highest-grossing sales performers over the last 25 years in the health and wellness industry. As an award-winning leader, Jason provides strategic planning, talent management and expert-level sales training through his Empowered Fitness Sales System workshops and industry-leading sales presentations at conferences internationally. Connect with him now on LinkedIn here

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