Body Language Sales Secrets: How to Read Prospects and Decode Subconscious Signals to Get Results and Close the Deal

Body Language Sales Secrets: How to Read Prospects and Decode Subconscious Signals to Get Results and Close the Deal

by Maryann Karinch, Jim McCormick

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632651181
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 12/27/2017
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 425,319
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Maryann Karinch is the author of 10 books, most of which address human behavior. Her corporate background includes senior communications positions with technology companies. Maryann and Gregory are coauthors of How to Spot a Liar and I Can Read You Like a Book.

Jim McCormick has shaped capital campaigns, sales strategies, and major donor programs for clients from the National World War II Museum to multiple international companies. The coauthor of the best-selling The First-Time Manager and Business Lessons from the Edge, McCormick is the former COO of the fifth largest architectural firm in the United States. He earned an MBA in Marketing from the University of California, Irvine and currently resides near Denver, Colorado.

Read an Excerpt



This is a handbook to help you read and use body language with intention. When you can do that, you will be better at selling than you currently are — even if you're already very effective! Your aim is to develop competence in knowing why people (including you) make certain moves and how the meaning of those actions affects your sales process. That's your key to knowing if you are moving closer or further away from the close.

The only reason to read this book is because you want to improve in sales, so we are making an assumption: that you want to engage in some kind of selling and will take the steps necessary to have a richer, more satisfying professional life.

We can help you do that, but there is a caveat: The body language techniques we cover work best if you belong in a sales role. Because you were interested enough in improving to pick up this book, there is a high likelihood that your natural skill set includes the innate strengths you need to succeed in sales. But what if you have found yourself in a sales role and feel out of place in it? That is a piece of self-awareness that's vital to your success and in deciding next steps in your career.

The meat of the book is body language practices that can help people engaged in selling to go from suitable to extraordinary. This means transforming from someone who merely sells to someone who connects with clients and customers — someone who persuades, influences, and closes. Adopting these techniques if you are miscast in a sales role may work, or it may project incongruity. The movements of a person who is not well-suited to selling often involve over-compensation for discomfort by excessive nodding and smiling. There may also be gestures that are over the top for the individual. The person in that situation is merely trying to be someone she is not. She is trying to act like someone who is good at sales.

Do not put yourself into a sales role if it's a case of miscasting. Do put anyone else into that role, either, unless the person is well-suited for it. Otherwise, even if the new position is a promotion, you are not serving that person well, and, ultimately, you're the one who looks bad.

To confirm that sales in some form is a natural fit for you, we ask you take some time up-front in this process and do a short self-evaluation. It's a simple exercise Jim developed out of research for his first book, The Power of Risk: How Intelligent Choices Will Make You More Successful.

Who Needs to Sell?

Before you begin the self-evaluation, consider how many different forms of sales there are. And when you review the categories, consider how unusual it would be for one person to be great at all of them!

Alan Dershowitz is a famous criminal lawyer who effectively pleaded cases for celebrities such as boxer Mike Tyson, heiress Patty Hearst, and television evangelist Jim Bakker. He was successful at getting the conviction of socialite Claus von Bülow overturned in the murder of his wife, Sunny. He is a consummate salesman of ideas. Like many professionals who have to persuade and influence, his foundation knowledge is not selling, per se, but he combines the voice and body of a top sales professional with his knowledge of law to "close the deal" with juries. Fundraising professionals do this every day, convincing donors that they will receive the emotional affirmation, recognition, and other benefits they desire by committing their money to the cause.

"Product sales" encompasses a broad spectrum of diverse challenges. In this book, we spotlight the different kinds of body language, mental, and emotional challenges associated with various retail, wholesale, and vertical market sales situations. The latter often require in-depth product knowledge and keen awareness of an industry, as the sale is being made to a customer with specialized needs. We also give you some simple tips, such as how to get yourself calm and centered quickly, and what body language to avoid when your prospect seems agitated.

The hybrid sale of idea and product is something that both of us deal with daily. For Jim, one of the hybrids is the idea of a museum to showcase the legacy, science, adventure, and future of skydiving. But it isn't built yet, so the pitch to donors also involves a product: the building itself as well as the exhibits inside. For Maryann, it's books. The idea is the editorial content of the project; the product is the written word. For a mountain bike shop, it's the offer of expertise in planning a bike-packing vacation combined with the bikes and related equipment at the store.

"Professional services" encompasses a broad range of skilled and licensed people who spend their lives offering their expertise to others. For many of them, a huge part of their success is their ability to combine rapport-building with excellence in their field. For most of these people, the word sales is not in their title, even when they are selling something like financial services. They see themselves as advisors, which is the word we see much more often than salesman. The really good ones are truly advisors.

Finally, there are the sales professionals who have a package of product/support to offer. Some technology companies routinely send an engineer with the sales representative in presenting to a major prospect. The engineer doesn't "do" sales — at least not overtly — but is in the meeting to bolster the sales rep's expertise. There are similar models in medical devices and other industries. One important element of the success of the technician/sales rep team is that the content and body language of both send mutually reinforcing messages to the customer.

Are You a Natural?

The self-awareness exercise on natural skill sets that Jim developed asks you simply to list the things at which you excel, the things you're reasonably good at, and the things you don't do well at all.

• Your strengths are things you're good at and give a sense of fulfillment.

• Your serviceable skills are things you're good at, but doing them does not give you pleasure.

• Your weaknesses, or areas for improvement, are things you are not good at — at least not currently — and doing them is more frustrating than fulfilling to you.

Before you go about logging each on a table like we will discuss shortly, here are a few things to consider.

Your strengths are capabilities that come to you naturally. They are areas of competence you may never have really focused on so you may not even be aware of some of them yet. Consider the career paths of Martha Stewart and Julia Child, neither of whom delved into cuisine until she was well into her 30s. Stewart was a stockbroker and Child was a copyrighter for an advertising agency who did a little work for a U.S. intelligence agency on the side.

With that in mind, please don't be cavalier about this exercise. Give yourself time to think about what comes easily to you — what you can do without a lot of thought. Do you have an excellent sense of direction? Are you a good negotiator, with friends asking you to haggle with a street merchant or negotiate a car purchase for them because you're really good at getting a deal? Do you have artistic talents, such as drawing and sketching, singing, or making people laugh? None of the things you list need to be career related. Think broadly about all areas of your life.

Create a three-column table with the headings "Strengths," "Serviceable Skills," and "Weaknesses" (or "Areas for Improvement").

Now, start filling in the left-hand column, and then come back to your table as you progress through the exercise.

Skills and passions travel well, so as you think about what to put in that left column, consider what you do in various environments. Our friend Wendy unintentionally illustrated one of her natural skills and passions while on vacation. She is someone who, in a very skilled way, devotes volunteer time to raising money and organizing fundraisers for local health and education charities. While at a ski resort where a lot of friends had gathered for a memorial service for a fellow skier who had died in an avalanche, she learned that the widow was having trouble affording basic upkeep on their home. She personally went to the people there — more than 200 — and asked them for contributions to help the widow. Within a single day, she raised enough money for several months' worth of utility bills.

If you asked Wendy to list her strengths, she might say gardening and being a mom, but it wouldn't occur to her to list fundraising. Actually, her natural talent is paying attention to other people's needs and then using her energy and intelligence to help meet those needs. She is a natural in sales.

We are inclined to undervalue the talents and abilities that come to us easily. When something comes to us readily and requires little effort, it is easy to value it less than abilities we had to work hard to acquire. Watch for this. If a strength comes to mind and your immediate thought is "Oh, that's no big deal," you've found an ability you undervalue.

After you've put all the strengths that come to mind on your list — or you're stumped — solicit input from others. Ask friends, family members, and colleagues this question: "What am I really good at?" Ask them to specify the abilities they consider to be your strengths. Is some of what you hear going to fall into the category of flattery? Maybe, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to it!

Serviceable skills are things you do reasonably well when you have to, but that require more effort than those on your strengths list. You don't find doing these things easy, but if you have to, you can pull them off.

We have a wonderful friend who has no talent in the kitchen, but she entertains a lot because she and her husband are hospitable. Every time she does, she gets upscale pre-packaged entrées from places like Trader Joe's and Omaha Steaks. Her meals are crowd-pleasers, but not because she has any talent for chopping, seasoning, or marinating. She pulls great stuff out of the freezer and turns on the oven. It's a chore she handles effectively.

An example for Jim is accounting. He did well in the accounting courses he'd taken while earning his MBA. He's quite good at the order, sequence, and logic of accounting — but he hates doing it. If he had to do accounting all day, he would be wandering the streets shouting through a bullhorn declaring the end of the world. Accounting goes on his serviceable skills list.

Turning to the last columns, we have that potentially painful list of things we get no applause for ... because we don't deserve it. This is Maryann teeing off near a water hazard and invariably plopping her pink ball into the creek. In a work environment, for many young managers, it's the skill of delegating. The near-obsession to get the job done well cramps their ability to share the load to get the job done better.

Weaknesses and areas for improvement cause you to struggle and can even make you cringe. You'd rather have a tooth pulled without anesthesia than do some of them. Or you may not find them distasteful, but you just don't do them well.

Again, input from others close to you will be helpful here. Ask people around you what you are not good at. They may enjoy creating that list more than you can imagine! Pay attention to them.

Now that you have a list of the good, okay, and ugly, you are ready to create a game plan for your sales career — or to scrap that sales career and consider another path that exploits your strengths.

Your sales career relates intimately to your ability to take risks, and this is an area of real expertise for Jim. Decades of research into risk-taking and working with sales professionals has given him unique insight into how to help you venture beyond your comfort zone on your path to success. Those thoughts are embedded throughout this book.

When you combine that path to intelligent risk-taking with the spectrum of body language skills we both have to offer, you will be a superior performer!

Step 1: Be sure that sales is what you want to do.

Step 2: Commit to regularly stepping out of your comfort zone.

Step 3: Absorb the body language sales secrets in the book; make them part of your natural sales vocabulary.

Step 4: Teach your colleagues. Shared success is a supreme joy!

Summary Points

• Many people who need to be good at selling do not even have "sales" in their title or job description. A broad range of professionals regularly persuades, influences, and closes — that's sales.

• Pinpoint your innate skills to determine how well suited you are for a selling environment. One skill area is your willingness to move beyond your comfort zone to connect with prospects and customers.

• If you want to excel at sales, be prepared to modify your behavior with a new skill set: reading and using body language.



Comfort zone: that place where you feel unthreatened and in control. In selling, you are outside it much of the time — if you're really good. An emotionally flat exchange with a prospect may project how stress-free you are, but that's as engaging as a first date with no spark. A certain amount of emotion helps establish and strengthen a connection; it's "good stress."

In selling, you are always pursuing a particular outcome (the order, the commitment, the contract), but being successful means accepting an uncertain path to your goal. That is the fun in selling: responding artfully and effectively to whatever comes your way during the sales process.

Let's start with the premise that you get a little amped when you're selling. In terms of body language, that means you are deviating from your baseline behavior; that is, you are being affected by stress, even if it's just a tiny amount. One of the results is that you unconsciously resort to a self-soothing movement. These movements range from the ordinary, like rubbing fingers together, to the strange and distracting, like wrapping a rubber band around a finger over and over again. (Yes, we've seen it.)

In this chapter, we begin by helping you identify your baseline and that of others. It's just as important that you know when you are deviating from your baseline as it is that you know when your prospect or customer is exhibiting signs of stress. We will also help you recognize what movements or vocal glitches you — and others you encounter — adopt in response to stress.


A baseline is the composite of the movements and vocal expressions when you're in a relatively relaxed state. It is the way you act and speak in your comfort zone. Determining an individual's baseline is the first vital skill of reading and using body language.

A baseline and the factors contributing to it might change depending on the setting. For example, your style of relaxed speech and behavior might be different at home and at work. As a corollary, the topics that trigger an emotional response in these two environments might be different. At work, if a direct report says, "I don't want to do that," you might feel a wave of stress coming on. But if your 4-year-old child says, "I don't want to do that," it's just a sign of her budding independence.

Baselining is the skill set you rely on to pick up subtle variations in body language and tone of voice. Once you know what to look and listen for, you can detect changes that accompany stress of varying degrees. That ability gives you a high degree of control in your interaction with someone. It makes it possible for you to detect deception, mistrust, uncertainty, or any other emotion that could profoundly impact your interactions with someone.

There is no standard baseline for human beings any more than there is a standard hair or eye color. Sure, there may be significant similarities among people, but human beings can differ dramatically in how they behave when they are relatively relaxed. For example, we have probably all seen people who seem to go through life with their mouths open, that is, mouth-breathers. That's normal for them, whereas many of us wouldn't do that unless we were surprised or gasping for air. Similarly, some people have a tick or a quirky way of moving their hands. For other people, those would be signs of stress; for them, it's business as usual.

The basic steps to establishing someone's baseline are:

• Take in the overall picture. What's your impression of the person's state? Calm, agitated, uncomfortable, or anything else on the spectrum of emotions? Mentally put a label on it.

• If the person seems anything except calm and devoid of stress, this is not the moment to get a baseline. In Chapter 5, we cover ways to calm someone down (including yourself). In the meantime, here is a quick tip: Make an observation about something that's likely to be a "feel good" aspect of your prospect's life. If you notice that he has:

[??] A photo of a sailboat on his desk, ask, "Is that your boat?"

[??] Cufflinks that are little airplanes, ask, "Are you a pilot?"

[??] A suntan, remark, "Great tan. Vacation or golf?"

[??] A copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Shakespeare on the bookshelf, ask, "Are you a Shakespeare buff?"

These are "yes" or "no" questions, so it's not as though you are asking the person to invest a lot of time in the answer. Even so, if the thing you noticed does represent an enjoyable part of the person's life, he'll probably give you at least a few sentences and will be more relaxed than before. Get started on determining the baseline.


Excerpted from "Body Language Sales Secrets"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jim McCormick and Maryann Karinch.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Fundamentals 11

1 Should You Look Inside the Book? 13

2 Beyond Your Comfort Zone 23

3 Elements of a Sales Relationship 53

4 Engage! 81

5 Reading and Managing Responses 103

Part 2 Applying the Fundamentals to Types of Sales 123

6 Relationship Selling 127

7 Solution Selling 151

8 Expertise Selling 171

9 ROI Selling 189

10 Fear Selling 213

Practices and Exercises: Make the Secrets Yours 225

Glossary 237

Notes 241

Index 247

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