Boss Lady

Reading body language to make the sale


A recent study by researchers at the University of Exeter (March 23, 2016 in the journal Interface) has demonstrated that people who move in a similar way display similar personality traits and are able to interact more harmoniously.  Experts extrapolated from this study and others that the way people move reveal personality traits, so specifically that each person has an IMS, or an Individual Motor Signature, as detailed and unique as a fingerprint.  The way people move also varies according to their feelings in the moment.  By understanding the psychology of body movement, we can use this knowledge to get the best products to our clients.

Body language can convey a lot of important information, such as:

  1. Level of interest
  2. Openness
  3. Distrust
  4. Insecurity
  5. Being on the verge of a decision

Knowing our clients’ feelings as indicated by their body language can allow us to move in flow with their process, and make the sale at just the right time.  This will improve our effectiveness and ensure that the client feels visible and validated.

Gestures that Show a lack of interest

When a client is not interested in what is being offered, she will display that lack of interest in her body language.  Signs of lack of interest can be seen in how the body is positioned.  A critical eye may be shot toward the unwanted object, be it a car or insurance policy.  This lack of interest may be projected at the seller.  Feet may point toward the nearest exit, rather than toward the seller.  Eyes will be cast away from the product and its seller and toward other objects which may be touched or examined.  Demeanor will be closed off, harms holding each other defensively.

Some physical signs of lack of interest are:

  • Arms crossed, holding oneself defensively
  • Gaze directed down as if looking down on a smaller inferior or conversely in shame that one will be unable to fulfill the sellers’ desire of making the sale (if you are dealing with more submissive personalities)
  • Palms may be waved down at the object as if pushing it away rather than accepting it. The head will be often turned away from the product or the seller

Body language that shows interest

Gestures that show interest include gaze focused on the product or the seller.  Arms will be expansive, palms gesturing upward as if receiving something.  Eyes will be on the seller and nodding the head in agreement.  Head nodding is like a small bow.  It is also similar to the motion of a baby accepting the mother for sucking.  The palms down push is similar to how the babe who is not hungry will turn his head away from the nipple and push it away.  This behavior stays with us as adults.  The man who does not want to purchase a car will turn his head away from it and gesture with an overhand push toward the object.


Openness should be the seller’s goal.  The seller may first mimic the body language of the client.  This makes it possible to work with the client more harmoniously, as was discovered in the University of Exeter (2016) study.  The man who is examining a car with a critical eye needs the seller as a companion, an ingroup member, mirroring his own body language.  If that body language is one of rejection, the seller can slowly shift the body language balance to one of openness and acceptance.  She may begin with arms crossed like the client to establish rapport as she makes her pitch.  As she lists off the benefits of her product, her body language should change to one of openness and acceptance, as if she had been of the same critical mind of the client, but had then been convinced of the benefit of the product as she gave her sales pitch.

You will see great car saleswomen begin this way.  As the potential buyer looks over the car, she will mimic his state of uncertainty, arms crossed, brow furled, even palms down gestures.  As she makes her pitch, her body language changes skillfully, and the clients’ body language opens up and begins to follow.  Her chances of making the sale are tremendously improved.  And even if she does not make this particular sale, she has established a physical and social closeness and familiarity with the client, who may then become a lifelong customer.


The body language of uncertainty combines acceptance and rejection motions.  While lost in thought, the client may touch the nose or chin.  He may pull in his ear.  The hands fumble or rub together quickly in anticipation.  There are palms up gestures and palms down gestures in quick succession.  The client’s feet will shift its weight from one to the other, nervously.  The feet will point alternately to the product or seller and to the exit door, as the mind decides what to do.  In this state, the seller will mimic this body language while skillfully shifting the balance to a positive, accepting, open, and courageous one.  She will go from dented, critical brow, to relaxed, happy brows which have accepted the benefit of the product.  Her feet will point toward the product and toward the client.  She will sometimes turn up the heat by looking toward the exit as if to suggest the client must make a decision or the opportunity could be retracted if someone else buys the car.  But slowly, she will coax the client into mimicking her demeanor of acceptance and confidence in the product and in the decision made.

Decision to buy is made!

The seller must read body language to gauge when the decision to buy has been made.  The client has gone from closed arms, to alternating closed and open, then finally to open.  Feet have stopped shifting, eyes are on the product he now feels is his.  Now the seller needs to project confidence in his decision and in the product.  She will do this with power poses.

Power poses

Power poses are poses that primates do to look larger and wider.  Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy has found these poses actually raise testosterone and confidence in women and men.  These are poses where the arms and shoulders are far apart to appear wider, or the arms are up in celebration with hands closed, or one is doing a bicep pose like bodybuilders.  The seller does this to show confidence in the buyer’s decision with a short celebratory pose.  If the buyer displays signs of uncertainty, the seller continues to hype up the buyer with power poses.  Finally, she may touch the buyer on the shoulder as a sign of affiliation while making her shoulders wide to show that they as a group have made a powerful decision of mutual benefit.  She will be smiling and looking for the client to mimic her smile, her swagger, and her confidence in the sale that has been made.  This will erase all feelings of uncertainty.


Sometimes the seller will run into those who are naturally distrustful.  The distrustful person will gaze at the product or seller with furled brow through the corner of his eye.  He will not face frontally the product or seller.  He will face away or even turn his back on the seller or product.  He may purse his lips, again, as if a newborn rejecting the nipple.  He will look away, often into the sky, in order to show purposeful inattention, rather than incidental diversion of attention.

The seller will begin by mimicking his body language.  Staring with him into the sky.  Slowly, she will give her sales pitch, changing her body language from one of mistrust to one of openness.  She will agree that buying a car is a big decision, and some sellers will try to defraud you.  She will tell the client how she makes sure her customers always get the best deal.  As she is convincing the client, her body will react as if she were convincing herself.  Going from closed, arms in, palms down, to open, shoulders wide, palms up.


An understanding of customers’ body language psychology will help you choose the right communication strategy and be an effective seller.  The seller must read the body language of the buyer, at first mimicking it to induce affiliation.  Then she will slowly coax the balance of her and the buyer’s body language to one of openness, acceptance, and confidence.  It is important that she does not move so fast that her body language quickly becomes opposed to that of the seller, as this will cause distrust.  She should not act overly familiar at the beginning.  She can begin with a handshake, then after she has synchronized her body language to that of the seller, after the decision to buy has been made, she will touch the clients’ shoulder in affiliation, sealing the deal and building a magnetic, lifelong rapport.

About Kathrin Garner

Kathrin Garner is an enthusiastic journalist and writes article on social issues. As an activist, she takes part in the NCSM program. She searches for topics that are relevant.

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