Question: I have heard there are ways to know what someone is thinking by reading his body language. Is this true?

Answer: Numerous articles have been written about body language. Although it is not an exact science, being aware of signals that may indicate what a customer is thinking is helpful.

People react to different stimuli. Some might be visual. Others are auditory or kinesthetic.

Eye movements can sometimes indicate how best to communicate with the person. Looking upward or to the side might indicate someone is visual, as they are processing what you say with mental images.

This is a good sign. They are carefully considering what you are saying. Visual people might react well to a PowerPoint presentation.

Looking straight at you is also a good sign the person is interested. But looking downward can signal the person is not comfortable with your message. Failure to make eye contact with you might indicate a lack of interest.

Body posture is another indicator of how your message is being received. John Boe, who owns Boe International, a California-based consulting firm that helps companies recruit, train and motivate people, said, “There are two basic categories of body posture: open/closed and forward/back.”

Leaning forward with unfolded arms and legs uncrossed usually indicates interest and agreement, Boe said. Leaning back with folded arms and crossed legs often indicates a lack of interest. Boe said “chin stroking” is a good sign the customer is strongly considering a proposal.

A good salesperson is like a chameleon — he can adapt to his environment. When talking to a customer, personalize the relationship. If you see a picture of the customer’s son in a football uniform, talk sports before launching into your sales pitch.

Pace your delivery to match that of your prospect. Listen more intently, and dress to fit the occasion. The goal is always to get the customer involved in the conversation. If you are doing all the talking, you have already lost the sale.


  Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.