The Top Sales Training Body Language Mistake

What is the #1 Mistake Sales Professionals make when it comes to body language signals of their potential clients?

Sales professionals focus on looking for the “lean in” body language signal. It is commonly taught to look for the moment when a potential client leans into you, the sales person. If you see that shift, celebrate and ask for the sale!

I’m not going to argue that point because I do believe it is true—to a point. It is a mistake to put all your sales in this one body language signal basket because the “lean in” will only reliably occur from a small portion of purchasers.

Why? The “lean in” is a body language signal in the sagittal plane (forward-backward). Movement Pattern Analysts have verified this signal as one of action which is why it can mean someone is ready to take the action of signing on the line or giving their credit card.

The problem isn’t the signal itself, but in the body habits of individuals. What if your potential client simply doesn’t move in the sagittal plane? You may not see this signal and will lose out on the sale because you don’t think he/she is interested, will never close, is not worth your time, etc.

What can you look for instead? There are different “yes” signals from different types of individuals. Too much to cover here. However, the universal signal to look for is…

Relief! At the moment the potential client has made a decision to work with you, there will be a perceptible relaxing of muscles when the tension surrounding making the decision dissipates. Easiest to observe is releasing tension in the shoulders, jaw or forehead. (The tension may come back a bit when they actually commit to a signature- particularly for large investments.)

Other things to look for:

  • Moving backward in the chair
  • Deep breath or “sigh of relief”
  • Releasing arms so they “flop”
  • Uncrossing arms or legs

For more nonverbal communication tips and training, sign up for Moving Image’s newsletter or check out for on-line and in person training options. Alison Henderson is a Certified Movement Analyst trained to specifically observe the moving body and its link to the cognitive process in the brain.