Mark Bowden is a spectator. He's a keen observer of people's facial expressions and body language. His main goal is to show us how to use body language successfully as sales professionals.
Bowden believes that people will instantly trust us and what we say if our nonverbal communication is right during the sales process. They associate these emotions of trust with our firm, our product, and our brand.
Join us for the next 10 minutes to learn how to communicate and connect with our customers using our bodies—without speaking a word.
Lesson 1: First Impressions
The impact of nonverbal communication is instantaneous. It's rather basic. We don't glance at someone and then wonder what their body language means. We interpret it in the present tense and, in most circumstances, with greater emphasis than the words themselves.
This all stems from our primordial reptile brain, which determines if a foreign body is a friend, adversary, or maybe disregarded in a split second.
According to Bowden, the default category we place people in is disregard. Regrettably, it is also where others will put us.
We need to utilize our body language to give the appearance of being a friend rather than an opponent or, even worse, bored!
So, how do we go about doing it?
The Truth Plane is the way.
Lesson 2: The Truth Plane
According to Bowden, the fundamental goal of any kind of communication, whether verbal or nonverbal, is to be perceived as non-confrontational, open, accessible, and empathetic to others.
They are not seeking someone to put them down, whether a client during a presentation or a consumer shopping in a store. They're aiming for someone who can assist them. Someone who exudes calm, composure, control, and friendliness.
Bowden's Truth Plane is this. Assume that an invisible line (or plane) runs horizontally across your navel, splitting you in half.
Bowden ensures that by gesturing in this region—the Truth Plane—we will send trustworthy messages and feel a sense of calm, balance, and great vitality.
Your physical center of gravity, according to Bowden, is only a few fingers' breadths below your belly button. This is a specific point where the mass of the whole system acts as if it were concentrated. The adrenal glands, which are hormonally responsible for the severe stress reaction of 'fight' or 'flight,' are located in the same region.
The Truth Plane is also where our body is most susceptible on a physical basis... right under the rib cage. We avoid exposing this region to threats or assault while we go about our business.
This is the key: if we attract attention to and reveal our weakest place, we plainly show we are open and friendly. It's just like a puppy turning over to have its belly rubbed.
Understanding other people's intentions, according to Bowden, is an incredibly essential talent for us in our social relationships.
Both the sender and the receiver of a message must understand the importance of the sender's signal for communication to be successful. Both the communicator and the receiver experience an energetic, calm, confident, and balanced impact when our hands gesture inside the Truth Plane.
The act of placing hands on the Truth Plane, he claims, is the single most efficient technique for a salesman to combat natural stress reactions.
It gives a clear message to potential consumers that there are no issues and that everyone may feel secure. It communicates to the customer that you are not a threat. It provides an environment that encourages participation and discussion.
Lesson 3: The Door Plane
Bowden also presents a new postural plane to us. Consider a doorframe. Now, adjust your center of gravity so that you're standing exactly in the middle of the frame, not behind or in front of it. In what Bowden refers to as the Door Plane, you are now balanced.
We come to appear as forceful and dominant if we relocate our equilibrium in front of the Door Plane. We will be perceived as frightened and subservient if we stand behind the Door Plane. The beginning place for being physically and psychologically available to guide our customer toward a sale is somewhere in the middle of the Door Plane.
It all boils down to deciphering our client's own frame of reference. We must push ourselves further in front of the Door Plane if we need to be more active than our clients.
Suppose we need to scale back dynamism in a relationship with buyers. In that case, we bring ourselves to be neutral or just behind the Door Plane. If we want to show them that we are on the same level as them, we must intentionally mimic their alignment.
Lesson 4: Territorial Advantages
According to Bowden, excellent body language is all about the client and their perception of their area. Someone whose territory is being invaded cannot listen properly and enjoy a sales presentation because he thinks his standing is being eroded.
In a room or at a table, how we respect the space and orient ourselves to others is equally essential. The goal is to make people feel secure in their own status or position within the area.
Physical barriers that separate us from our clients will prevent us from using the Truth Plane and moving into the "friend" category. We should consider stepping away from furniture and into more open space in certain instances to demonstrate our openness.
Also, suppose we are selling while seated. In that case, we should pull our chair back from the desk or table. And we should adjust it such that we are talking from our Truth Plane over the top of the table. Think of something similar to a news anchor.
According to Bowden, the further away we are from our customers, the less social, personal, or intimate an impact we may have on them. We must establish spatial closeness with them to have a bigger impact. Thus we must move toward them.
However, let's arrive in front of the Door Plane. We must remember how simple it is to cross crucial spatial tolerance boundaries. We risk scaring consumers and diminishing their standing by getting too near to their area or looming over them.
Lesson 5: Giving the Upper Hand
Shaking hands, according to Bowden, is one method to quickly avoid the possibility of status dropping.
The trick to a perfect handshake, he believes, is to "give the upper hand." A proper handshake should always establish complete contact—palm-to-palm—and the hands should be tilted slightly away from the vertical.
It's simple to understand why. Make sure your wrist is vertically aligned by extending your arm as if you were shaking a hand. Isn't it a little unsettling? With your palm facing down, turn your wrist at a 10-degree angle off the vertical. Is it more pleasant?
Now consider where the other party's hand is. Less comfortable and natural. You have taken the upper hand.
Bowden suggests that we put the other party at a physical disadvantage when we have the "upper hand" in a handshake. We have "one-upped" him, lowered his status, and now he may be fleeing from us or fighting us. But there's more.
If we push our upper hand, along with our colleague's hand, closer toward his Truth Plane, the person will become more passive.
His unconscious mind knows he has been compromised. It will wait for further instructions from the higher-status individual (you, in this case). Of course, by learning this technique, we can use the opposite version to boost the other person's status.
Doing so instantly engages them since it provides such a pleasant experience. We've given in to the power of positive impact.
Lesson 6: Inside the Enemy Tent
Whether you're a "computer geek" selling a product or service to a business of "suits," a junior salesperson on the phone with your boss, or a young woman giving a presentation to a group of middle-aged men, you're bound to end up inside the enemy's tent.
The goal is to make sure you have the appropriate status to hold your own and move the transaction forward. So, starting with the physical behavior of that group, how might we make our way into the tribe's culture?
Bowden recommends employing open gestures, listening, gently smiling, and gentle nodding of the head to notice behaviors and demonstrate that you respect their position (and traditions). While he argues that we do not have to participate in the customers' activities, we must acknowledge them.
Bowden advises that we maintain a strong presence in the center of the Door Plane and in the Truth Plane while engaging in any behaviors that may feel strange. We have a better chance of looking nonjudgmental this way.
We should also pay attention to how individuals physically greet and show themselves to one another.
Alpha personalities are assertive and prefer to stand tall. They exude their presumption of authority.
Subordinates will shift places to keep the alpha in front of the Door Plane and in a stable state.
To preserve our own position, we must watch and mimic the other members of the group since this will improve our connection with the decision-makers. We must be careful not to exceed the rank we want to be accepted into the hierarchy.
Lesson 7: Dress Code
Finally, a few comments regarding the clothing code: Mirror + one! It's never easy to blend in with a tribe by adhering to the clothing code.
Bowden provides us a simple piece of advice: hang around outside the tribe's area and observe the members' attire. Adjust your wardrobe to more closely resemble the clothing worn by others in their environment.
A decent rule of thumb for a salesman, he says, is to dress within one notch of the tribe's style. If you're meeting with a frontline staff that's dressed in polo shirts and khakis, add a blazer to give yourself a bit more gravitas, but not so much that you seem out of place.
Keep your style near enough to the house to avoid interfering with people's ability to see you.
If you don't feel comfortable wearing what they wear, or if you make a mistake and show up too far away or missing a key element, use your body language to accept their attire and indicate that you're at peace in the scenario.