While being educated and knowing your inventory are essential parts of being a good salesperson, the way you present yourself physically can be just as important in communicating confidence and authority, as well as empathy. Here are a few tips for having the right body language.

Prep for success with a power pose.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that holding our bodies in expansive high power poses — hands above head in a “V” shape, shoulders back — for two minutes increases our testosterone, which is linked to power and self-esteem, and decreases our cortisol, which is linked to stress. One trial showed that job candidates who stood in a power pose like this for two minutes before their interviews were 80 percent more likely to be hired than those who sat in contracted positions.

Contained power can be more convincing.

Forbes columnist Carol Kinsey Goman writes that if you’re an extrovert with a larger-than-life communication style, your over-exuberance can overwhelm or exhaust an audience. To maximize your authority, minimize your movements. Take a deep breath, bring your gestures down to waist level, and pause before making a key point. When you appear calm and contained, you look more powerful.

Shaking hands helps you connect with someone right away.

Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue, says Goman. Touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for even less than a second creates a human bond. A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them.

Avoid putting your hands in your pockets or crossing your arms.

This tip comes from AskMen.com columnist Andrew Moore. We tend to hide our hands when we’re nervous. Instead, place your hands on your hips – a far more confident posture.

Show customers you’re listening intently to them by angling your head slightly to the side.

This can also be used to show sympathy, writes Kingpin Social contributor Amanda Timmins. Finally, tilting your ear toward someone can indicate that you are hanging on every word.


This article was originally published in May 2014.

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