Is There Any Truth in: A Simple Smile Can Help You Sell.
My entire life, I’ve been fascinated by human nature and behavior. My own as well as others. I missed my calling to be a psychologist! So instead I chose sales. That’s a comparable replacement..right?
As my selling career rolled on, I became mystified about one aspect of selling. Take two sales people with similar sales training and skill sets, why could one close the sale while the other walked away with nothing.
Both sales people followed the same sales process, asked the same compelling questions, closed the sale the same way, yet one won the sale and the other lost. Why?
If selling was simply about following a sales process, shouldn’t all sales people be successful who follow the same selling process? Sounds logical right?
BUT have you ever walked away from a sale totally confused on why you couldn’t close it? Have you ever just scratched your head in wonderment? How could this be? I did everything the same way as the last sale I won.
Simple Smile Can Help You Sell.
Here’s My Recent Story:
This happened to me recently, not in the context during a sale, but nonetheless it caused me to pause and reflect back to lost sales. Here’s the story.
During the same week, two different people at two different events approached me and asked if everything was all right with me.
I must admit the question surprised me.
“Why sure, I’m groovy” I answered in a quizzical fashion.
“You look and sound irritated” came the answer.
She said during the workshop my expressions seemed to indicate I was upset and I sounded upset too. I thanked her for making me aware of my facial and voice expressions. Obviously, I was oblivious that my facial expressions were deceiving me and my voice. The lines in my forehead have burrowed deeper due to age, but I didn’t know it was sending a signal I didn’t intend to project! Could my facial expressions effect my voice too?
A few days later at a networking event, a good friend, who was also the coordinator of the event, asked a similar question.
Now my antenna is on high alert. Two people in one week asking the same question. What’s up with my face and voice!
When I pressed my friend for a deeper answer, she soothingly said…”You’re usually all smiles and giggles, but tonight you’re all frowns and sound down. Are you feeling ok?” Whoa…ouch! (those damn facial wrinkles are sabotaging me and my voice!)
Was it really the facial wrinkles? No, of course not, but perhaps my facial expressions were affecting my voice. Compelled to find an answer, I dug into research.
Here’s What I Found.
John Ohala, Linguistic Professor at Berkley, did a rather intensive study on “The Acoustic Origin of the Smile”. From an anthropologist view point, you’re not smiling to look friendly, but to sound friendly.
In sales, how many times have you heard to keep a mirror on your desk. During a phone call, smile into the mirror, because it causes you to sound friendlier over the phone.
Well, back in 1980, John Ohala proved this to be true! You’re on the right track if you’re smiling, while on the phone, because you’re using your smile for its’ intended purpose…to sound friendly.
Sally Hogshead in her book Fascinate states
“A smile was the original social medium.”
She goes on to say..
Digital technology might introduce a new device every week, but from an evolutionary perspective, we’re still the same humans. We’re constantly searching each other for clues about emotions. (Case in point: the popularity of emoticons.)
The answer was staring me right into my frowning face. I stopped smiling! The unintended consequence was a change in my voice from friendly to irritated!
In my quest to be a serious sales educator and coach…I moved away from smiling, and replaced it with a frown. Why I subconsciously made the switch, I’m still uncovering. BUT in the meantime, I’m back to smiling!
If you’ve found yourself losing sales, I offer this suggestion, ask other people you trust to give you solid feedback about your facial expressions and voice tones.
As sales people, not only do your questions need to be compelling, but YOU need to be compelling too. You can fascinate your prospect each time you interact, by the warm tone of your voice, and by every twinkle of your expressions. You can’t do this if you’re not smiling.
Sound to simplistic?
Everyday you evaluate people based on a simple gesture…the handshake. Hundreds of unconscious impressions are made by extending a hand to a stranger or to a friend. In a flash, you make an evaluation of the person by how strong or weak they shake your hand. A strong handshake sends a signal of confidence. A weak handshake says timid.
In this age of technology, apps, CRM, Inbound processes, Outbound processes, sales enablement journeys, all designed to help a sales person be more productive, efficient, and sell more, take a step back. Take a step back from the sterile technology and instead step into the fascinating humanness of you as the sales person interacting with the humanness of the prospect.
What are the natural cues you’re sending? A firm or weak handshake; a smile or a frown, a warm tone or irritated sound.
In sales, you’re trying to get the prospect to “do” something, which is buy your product. You can’t win the sale, if you can’t persuade the prospect to engage with you. What kind of behaviors are you trying to evoke from the prospect? To inspire the buying behavior within the prospect, consider persuading and influencing with your natural cues; smile, tone of voice and handshake as examples.
Sally Hogshead states:
“If we use our natural cues, people will join us. If we don’t, they’ll walk away.”
Not using our natural cues in selling translates into a lost sale. Consider smiling more during the sale process!
Here’s the Challenge:
Examine the involuntary or voluntary body language cues you’re sending during the sales process, cold calling, and interacting when networking. Be consciously aware of your smile and the friendly tone it creates in your voice. Record yourself and analyze where you can improve your tone by adding a smile.
Dear Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how a smile has opened doors and closed sales for you! Will you share your story in the comments below. And if there is a subject you’d like for me to write about, let me know in the comment section. Please share so I’ll know if I’m giving you want you need to grow in selling savviness! (Is that a metaphor I just made up!)