Non-verbal communication techniques that help to sell

Jul 27, 2022

Man in suit offering his hand out

When it comes to selling cars, you need to be able to communicate – that’s a no-brainer, right? But communicating is more than simply being able to talk to a customer. While having a way with words is fundamental to your pitch, those in the automotive industry need to work on their non-verbal communication techniques as well. 

What are non-verbal communication techniques?

In short, non-verbal communication techniques refer to effectively communicating in different ways other than by actually speaking. This includes the likes of actively listening, your body language or even your hand gestures. All of these will optimise you as a salesperson, helping you to better understand what each customer wants, which will ultimately result in you being able to offer them the most suitable vehicle or service to best suit their needs. Improving your non-verbal communication skills and techniques will undoubtedly take your sales pitch up a gear.

Why are non-verbal communication techniques so important?

Simply put, for your dealership to successfully sell cars or services, you need to understand the shopper and the sales process definitely shouldn’t be a one-way conversation, which means you doing more than just talking.

In fact, we all know just how important it is for a customer to feel valued and respected. You want them to feel like you’re there to help, not just sell, which is where non-verbal communication skills come in. Communicating with shoppers in different ways other than speaking, will not only help drive sales at your dealership but boost customer retention too. 

Examples of non-verbal communication techniques

It’s important to note that non-verbal communication skills should be used to complement the power of talking. Use non-verbal communication techniques, along with persuasive, empathetic and affable language for the ultimate sales pitch.

Here are some examples of key non-verbal communication techniques that should be adopted to help sell more in the automotive industry:

Active listening 

There’s no denying it, active listening is key to building those strong connections and retained relationships with customers.   

But what is active listening? It’s taking the time to clearly listen to a shopper and what’s more, showing that you’re interested. That means no zoning out, no random nodding along but instead, being present and visibly proving that to the customer. 

In a recent study based on an analysis of 6,200 sales conversations at American car dealerships, figures showed that top-performing salespeople actively listened to customers 179 percent more than bottom-performing staff. Doing this ultimately led to more dealership visits and better still, a noticeable rise in sales numbers. According to that same study, those who actively listened used that customer’s information to provide customers with relevant product or service recommendations. 

Ways that you can show you are actively listening include:

  • Eye contact
  • Smiling
  • Mirroring the customer’s facial expressions
  • Minimal or no fidgeting
  • No peeking at the clock or watch
  • Nodding your head – when appropriate
  • If sitting down, leading forward rather than slouching

You should also consider taking notes when necessary, asking well-timed relevant questions and even briefly summarizing out loud what the customer has said.

Body language

Being considerate of body language is key when it comes to selling cars. And we’re not just talking about your body language, it’s equally as vital for you to read the body language of the customer too.

Being aware of your body language means:

  • Maintaining a relaxed and calm posture
  • Avoiding crossing the arms or crossed legs, as this will make you appear closed off 
  • Once again, eye contact again is key to building trust and confidence between you and the customer
  • Make sure your body is facing the customer, and avoid turning away from them

When it comes to a customer’s body language, look out for these signs: 

  • If you are sitting down and they are leaning forward, then this indicates they are interested in the information and better still, welcoming your pitch – so keep going, you’re obviously doing something right
  • If they are hiding their hands under the table, or sitting on them, then this could be a sign of nerves or concern
  • Likewise, if they show their hands, then (unless crossed) this is a sign that they feel comfortable and relaxed with the conversation
  • If they fold their arms or cross their legs, then this is a sure sign they are feeling defensive
  • If a customer rubs their eyes when talking to you, it might be that they’re feeling stressed or anxious
  • If they have pursed lips, or seem to smirk, then this could indicate they are either not impressed by the pitch, dissatisfied or even angry 

Being able to read and respond to these body language cues – both negative and positive – is a skill in itself. If the customer is bursting with positive cues, then have confidence in your pitch and continue. However, if you spot negative body language, it’s important that you take a mental step back, pause and see how you can bring the conversation around to make it more positive.   

It’s all in the smile

Never doubt how much your expression matters during a sale. After all, a smile can go a long way during your sales pitch. Start and end the conversation with a smile – and smile when appropriate and necessary throughout. 

Avoid tight lips and expressionless mouths, as this immediately makes you appear closed off and unapproachable.

What’s more, be conscious of the story your expression tells. Try not to wrinkle your nose, frown and eye-roll – as doing they can quickly tarnish the connection you have with a customer, as you could appear rude and disrespectful. 

Watch your gestures

If there’s one thing every car salesperson finds themselves needing to work on, it’s recognizing the importance of hand movements and gestures. Inevitably, we all like to fidget, especially when we’re listening to somebody else speak – we’re only human after all. But when you’re a car salesperson, fidgeting and what seems like harmless hand gestures can actually damage your pitch by distracting the customer or unintentionally making you seem uninterested in the shopper:

  • Avoid yawning – although this might sound obvious, if you’re tired, you’d be forgiven for wanting to yawn. Be careful though, this is a red flag sign that you’re bored or uninterested in what the customer is saying
  • Don’t bite your nails – you want to appear confident, and biting your nails screams anxiety, worry or distress, which will naturally make the customer feel uncomfortable
  • Don’t play with your pen – as tempting as it is, clicking or bouncing your pen can easily distract the customer, or even annoy them

Instead, ensure your posture is upright (sitting or standing), your hands move freely, appearing relaxed and you observe personal space (paying particular attention to different cultures and what they might feel appropriate).

Contact, but only when necessary

A small dose of physical contact (when necessary and appropriate) is required. We’re talking about a firm but not overpowering handshake to greet the customer, and gently touching their forearm during your pitch, to show trust and integrity.

Show warmth, even via video

In today’s world, where virtual shopping is becoming more and more popular, the chances are, that customers are likely to be interacting with your dealership in at least some way, digitally.

For SnapCell customers, interacting and engaging with shoppers through the power of video couldn’t be easier. It might be that you’re creating video footage of your staff or dealership to enhance a sale, or that you’re directly communicating with shoppers using SnapCell Live. However you’re using video, it’s vital that you remember to practice non-verbal communication techniques whenever possible. After all, just because you’re behind a screen and not meeting customers in person, the fact remains, that there’s more to your sale technique than what you’re saying.

Here’s how you can use non-verbal communication techniques while using SnapCell:

  • Take a step back, so the customer can see more than just your face – show off positive body language and hand gestures
  • Don’t look at yourself, look at the camera – this is a difficult one to master, but try to avoid staring at yourself on the screen and instead look at the camera. Think of this as your way of making eye contact with a digital customer, which – as it does when you’re speaking to a shopper in-person – will enhance your relationship
  • Wave and smile – remember, your facial expressions remain fundamental, even when you’re appearing via video. Don’t be afraid to start and end the conversation with a friendly wave

Are you ready to boost your sales pitch?

With 75 per cent of automobile shoppers admitting that video has influenced their buying decision or shopping habits in some way, it’s vital for dealerships to be weaving video into their future sales and marketing strategies. SnapCell is your one-stop shop for producing professional-looking videos to suit all purposes. Whether it’s two-way communication with customers, showcasing your dealership through a virtual tour or generating engaging content for your social media channels, SnapCell is the ultimate video creation tool. Schedule your free SnapCell demo.

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