Body Language: Sell Yourself Before You Sell Your Company

fat guy on beach

Have you ever noticed how some people you warm up to immediately after meeting with and others — something just wasn’t quite right about them.  You can’t put your finger on why you feel this way.  The short answer?  Inherent survival instincts.


I believe we are all born with survival instincts that are passed on from in our genetics.  Some have a better grasp on these instincts than others.  It boils down to being in tune with your surroundings and who you are, and also watching, listening, and paying close attention to subtle clues when encountering others when offering your services.  Photo:

Facial expression and body language with help you factor in any clues or reservations you have about someone.  Establishing eye contact says that you are genuinely interested in the conversation and establishes honestly with the potential prospect.  These guidelines can be applied to all interactions with others; whether you are out contracting, selling your next job, or meeting your kids’ schoolteacher.

What does all of this have to do with selling yourself as a contractor and convincing the prospective customer to choose you?  Everything!

Here’s how reading body language will help you gain insight:

Nibbling their lips. People do this when they are attempting to comfort themselves.  Perhaps when you tell them your price!  Or you’ll do it when faced with rejection.

Scratching your nose. People will do this when telling a lie according to the experts.  Don’t do this at all when you’re at a customer’s home.  I’m not too sure if I agree with the experts on this one.  To err on the side of caution, keep the hands from the face.  That is, if you are lying. 🙁

Darting Glances. A lot of eye movement can mean that you aren’t focused enough on the client’s project when discussing it with them.  It could also mean that you are deceptive in the presentation.  Direct eye contact throughout the meeting with them speaks to your sincere nature of thee Topic — their Home.

Nodding your head. When the client says something that you are in complete agreement with, the “3-nod rule” should apply.  You simply nod your head in three nod bursts.  It says to them loud and clear ” I’m with you and understand!”  On the flip side, nod just once and you appear rigid and unwavering; you appear not open to their ideas.

Smiling. We all try to keep the smile showing, but people that do this for more than 5 seconds and only with their lips could be faking it.  Also, when a person shows their teeth when they smile it may mean they are trying to show you they are smiling at you, but if you look closer, it appears like they are clinching their teeth; almost grimacing.  A real smile involves the eye muscles, so it is safe to assume that when both the eyes and the mouth are both involved, it’s genuine.

Blinking. When a customer starts blinking more than normal when meeting with them and discussing their project, it could signal they are stressing out.  At this point you must calm any fears or reservations about what you just talked about.  Get them back in a buying mode and continue to sell the job.

Closing your eyes. I do this all the time when talking to someone when I don’t want to be thrown off my point by any visual stuff going on in the room.  People will sense you are collecting thoughts.  You must, however, re-establish eye contact or else the prospect may think you are lying to them when you close your eye for any prolonged periods (or think you got a screw loose..).

“???…”Screw loose Mario

Lowering your gaze. If the customer or contractor does this, they may be seeking empathy.  Humbleness goes a long way with the customer.  They sense that you aren’t there just to preach and school them of what you know, but that you are open to their input and ideas also. Photo:

Narrowing the red parts of your lips. My wife said I look mean when I shave all the facial hair off my face.  I don’t think I look mean; but with the mustache gone, my lips do appear thin; like I’m holding something inward.  They say narrowing your lips makes you look angry and rigid, so I’ll try not to do that when out selling a job.

Tilting your head. You should do this when listening to the homeowner’s concerns.  It says you are really paying attention to every detail they are saying, and you wish to hear more.

Raising eyebrows. Do this to show the homeowner that you are completely interested in their project.  Over-doing it will look fake;  they’ll be able to sense that too.  When the homeowner does it frequently, you’re almost certain to gain the job.

Looking up or to the side. When discussing the scope of work and price with them, if you see a lot of this, it may mean they just haven’t figured you out yet and you may not be the contractor for their project.  It’s almost if they are looking to the sky for an answer! or over to one of their ears to listen closely for a reply.  Simply convince them you’re their guy.

Standing with your leg together. This is almost reminiscent of a soldier standing at attention.  If the customer does this, it may mean you’ve got their respectful submission or yielding on your judgment of their project.  You now must ask for their project because they are thinking it.  Humbleness is key.

Standing with your legs apart. This stance signals dominance and determination.  Even more so with hands on the hips.  Some people are receptive to this while others are turned off.  If you sense the client is a dominating soul, put your’s on the back burner and let them lead a little.  Or else, you’ll bump heads during the interview.  Remember: you are asking them for their project.

Angling yourself. Most people position their bodies towards the person that captured their attention.  If you don’t see this subtle clue, they may not be interested in what you’re selling.

Shifting your weight from side to side and front to back. This is a comforting movement and could say you are between many unsettling thoughts, back and forth thinking and trying to calm any reservations about someone or something.

Massaging your forehead or earlobes. You do these actions when you are attempting to counter feelings of uneasiness or vulnerability.  It’s a coping mechanism.  It’s like trying to touch your brain and ask it for an answer!  Massaging the ears is similar to adjusting the antennae to tune in with the whole picture.

Crossing the arms. People say this shows anger, but I think it sometimes shows how a person comforts and supports themselves.  If they do this most of the time; not just when you tell the homeowner your price, it is safe to assume that this is just their normal stance.  On the flip-side, I would never cross my arms during an interview because they may take it as defiance.

Flailing your arms. When speaking, you do a lot of arm-hand movements.  You bring the presentation to life! Over-do-it and you’ll get kicked right out of their home.

Hiding your hands. Whadda you got to hide?  It is what I always unconsciously think when I see this.  Unless it is very cold in the building, keep the hands visible where I can see them.  You’d be surprised at what people notice.  The customer thinks the same way.

Picking at your nails. You do this in an uncomfortable situation.  It’s like the other person in the room is making you not want to look at them. You direct your attention downward to the nails.  If you are holding the hand up high and examining your nails though, this shows a sign of pride and overconfidence.  I wouldn’t do it.  Remember humility?

Pointing toes toward the door. This goes without saying that if the homeowner is pointing their feet towards the door, either they want to leave, or they want you to leave.  And we all know they aren’t leaving their home…

Now where did I put those car keys?

hack fall

Photo: unknown

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