Ah, the lovely couple - the girl with her shy smile, the beaming groom-to-be. They’ve said they want to buy an engagement ring and you’ve shown them some of this year’s best sellers, but so far, you’re not getting a sale. When you pull out the vintage Monique Lhuillier hexagon baguette diamond engagement ring in platinum, she gasps. Is this the ring they’ll choose or will they walk out the door? How do you know when someone is ready to buy? Is there a science to it or is it a matter of luck? Furthermore, can you use your own body language to influence a sale?


There is some well-defined science behind it, the science and psychology of body language, which represents a significant portion of interpersonal communication. In fact, it’s the majority of human communication, comprising 50-80% of it. Understand what your customers are really feeling, not just what they are saying and you will be better equipped to make a sale at the right time.

“If you can improve your own body language and learn how to read your buyers’, it will help you make more sales. It’ll also tell you when to get out the door." - Robert Phipps, Body Language Expert.

Here’s how to evaluate your customers’ body language:

Watch their pace - Are they moving fast or slow? Walking quickly from item to item indicates that they could be in browsing mode. If they slow down and study items with interest, this signals that they could be in buying mode.

Look at their eyes - Do they make eye contact with you or avoid looking at you directly? Avoiding eye contact is akin to telling you that they don’t want to be bothered. It can be their own personal “Do Not Disturb” sign. Making mutual eye contact is usually permission to connect.

Check their posture - Are their arms folded or closely tucked in at their sides? This shows you they might not be open to you. Are their bodies turned towards or away from you? “Away” can symbolize that they are “giving you the cold shoulder”. “Towards” can imply a desire for interaction and more information.

Observe hand gestures - Closed fists often indicate disinterest. Excited gestures often imply that a person is motivated by a prospect.

Watch for subtle cues - When someone absentmindedly feels for his or her wallet or purse, that’s a good sign they are ready to buy.

Now, what should you be conveying with your unspoken language to influence the process? This article explains how your body language could be telling your customers to go away and this article explains how body language can affect sales.

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Here’s how you can create a feeling of trust and stability:

Mirror the customer’s posture and facial expressions - This intuitively lets your customer know you are on the same page as them and will not try to pressure them into doing something they would be uncomfortable with.

Smile - According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, a genuine smile creates a real sense of trustworthiness. It also helps form your customer’s opinion of you whether or not they are consciously aware of it.

Remove phycial barriers - Come away from behind your counter, it creates a feeling of approachability. If you stand by your customers they will feel that you are on the same side as they are and that you are looking out for their interests. Having any sort of blockade between you and your customers creates subtle feelings of insecurity on their part.

Speak slowly - Keep your words paced and your tone, low. This allows room for questions and comments on the customer’s part. This signals to them that you feel confident that their purchase could be the perfect fit for them. You are so sure of it that you are even willing to invite their questions.

Do not fidget, touch your face, speak fast or turn your back to the customer - These all signal a lack of confidence on your part.

What sort of body language have you observed customers demonstrating in your store? How does your body language help or hurt when it comes to your customers? Share your experiences here.