© Thornhill Consultancy



Train your body to improve sales – Nov 2003


Training your body can improve your sales performance just as much as training your mind.

Most sales reps would see their role as trying to influence the buying behaviour of their customers. What differentiates the most successful sales reps are the strategies they follow and the things they do to achieve that influence.

These strategies are ways of solving customer’s problems in a way which helps the sales rep with access and developing relationships. For example one high performer developed some planning software and a book to help write practice business plans for her customers.

Another personally ran training courses to help his customers cope with the massive structural changes in a department that they were worried about. He said:” It gives us more credibility and it gives me access to the customers. I never have a problem getting access to key people”

One high performer acted as a process consultant for getting funds. She said:” It always comes back to going through the right channel and being properly prepared to put the right case forward for funding. It is not just a quick phone call to ask for the money. It can be a real struggle so I act as a sort of process consultant”.

How do high performers think, feel and interact with others

What the high performer research has shown is that high performers follow these kinds of strategies and do these kinds of behaviours more frequently and more consistently that lower performers. Average or lower performers may know about them. High performers do them.

Hence the research aimed to discover the root of these differences in motivation and aptitude. One of the things we did was analyse a video recording of an interview with each high performer and from this produce a Biometric analysis of their unconscious pattern of body movement.

From research, it has been shown, that different types of these unconscious movements are linked to what we think and how we interact and relate to others. So the assessor can count the incidence of specific thought processes, types of interaction and ways of relating to others that are characteristic of the individual’s natural approach in everyday life.

The eleven factors that differentiated higher from lower performers covered all three areas, Thinking, Interaction and Relating to Others. Together they form a performance template against which individuals can be compared either for selection or to identify those areas where development will have most impact on performance.

In this first article I am going to concentrate on the third area, Relating to Others, and what differentiated high performers from the norm. We found that they were more natural and relaxed. They were more sensitive to customer’s feelings and personal issues and they empowered the customer to take more initiative in the sales process. Finally they were more confident and comfortable with themselves in the role and in new situations.

How can you improve your ability in some of these areas?

Being Natural

How natural and relaxed you are perceived to be is based, in part at least, on how much Integrated Movement accompanies what you say. This is naturally occurring body movement when a posture (full body movement) leads into a gesture (partial body movement) rather than postures or gestures on their own.

In the research we found a strong positive correlation between rates of Integrated Movement (IM) and performance. As an example, the high performer average of IM was more than 75 per hour with a high of 250 per hour whereas lower performers tended to score in the region of 25 per hour.

If you have a high IM production rate you are likely to be seen as authentic and the same from one occasion to another. At first meetings you are more likely to gain the trust of buyers more quickly so that they in turn will give you more information about themselves and trust you with more valuable information.

If you have a low rate of IM production it doesn’t mean you are more likely to lie to customers although if you did your IM production rate would fall further still. It does mean that you will be more difficult to get to know because there are less IMs for the buyers and colleagues to take in and add to what you say.

How can you increase your Perceived Naturalness?

You cannot fake IMs, so to increase them you have to create the conditions for an increase. This means relaxing, being happy with yourself and who you are and not being tempted to play a role however well meaning your intentions.

Sometimes, low IMs can indicate low self-esteem. It is too big a subject to go into here but people with high self esteem usually have a strong sense of self, they like themselves, they can recognise and manage the way they feel and they have a clear sense of purpose. There are plenty of books to coach you in this area. Try the ‘NLP Coach’ by Ian McDermott and Wendy Jago.

Try doing a short ‘Progressive Muscle Relaxation’ (PMR) exercise at key moments of the day such as sitting in the car before meeting a new customer or waiting to give a presentation.

You can download lots of PMR exercises off the internet if you search under relaxation exercises. Look for one that lasts no more than 5 minutes. Try

Being Confident

We all recognise the importance of confidence to cope with the inevitable rejection in selling, particularly in a new business role. This is not the same as how extrovert we are. It is more to do with an inner sense of comfort or discomfort in new situations and has been shown to have a link to individual movement patterns.

Try this exercise:-

Think back to a moment when you experienced real rejection or failure. What did your body do? Did your shoulders fall, your head and eyes drop and did your frame shrink as you expelled the air from your lungs with a long sigh.

Now think back to another and happier moment when you achieved a major goal or won a big order or were praised for winning a challenge. Did your shoulders rise, your chest expand, and your head lift and were your eyes bright and lifted to the heavens.

Scientists believe that the way our bodies ‘grow’ with comfort and ‘shrink’ with discomfort is connected to built-in rewards systems to encourage the new born infant to breathe and spring into life. This reward system is hard wired and stays with us throughout our lives.

In our research using Biometric profiling we found that, with higher performers, ‘growing’ accompanied what they said 40% of the time compared with lower performers where it accompanied what they said 25% of the time.

How can you increase your confidence by growing?

First stand up with your arms at your side and with relaxed opened shoulders.
Imagine you have a piece of string attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you upwards.

Pause without shrinking. Now, without straining your muscles try to grow a bit taller and hold onto it for five seconds and relax, against without shrinking. Try again and relax and once more to see how much more you can grow while still keeping your shoulders open. Remember how this feels.

Breathing from the diaphragm

With your feet slightly apart check that you have a good posture with your hips tucked under and your back straight. Test your posture by checking to see if you can go up and down on your toes without moving forward or backwards.

Now, put your right hand on your diaphragm and take a deep even breath through your nose (not your mouth). If you are breathing correctly your hand should feel your diaphragm expanding. Do this 3 to 5 times and notice any difference. (Get more information by searching under Diaphragmatic Breathing on the internet).

Use these growing and breathing exercises to get you into a confident and resourceful state when you feel you need it.

For example, before a difficult customer meeting or after a negative customer call to make sure your state does not spill over to the next call.

Finally, the whole body can grow. So remember to smile and see how your mouth can grow.

If you would like to introduce your company to the research then click here.

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