Body Language Errors That Retail Staff Should Avoid

Studies show that over 50% of all communication is non-verbal.  In other words, body language is critical to our success – or failure – as a retail sales associate.  Great non-verbal communication makes us seem more trusting and helps us to get our customers emotionally involved with our products – resulting in higher sales.

Great body language helps salespeople communicate with their customers, makes them seem more in control and helps to close the sale.  But poor non-verbal communication can leave us with egg on our face and could result in frustrated customers who do not engage or buy from us.  So with that in mind, let’s look at some physical activities that you should train your retail staff to avoid.


Body Language for Retail Sales Reps

Lack of eye contact – Not making eye contact indicates either a lack of interest – or even worse – intent to deceive.  That does not mean that you want to get into a staring contest with your customer.  It is OK and even desirable to break eye contact periodically, but failing to ever make contact will result in customer distrust.

Selling Belly to Belly – While it is important to be able to make eye contact with your customers, you want to avoid invading their personal space.  Stand slightly to the side and keep 18-36 inches between you and the customer.

Touching the Face – This can create a sense of distrust with the customer.  In addition, it can be unsanitary… Remember, you need to be able to shake the customer’s hand once you have closed the sale.

Unnatural Facial Expressions – You can always tell when someone is forcing a smile, can’t you?  So avoid the “painted-on” smile.  Instead, make sure you are acting in a genuine manner – after all you should be happy to engage with every customer.

Scratching Your Head – This is a dead giveaway that you either are unconfident in your product knowledge or your recommendation.  Instead, keep your hands in front of your body using an open palm to show friendliness.

Folded Your Arms Across Your Chest – This is a big problem because it indicates to customers walking in the door that you do not want to engage with them.  If you do it when speaking with someone it can indicate impatience or anger.

Giving the Customer the Finger – We are not speaking about THE finger, but instead the index finger.  Imagine that a customer walks up to you and asks you to help them locate something and then you point in that direction and tell them where it is.  Aren’t you telling them that they are not very important?  Instead, escort them to the product and start a conversation!

Using Your Phone on the Sales Floor – Take a look around the next time you are shopping.  Many sales reps are constantly checking their phone, texting or reading email.  What are they telling you?…  That their phone is more important than you are.


Training retail staff on proper body language habits will go a long way toward improving their sales results and your customers’ experience.  Good body language habits is just one of the things we teach in our Top Check Retail Sales Training courses.  Customers who have invested in these cost effective seminars and online sales training courses have seen sustained sales increases of 15-25%, so contact us about having us training your team!