"I felt good about (him, her, company). It just felt right." Now there's a phrase you will commonly hear when women are talking to other women when describing why they chose one contractor over another.

Her women friends will understand completely what she's talking about and it won't strike them as illogical. It's almost comical to imagine a man explaining to a man or a woman that he made a decision because "it just felt right." And, if he did, he would likely speak of "gut instinct," laced with a liberal dose of logical explanations.

So, do women abandon logic and make decisions solely on feelings? Of course not.

Women, just as men, use a blend of logic and feelings to make important decisions. The bottom line is, women inherently trust their feelings (intuition) more than men do. And, experience has proven she is on target. No wonder Mr. Homeowner turns to Mrs. Homeowner and says, "What do you think? Did you notice anything?"

I've been speaking on this subject since 1993 and this I know: A man trusts his wife's intuition as much as she does.

As my good friend Aaron York Sr., says, "All I have to do to get the order is show them (women) concern, ability, and satisfy their questions with enthusiasm, intelligence, and courtesy and I leave with a down payment." Yes! And Aaron propagates all these qualities and characteristics with more than mere words and it's very good for business.

Body Language

Researchers who study communication effectiveness have documented some very important and compelling statistics about how the process works:

  • 58 percent of your message is conveyed through non-verbal signals.

  • 35 percent of your message is conveyed through the tone of your voice.

  • 7 percent of your message is conveyed through the actual words.

    Are you unwittingly sending up red flags to her intuition? What are some of those things that give her the sense that something isn't quite right? More than likely it's those oh-so-powerful silent signals, the non-verbal signals or body language.

    I have reviewed miles of video tape of sales presentations and there are certain silent signals, behaviors that are present when someone:

  • is uncomfortable about revealing certain information;

  • has reservations about what they are going to say;

  • is unsure how best to communicate what they want to say; and/or

  • is concerned how the prospective client will receive the message.

    They may be as honest as the day is long and yet they will exhibit some or all of the following behaviors:

  • Avoid direct eye contact.

  • Rub the back of their neck.

  • Rub behind or in front of their ear.

  • Touch their nose frequently.

  • Touch their cheek frequently.

    Net result: The customer senses doubt and uncertainty. Can I trust this person? Is his/her company trustworthy?

    Be Prepared

    Most people will have an overall sense that something isn't quite right, even though you may have said all the right words. Often they will not readily put labels on these behaviors unless they are pronounced. Now, for goodness sake, if your nose itches, scratch it! There's a clear difference between a quick nose scratch and the constant rubbing of one's nose.

    Making an important decision brings a level of stress and it's hard work. Avoid planting the seeds of doubt and uncertainty. Plan, prepare, and practice in order to comfortably, confidently, and clearly respond to prospective clients questions.

    And remember what you hope they won't ask, they almost surely will. Be sure to get answers to those items you are unsure about. Get coaching from those who are successful in the areas where you are building skill and confidence. The Boy Scouts motto is a good one to keep in mind, "Be prepared."

    Whether experienced or beginning a career in sales, it's natural to feel some butterflies. Remind yourself to smile often. Relax your hands. People tend to clench their fists and toes when they are tense.

    When you relax your hands, it will trigger you and the rest of your body to relax - even your toes! The butterflies will fly in formation and you can actually hear and pay attention to your clients.

    Table Manners

    On another subject, but still related to projecting confidence, if you want to see doubt and uncertainty in action, just go to a dinner or awards banquet. Sit down to dinner at a round table and watch those sneaky peeks. Which napkin is yours, the one on the left or the right? And, is that my water or your water? And, who cares anyway? As a business professional you care because you know good manners are always in style and very good for your business.

    So let's begin with a few simple rules that will work whether you are attending a casual business dinner or a lavish one:

  • Solid/dry things to the left, i.e., napkin, bread plate.

  • Liquids to the right, i.e., water, wine, coffee/tea.

    When everyone is served, then begin eating. And please pass the bread - to your right. Bon appétit!

    Sharon Roberts is a consultant who specializes in selling to women and couples. Please send your questions or comments to Sharon@r2assoc.com.

    Publication date: 10/03/2005