Stop Annoying Your Prospects by Learning to Read Digital Body Language

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Nicholas Little
Nicholas Little





If someone analyzed every single script salespeople use when they’re calling prospects to check where they are in the pipeline, I could almost guarantee the recommended soundbites would boil down to two of our most despised phrases: “I’m just checking in” or “I just wanted to touch base.”

There are endless posts about creative ways to rephrase those same words. They will tell you to “Erase those old phrases from your memory and use these instead,” when their new suggestions are essentially identical.

What really replaces “just checking in” and “touching base”? If every celebrity sales leader, business owner, and blogger is begging you to stop pestering them and their colleagues with unwanted follow up calls on every day of the week that ends in “-day,” what do you do?

When you’re in a sit-down meeting with a number of clients and could pitch face to face, you can easily read their body language. Are they playing with their phones and look bored, or are they sitting up, asking questions, and double-checking their printouts? Humans have spent the past millennia evolving our senses, so we’re instinctively good at reading emotions in other humans we’re in the same room with.

However, when you only know your prospect as,, you’ll have no idea if his short reply to your initial email -- “Looks great- I’ll give it some thought” -- really means “Not interested, go away” or “I want to learn more about this.” 

We’re in the business of educating sales teams how to read digital body language. No, we don’t mean dissecting the meaning of every word in Phil’s “Looks great- I’ll give it some thought” reply. We’re talking about learning how they’re going over your content, and matching the information you gain in your email client to what you would learn in the meeting room.

Digital body language is essentially the aggregate of the digital activity seen from an individual, as described by Steven Woods in his book on the subject in 2009. Here’s a sneak peek -- 88% of buyers don’t want a face-to-face meeting anymore. This doesn’t necessarily translates into a dislike of reps, but these days more and more work is conducted online, and therefore there’s more keeping your prospects in their seats instead of meeting you for coffee.

This is why inside sales has exploded in popularity over the last decade. 

Working the phones and emailing leads is how many startups and larger companies are pushing through to get in touch with their prospects. Reps invest less upfront time in connecting with prospects than if they had to fly across the country to meet a new contact, which means many inside sales organizations are able to contact dozens of prospects a day. How does your sales team not get caught up in the endless stream of contacts and emails, and pull workable, interested prospects out of the noise? 

Our sales reps do this by reading digital body language.

If I email Phil back with a proposal, I won’t gain any insight unless I understand what pages of my presentation or proposal he’s actually looked at. For example, when one of my SDRs sends out a prospecting email and their lead spends more time looking at the presentation slides regarding Fileboard’s screensharing software than any other part of the deck, my SDR’s next call to that lead is going to chiefly include a discussion of that software -- an identified point of interest to that lead. 

But digital body language goes beyond tracking engagement with a document. Tracking prospects’ social media posts, pages visited on your website, and their company blog are all equally valuable ways to leverage online information to create a profile that reveals what your prospects are interested in.

When we onboard new SDRs, we teach them how to read these signs to inform how they pitch prospects. They don’t need to ask, “What are you interested in?”, because with their ability to read digital body language, they already know the answer to that question with each and every lead.

Instead, they can ask more targeted follow-up questions like, “What were you hoping to achieve when you downloaded X piece of content?” or, “I saw you visited Y pages on our website this morning -- what information were you hoping to find?”

Reading digital body language correctly isn’t just going to help your team out; it’s helping salespeople across the world become more efficient and have more meaningful conversations. Realizing when you’re holding some dead leads and moving on quicker enables your reps to spend time with interested prospects. 

As more team members access the DBL of their prospects, we’re generating more data points to make smarter decisions about our buyer’s journeys. The bottom line is: Our sales team can learn what their prospects actually want before they ever connect, enabling them to deliver even more value once they do.

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