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Nonverbal Cues to Spot When Selling Sessions

Let’s face it. You’re a personal trainer. Body language is kind of your thing, right? The same concepts that apply to make sure clients have a good form through a workout can be helpful in having more successful sales conversations. Nonverbal cues can be the key to becoming a better salesperson! We touched on this a little bit in the previous blog on how to sell more personal training sessions, but it’s important to dig into the non-verbal cues that you and the client use. As humans, we are creatures of habit and pattern. When we get to know these patterns in social cues, then we can direct sales meetings in a more positive direction.

Once again, let’s lay down the ground rules for sales conversations.

  1. Exude confidence, not ego
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Pick your battles wisely and do not waste your own time

What are nonverbal cues?

Since we were very young we have been taught that body language is important to send the right message. As children, we were taught to sit up straight and still and raise our hand to speak in class. These types of behaviors are the foundation for how we perceive body language in the professional world. Now, I’m not saying that you should raise your hand to speak in a sales meeting. You might get some really strange looks and not close any sales.

However, keep in mind how you are perceived by the client in the way you nonverbally express your sales pitch. In reality, sales meetings or conversations are just like a job interview. Except, the power essentially lies in your hands for getting the client or deciding if the client is not the right fit for you.

Cues Trainers Should Use

Using nonverbal cues can lead to much more successful sales conversations and even making sales with clients you already have. The body language you use when meeting with a prospective client can give them a good idea of how you carry yourself during training. 

First, refer to our rule #1 – exude confidence. Being confident when speaking about the personal training you provide needs to be supplemented with looking confident. Just like having your clients exercise with good form, you need to speak about your business with good form. 

A good practice for getting clients engaged in your pitch is giving them a little tour of the gym and/or showing them some examples of exercises you do with new clients. Tours or exercise demonstrations are good methods for breaking the body language barrier of sitting at a desk or table. This gives you a chance to engage the prospective client in what you’re saying and pull their attention away from making a decision until you have finished building the value.


Focus on having a good, comfortable posture throughout the conversation with a client. Leaning in a little bit and showing confidence in the way you sit or stand can make you seem more attractive.

Slouching and standing too rigidly show a lack of confidence and nervousness. Standing rigidly and moving rigidly can set an uncomfortable tone for the conversation. If you are presenting your business with this tone, then to clients, that will translate into personal training sessions. Be stern when pushing clients to achieve their fitness goals in the gym. However, you do not want to come off as unfriendly and negative in the sales meeting. 

Also, when making a sale, you want the prospective client to mirror your energy. If you are rigid and nervous, then your client will tend to act the same. Thus, the client will feel less inclined to secure a session with you.

Hand Gestures

They say that your arms and hands form the doorway to you, and in personal training, you are the business. Keep that doorway open during a sales pitch and be expressive. When you are excited and expressive about what you’re selling, that means you’re confident in it. Having your palms facing up and outwards while gesturing makes you more welcoming. Personal training is not just about planning and getting clients to workout and eat right. Half of the job is building up your client’s confidence in themselves by being their resource for motivation and positivity. Reflect that positive attitude in your body language.

Eye contact

Making eye contact is something everyone knows about when it comes to being assertive and showing confidence. I’m going to touch on it anyway in case you need a reminder to improve in that area.

Make eye contact while you speak to the client to show that you are professional, focused, and assertive. Nobody wants to invest in a dodgy person who is not secure in their ability to help them get the results they want. Confidence is so vital when training and being a coach to someone who wants to build their own confidence.

Let the person know that they are being heard using eye contact. Personal training requires very consistent two-way communication and it’s important for clients to know that their trainer is listening to them.

Another important note, if you’re not making consistent eye contact during sales conversations, then how will you be able to pick up on the client’s nonverbal cues?

Cues Clients Will Use

Reading these nonverbal cues from clients is essential in deciding when to close and when to walk away. Let’s reference rule #3 – pick your battles wisely. There are nonverbal signs that clients will use throughout the pitch that are good indicators of what they are about to ask or decide. Not reading these cues can result in missing the chance to address objections and solidify their thoughts against hiring you.

Eye Contact

When a client is not making eye contact with you or is refraining from engaging, then there is some build-up of cognitive dissonance that is happening. This is a huge indicator that it is nearing time to wrap up the pitch. At this point, it could be helpful to start asking them further questions about their fitness wants and needs. People love to talk about themselves whether they admit it or not and if you are not able to get their attention with what you’re selling, then get their attention by drawing the attention to them.

If the person is not really biting the hook after switching gears to asking them questions, then it is time to move on to the next client opportunity. This kind of dissonance affects you poorly in the long run because you want good client retention and testimonials. Trainers don’t need someone who will show up for two sessions and not put in their full effort. This takes up time that you could be spending on finding a client who will show up to sessions every week for a year.

Hand Gestures

Hand gestures are also important indicators of how willing the client is to listen. If they are mirroring your expressions and energy through the pitch, then you can continue building value and excitement for the prospect of training with them.

If they are crossing their arms, fidgeting with something like a phone or purse, 0r have their hands in their pockets, then they are showing you that they are not quite comfortable yet. They are probably still thinking about their decision. This is when you can get them physically engaged with the pitch. Hand them some sort of informational brochure about your business or client testimonials. Kinetic engagement with your pitch is extremely powerful in conveying information that can seal the deal with a new client. Drawing them away from the decision-making process is important to keep the pitch in your control.


Mirroring is an important psychological trait of someone who is interested in what you have to say. If you notice that a client is mimicking your cues, then start moving towards closing. This means that they find interest in the information and are probably apt to start speaking about what comes next in the process of signing up for sessions.

It is important to begin closing when you either have a good grasp on the conversation and the direction it is heading or if you see the negative nonverbal cues that mean the person is losing interest.

Head Position and Facial Expressions

The way the person is positioning their head while you speak is something important to note as well. If they are nodding along with what you are saying, then they are clearly taking careful note of it. However, if they nod quickly and abruptly, you can tell they are getting prepared to give their input or ask a question. You never want to be caught off guard by a question. Take note of these cues with the information you are giving in order to quickly prepare yourself for what they might say.

The client’s facial expressions can be a good indicator of what is going through their head. Some people might have a really good poker face. For the ones that do not, though, it’s easy to predict when they are experiencing some dissonance. This means you need to close the sale as soon as possible. If you get really good at reading expressions, then no poker face will have you fooled!

  1. The mouth – Keep a nice, relaxed smile on your face throughout the pitch and they will most likely do the same. When you see the smile fade after you give information like price, then it’s time to move to the close.
  2. The eyebrows – Eyebrows are pretty much the biggest indicator of emotion on the face. Raising eyebrows can be an indicator of surprise or impression whereas furrowing them can mean distaste or frustration. One eyebrow raised means interest or a lack of trust. Either way, this means you need to build value around the information you have given.
  3. The eyes – Refer to the previous section! Pupil dilation is an indicator of mood, but there are too many factors at play that make it unreliable. Focus on how they make eye contact and the way they move their eyes in response to your pitch.

Facial expressions are good indicators of what might be going through a person’s head. Consider expressions in the context of the information you are providing and the other nonverbal cues they are expressing.

Overall, practice picking up on these cues in the everyday interactions you have with friends and family and see how much it can help you to adapt to social situations in general! A sales pitch is not a perfect one unless you have a 100% success rate in every sales conversation.

If you liked this article and want to read more, then check out the rest of our blog here! Please feel free to leave any feedback below.

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