How would you like to read your client’s minds?

Swami gazing into a crystal ballThere were times with clients when I felt like a mind reader, clairvoyant moments when I wondered if I was actually reading minds. Have you ever felt that way?

Last night, I enjoyed my annual viewing of “The Third Man” with Orson Welles. I’m a classic black and white movie and film noir fan. Orson Welles was one of the greatest actors ever and a sales pro if there ever was one. He sold his characters and his films with imitable skill. One of his greatest sales was his 1939 radio production of “War of the Worlds.” The show opened with numerous faux news reports of a mars invasion, so realistic that they caused mass panic.

After the movie, I found an interview with Orson talking about cold reading, fortunetelling. Orson called himself a magician who became interested in mind reading. He sought out “old fakes who retired as millionaires” and learned their secrets. Don’t pass up this hilarious and insightful 3-minute interview at the end of this post.

He explained how we compute what we see. At first, you study certain things about people, their dress, demeanor, etc. After a while, that skill codifies into and a seemingly instinctual process in our “computer.”

Because there is only so much we can discern from words, learning how to read your clients is a invaluable skill. For instance, many salespeople freeze up when a buyer says something ambiguous like, “Let me think about it,” because they do not know what the buyer really means.

Rather than turn situations caustic by asking uncomfortable questions like, “What is there to think about?” learning how to read their facial expression, body language to determine if they are uncomfortable, disinterested, closed off, angry, confused, or just wearing a good poker face gives you direction on how to respond.

We already interpret EBL (emotional body language) subconsciously in the amygdala. By studying body language, you consciously understand these subtle communications that once were feelings and little hairs raising on the back of your neck. You can develop reading people’s body language into an instinctive, valuable skill.

“[E]motional behavior can be initiated even if visual stimuli such as EBL, facial expressions, sounds or smells are processed without conscious recognition.” by Beatrice de Gelder

From Towards the neurobiology of emotional body language

Think about walking. A child thinks about every motion of each step. Lifting your foot, balancing on your other foot, swinging your leg, rotating your hips, swinging your arms, and watching what you’re doing. As the child practices, they no longer think about the mechanics and their gait becomes natural, almost autonomic. The same holds true for reading body language.  With study and practice reading between the words will become as instinctive as walking

What about your own body language?  What impressions and messages are you sending with your facial expressions, posture and voice quality? Do you send mixed messages like shaking your head no while saying yes. By learning body language, you will communicate better.

You do not have to become a body language expert, But you do want to fully understand the context of your client’s words. You want to increase your Emotional Intelligence. The more fully you understand your clients, the more likely you will become their trusted adviser. And this is how you win more high quality sales and bail out earlier from low quality opportunities.

There are numerous books on body language. About.com has a well-constructed, easy to read guide.

Do you recognize and understand body language?

Are you aware of your body language and how it affects others?

Has reading body language helped you in your customer relationships?