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While good listening skills are key to every sales process, it’s just as important – if not more – to learn to recognize and interpret your prospect’s non-verbal communications. When prospects’ words are saying one thing, their body language is often saying another.

Have you ever had a gut feeling that what a person said to you was untrue? Often gut feelings are triggered by non-verbal cues. So the first step toward increasing your non-verbal intelligence is paying attention to your gut reactions. If you’re getting a weird feeling, pay close attention to the other person’s body language.

Learning to read the signs

There are many types of nonverbal cues to help you better understand your insurance prospect: 

  • Environmental. If your prospect’s office is barren with everything in place, he is probably a logical, rational thinker looking for the facts. If the office is cluttered with family photos and citations from charities, you’re probably working with an emotional decision maker. 
  • Approach. Does your prospect take time to chat or does he get right to the point? The beginning of an interaction can provide insight into the prospect’s behavior style – letting your know if he’s a driver personality or more amiable. 
  • Facial expressions. The facial expressions for happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust are the same across cultures. Is your prospect smiling or raising his eyebrows? Or is he wrinkling his nose, furrowing his brow, or rolling his eyes?
  • Body movements and posture. How is your prospect positioned? Are his shoulders relaxed, or are they stiff and immobile? Is he leaning forward in interest, with knees and shoulders facing you? Or, is he leaning back or pointed away? Is he timid or bold?  Bold, confident people tend to “spread out” with their arm behinds their head or legs extended. 
  • Gestures. Is your prospect responding with closed arms and dismissive hand gestures, or with open arms and nodding in agreement?
  • Eye contact. Eye contact can communicate interest, affection, hostility, attraction, and many other things, and it’s an important part of gauging the other person’s response. Is eye contact being made? If so, is it overly intense or just right? 
  • Speech. It’s not just what they say, it’s how they say it. Does your prospect’s voice project warmth, confidence, and interest, or is it strained? Is the person’s manner of speaking formal or informal? What types of words does the prospect use? Visual (Can you see what I mean?); auditory (I like the sound of it); or kinesthetic (Are you catching this?).

Additional tips 

  • Watch for inconsistencies. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said. Is the person saying one thing while their body language is saying another?
  • Trust your instincts. Don’t dismiss gut feelings. If you get the sense that something isn’t adding up, you may be picking up on a mismatch between verbal and nonverbal cues. 
  • Don’t judge by one signal. Don’t read too much into a single nonverbal cue. Consider all of the nonverbal signals from eye contact to tone of voice and body language. Taken together, are they consistent with the prospect’s words?

It’s a two-way street

Don’t forget – while you’re busy interpreting your prospects’ nonverbal communications, they’re paying attention to yours too. Projecting the right non-verbal cues can help put your prospect at ease. Try to mirror the style of the person with whom you’re interacting.

Learning to read and interpret nonverbal cues can help take your insurance selling to the next level. It provides great insights into interest levels and potential objections, allowing you to adjust your sales strategy accordingly.

When you have a better understanding of your prospect’s style respond with the appropriate type of sales material. Analytic decision makers respond well to the DI Stat Pack and emotional decision makers like our Four Stories handout. Download them now, so you’re ready for whatever non-verbal cues come your way!