Mastering the skill of reading people can be incredibly beneficial, especially for sales professionals. When sales reps learn how to discern things like tone of voice and facial expressions, they can tailor their sales pitch more effectively. This, in turn, can help them connect with prospects on a deeper level.

Renowned sales and leadership expert Steve Keating says that many people think they’re pretty good at observing others’ behavior, body language and verbal cues, but they’re wrong. Instead, most people overestimate their ability in this area, which can lead to miscommunication and sometimes false assumptions.

The good news is that anyone can improve the skill of reading people. It just takes some effort and practice. In this issue of PromoPro Daily, we highlight Keating’s ideas on how to read people more effectively.

  1. Pay attention to body language. Is your prospect leaning forward or nodding? This lets you know they’re interested in what you’re saying. On the other hand, if they’re glancing at their phone, they may be distracted. Keating advises always observing gestures, facial expressions, posture and eye movements.

  2. Be an active listener. Note the other person’s tone of voice and how fast (or slow) they’re speaking. How people talk can reveal their underlying attitudes or emotions.

  3. Look for patterns. Do you notice any behaviors or reactions across different situations? Keating says these patterns can reveal someone’s habitual responses and personality traits.

  4. Understand the context. Many things can influence your prospects, from their environments or past experiences to cultural norms. Keep that in mind to become better at reading others.

  5. Watch for nonverbal cues. According to Keating, these may include fidgeting or sweating. The other person’s breathing rate may change, which can also provide insight into their emotional state.

  6. Put yourself in their shoes. Empathy is crucial when you want to read people effectively. Think about what the other person may be feeling or thinking. This can help you understand their perspective and motivations, Keating says.

  7. Ask open-ended questions. Most sales professionals know the importance of asking open-ended questions. Rather than questions that elicit a simple yes or no, these questions dig deeper and encourage the other person to talk about themselves and their situation.

  8. Trust your instincts. Intuition can be a powerful tool in reading people, Keating says. If something feels off or inconsistent, don’t ignore it.

  9. Stay aware of your biases. Your own preconceptions can influence how you interpret someone else’s behavior, Keating says, so try to approach each interaction with an open mind and without judgement.

  10. Seek clarification. Anytime you’re not sure about someone’s intentions, ask them. This can help save frustration in the future and resolve misunderstandings.

How well do you read people? It’s a skill worth refining. It can help you connect with and understand your prospects, which can ultimately lead to more sales and long-term business relationships.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Steve Keating has more than 30 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He is a thought leader and authority on leadership. He is also an acclaimed speaker on leadership, sales, customer service and business management.