Body language indicators help to recognize intent

Here’s the scenario…you’re speaking details of your service and your customer or prospect starts rapidly twirling their pen then crosses their arms. Have you ever wondered what your client was thinking at this moment? Maybe you’re doing all the talking, and you can’t seem to read their facial cues and gauge interest. While a customer may not make it obvious what they are thinking, like a “tell” in poker, they are in fact giving you all the information you need, especially if you know how recognize common body language indicators.

A person’s facial expressions are not the only thing to focus on if you’re looking to determine a prospects commitment or absorption of what you’re saying. The body gives many signals you should pay attention to. Do you know what it means when a customer touches her nose or brushes her cheek during your sales presentation? What do you think she’s thinking if she lightly tugs on her ears? This guide will clue you in on common body language meanings in sales. Remember, identifying, interpreting, and understanding these subtle clues is a way to turn a regular sales pitch into a closed deal.

Common body language indicators to understand your prospects.

Arms crossed in front of the chest

If your customer crosses her arms across her chest during your pitch, she is being defensive. Why? Well, maybe she disagrees with the information you’re sharing. Maybe she doesn’t feel that you are listening to her. It’s possible that her crossing her arms is a protective measure. If she feels like you’re trying to take advantage of her or that you’re hard selling when she isn’t ready, she’ll take the defensive with a protective pose.

If you notice a customer cross her arms, consider scaling your sales pitch back a bit. Take a breath and a moment to figure out what is important to her. Is price her biggest concern, or maybe convenience? Once you’ve figured it out, reframe your sales pitch with her needs in mind.

Finger tapping

Uh oh! If your customer starts tapping her fingers during your sales pitch, it’s time to speed things up. She’s impatient and growing tired of waiting for you to get to your point or finish your pitch. Don’t waste your time or your customers’.

Another similar nonverbal indicator of disapproval or frustration with the speed and substance of your pitch is the “lean back” which can sometimes accompany the dreaded and purposely audible “sigh”. If you reach this point in your conversation, it might be time to change tact. Read below for ideas on how to break the tension by stepping back with a question. Taking a pause to re-group can sometimes make all the difference between a sale and no return call.

Head nodding

Head nodding is usually a good indicator that your contact is comfortable! It’s a gesture of submission that portrays agreement and encouragement. When your customer nods her head during your sales presentation, you’re on the right track. Use your best judgment on how to proceed. Should you move on to close? Are they agreeing with your statement or acknowledging that they understand to move to the next point?

Ear pulling

When you notice your customer’s hand reach up toward her ear to touch or gently pull on it, she’s trying to make a decision, but remains indecisive. Have you provided all the information on your product or services? If you’re convinced that you’ve done everything you can to move the deal forward, try asking some discovery questions. Find out what the indecision is and then you can address those needs.

Stroking the chin (or beard) or touching a cheek

Hmm…wondering what chin stroking means? Your client is simply deep in thought. You might notice this happening after you ask a closing question. All that’s happening is your customer is trying to make a decision. Give her a moment to think things out.

A long touch of the cheek means that she is deeply concentrating. If you sense a hesitation, consider asking her where she stands, and if there is anything you can do to help her make a decision.

Biting of nails or lips

Biting is a sign of stress or anxiety. When your customer is biting her lip or nails, it’s your responsibility to make her comfortable. Were you pushing the sale too hard? Consider ways you can better address her original needs. What value can you provide? How can you make your customer’s life easier? If you want the sale to proceed, it’s up to you to put her at ease.

Touching or scratching the nose

Warning! If your customer starts touching her nose, this typically indicates that your sales pitch isn’t going too well. She could be rubbing her nose for a few reasons, such as rejection, disbelief, or even lying. It’s important to pick up on other nonverbal cues if you notice any nose scratching.

Here’s something to keep in mind. There could be other reasons your clients behave in certain ways. If your customer crosses her arms in front of her while you’re meeting, she might be cold. What’s the temperature in your office? If your customer scratches her nose, she could simply have an itch. It’s important to listen to the words your customer speaks and pay attention to any other nonverbal cues she’s sharing.

Don’t just immediately assume your contact is being defensive, they may just fidget more than others or even a more serious reason. The important thing to make them comfortable and trusting of your authority and expertise.

Time to Pause for Questions?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to pick up on non-verbal queues or you feel something isn’t connecting, another great tip is to take a step back to ask a question that helps guide the conversation back to talking about your client. Start with this statement: “Let’s stop here for a second to make sure I’m covering everything that you might want to know.” then move to your question(s)…

  • Do you have any questions about what’s been covered or can I clarify anything for you?
  • Is there anything I can answer before we get into more details?
  • Does this sounds like something that might help alleviate your concerns?
  • Am I answering all of the questions you have?

Sometimes a brief reset by asking a few questions, even softball questions, can help you refocus on the needs of the customer.

While some common body language indicators are easy to recognize and great to use, remember it’s still about the conversation, not your ability to pick up a “tell”. How you help consumers with policy needs is the main goal. A comfortable, informational conversation that makes a person feel confident in their decision, that is the key to closing insurance leads!

What other body language meanings are you curious about?