Nov 10 2022
Using body language to your advantage when speaking to prospects
By Melinda Woo
Effective communication can be largely segmented into two subtypes – verbal and non-verbal communication. While most financial advisors might choose to focus their efforts on their messaging and how they plan to word their pitches, one’s body language is the most important factor of all. In fact, the 7-38-55 Communication Model shows that 55% of all communication is body language, 38% is the tone of voice, and 7% is actual words spoken.
This is because body language is key in how humans understand one another. It can help us interpret the full message of what someone is trying to say and can also be used to adjust our own body language so that we appear more positive, engaging, and approachable. As a financial advisor, having an in-depth understanding of your customer’s nonverbal cues also means you can use it to your advantage when proposing financial policies to them.
As shared by Karyl Phua, a two-year MDRT member from Singapore, “Non-verbal communication is highly important, as the right body language can allow your client to feel respected during the conversation.”
Using body language to your advantage
1. Eye contact
Eye contact is highly important when having a conversation. Not only is it respectful to maintain the right amount of eye contact while conversing, but it can also help to keep your prospect engaged. When your prospect has good eye contact or has their attention on your presentation deck, you can be sure that they are fully engaged and are interested in your pitch. Of course, good eye contact from your prospect must be reciprocated by you as well, as this will signal to your clients that you are listening to their queries and understanding their needs.
However, if your prospect is glancing around the room while you are speaking, it might indicate that they are uninterested, or not ready to commit to your proposed financial policies at the moment.
2. Facial expressions
Another non-verbal cue to look out for in your prospect is their facial expression. Oftentimes, clients might not express their disagreement outwardly while you are talking to them, but their facial expressions can reveal something they choose not to say.
For example, if you notice that your prospect is frowning slightly, pursing their lips, or tensing their jaw, they might be in disagreement with you. In this situation, it is okay to pause your pitch to address their feelings or to apologize if you feel you had unintentionally offended them.
Phua notes when the client nods in agreement while she is speaking, it gives her the assurance that she is on the right track.
Body posture is key when it comes to finding out your prospects’ level of comfort with you. If they are at ease when talking to you, their ankles will be loosely crossed, or they might have their legs stretched. They might also lean in while you are explaining, which indicates a high level of interest in the topic that you are speaking to them about.
If they are uninterested, you will notice that they will do the opposite – leaning back and creating space between the two of you or tilting their body to face another direction. In this situation, you can consider pivoting the conversation to another topic or cutting the meeting short, if necessary.
Two-year MDRT member with one Court of the Table qualification Dickson Soh from Singapore, shares that once he notices that his client or prospect is fidgeting, using their phone or seeming distracted, it tells him that his presentation is not going well. To turn the situation around, he suggests, “Start asking more open-ended questions to allow the client to speak their mind and start listening instead of pitching.”
When it comes to deciphering the body language of your clients and prospects, it is important to remember that non-verbal cues are often involuntary and can be difficult to pick up on. In order to successfully use them to your advantage, financial advisors have to be observant and open to changing their approach according to their client's non-verbal responses.