WATCH THEIR STYLE: EXPERT TIPS ON COMMUNICATING BETTER WITH CLIENTS
By: Dr. Kerry Johnson
Yogi Berra, manager of the New York Yankees baseball team sagely said, "You can observe a lot just by watching." Your clients will understand the true meaning of your message more effectively if you consciously use the right tools to communicate with them. People tend to think in three basic ways, as 1) visuals, 2) auditories, or 3) kinesthetics. Visuals want to see a message; Auditories are more easily influenced by perceived sounds; and Kinesthetics understand ideas more quickly by feeling.
A client’s style will impact how they process and retain information, and how they interact with you. Visuals make sense of words by constructing or recalling images in their mind. If they cannot make a picture from what you are saying, they may have trouble understanding your ideas. Auditories make decisions largely on the basis of how things sound. They often talk to themselves internally in order to comprehend a message. Kinesthetics, on the other hand, tend to feel. They experience visceral gut-level emotions from talking to you. They may feel hot or cold about you after just a few minutes.
As communication is a two way street, it is important to know which style you are as well. Think about your first hour of wakefulness this morning. What do you remember best? Think about what you saw, what you heard, and what you felt. What stands out most in your mind? If you remember more of what you saw, you are probably more visually based. If you remember more of what you heard, you are probably more auditory. If what you felt this morning sticks out in your mind, chances are you are kinesthetically based.
You can determine whether your client is a visual, auditory or kinesthetic: 1) By the way and direction they move their eyes when they think, and 2) by the words and predicates they use when talking, even on the telephone.
Visuals possess minds that work like a ‘viewmaster,’ with a lever advancing each picture, showing a three-dimensional view of the world. That’s how visuals' minds work. They love hearing about ideas that they can see. They understand concepts that give them beautiful pictures. In fact, about 35 percent of your prospects fit this category. They translate all your words into pictures they can comprehend, thereby gaining rapport and trust with you. These are prospects who like bar charts, graphs, beautiful scenes, things that help them think readily in pictures.
Visuals will give you certain cues to show you how they think. You were probably told at least once in a business training course, "Always watch your prospect's eyes," but nobody ever explained what you should be looking for. They move their eyes in three basic directions. Visuals will look up to the right when thinking about future information. When doing this they are constructing and creating thoughts of
what may happen. You may ask a question such as, “Mr. Prospect, what do you want your retirement to be like?” If that visual looks up to the right, he’s constructing or creating a number inside his mind, possibly $100k per year. If they visual looks up to the left, they are recalling things they have seen before.
You may ask “What motivated you to buy the annuity I see in your portfolio”? If they looks up to the left, they may be searching their memory for pictures of the person whole sold it to them. Finally, visuals may move their eyes into a defocused, blank stare. Have you ever noticed someone staring right through you with a blank glazed look? When your prospect does this, they are synthesizing and translating your words into pictures they can understand more quickly.
Even the words these people use are visually based. If looking at eyes seems too difficult, their words will prove to be a simple giveaway. Visuals use words such as ‘look,’ (that looks good to me), or ‘clear,’ (that is clear so far), or ‘I see,’ (I see what you mean), or ‘view,’ (here is my view on this perspective, ‘here’s my perspective’). People do not use words randomly. When your client talks, he is giving you specific information about how he thinks. If he thinks in Visual pictures, he will tell you by the use of his words exactly what’s going through his mind. That’s how people think and that’s how they will buy..
Use specific strategies when dealing with visuals.
- Draw illustrations of your ideas on paper.
- Talk with your hands. Visuals describe those who practice this technique as "charismatic." These ideas allow visuals to picture your message.
- When showing a visual a fact sheet, hand it to him and stop talking. When your prospect is done processing the information, he'll re-establish eye contact.
- Watch what you wear. Color research has shown that visuals may rate you higher in credibility when you wear blues and grays instead of browns or beiges, and of course, when you are well groomed.
The most important thing to do with visuals is to match their words. If you remember nothing else, please remember this. Visuals want to hear specific words from you that describe your product clearly in pictures. Phrases that help them access their natural thought picture system quickly are: “Do you ‘see’ what I am talking about?" "What is your ‘view’ on this?" "In your ‘perspective’ does this ‘look’ like it will work for you?" "Do you ‘envision’ this as the kind of retirement you want to have?" If you use visual, sight-based words on your visual prospect, you will get more rapport and trust, you will get through the discovery phase faster.
Auditories, on the other hand, tend to think in a sound-oriented mode. They make sense of your message by recalling past conversations. They may also evaluate your ideas primarily on the sound of your voice and the tone of your delivery.
Auditories also move t heir eyes in three distinct directions as they think. When auditories move their eyes directly side right, they are constructing and creating sounds. For example, you might say to a prospect, “Where do you want to spend your retirement?” He may move his eyes to the right, thinking, “I want to move to Hawaii, but I wonder what my wife will say?” They are in effect hearing future sounds. If they move their eyes to the left, they are hearing past sounds. For example, you may say to the prospect, “Have you ever heard of our company before?” When a prospect looks down and to the left, he may be thinking in internal dialogue. Down left eye movement indicates that your prospect is hearing his own conversation.
Auditories also use key words to let you know they are thinking in sounds. They may use such words as ‘ring’ (that rings a bell), or ‘sounds’ (it sounds good to me), or ‘hear’ (I hear you), or ‘say’ (I like what you’re saying). My mother used to say, “Don’t take that tone with me young man.” Obviously, listening to the words they use is even easier than watching their eye movements. Both will give you a sure-fire tool to determine how they are in engaged in the process.
Here are some specific strategies to use with Auditories: match their predicates. Use phrases such as, “I’ll bet that ‘rings’ a bell” or “Does that ‘sound’ good to you?” Another phrase might be, “Do you like what you are ‘hearing” so far?” By using these auditory leading words, you will help sound-based prospects understand your message much more quickly. The second technique is to tickle their ears. One financial planner in Orange County, California, unconsciously uses rhyme as he speaks. He presents insurance products by saying, “To keep your familyprotected. You don’t want to die and leave them financially abjected, dejected or rejected.”
The third way to tune in to Auditories is to select the correct background office music. Research done at Wal-Mart, a large discount store chain, found that when slow music was played, sales were substantially higher than when faster music was broadcasted. While visuals may not even notice the music is on, Auditories will find their moods affected by it. A broker in Dallas uses a personal background stereo system in his office so he can control the type of music played. He plays classical music during probing, data gathering interviews, and faster paced melodies when he wants his auditory clients to make decisions and act quickly. The Musak Corporation has spent millions of dollars researching the types of tunes and tempos that will produce the highest levels of worker performance. They literally can prescribe Musak that speeds workers up after lunch or even slows them down toward quitting time.
The fourth technique is to explain illustrations as you proceed during a presentation. With visuals, you may find that they would rather read the illustration themselves while you remain quiet. Auditories prefer to have you explain it to them.
Kinesthetics, are feeling-based people. They feel hot or cold about almost everything they experience. When these feeling-based individuals read a book or watch a movie, they may not simply view it as entertainment, but they also experience it. Such people will reject or accept ideas on the merit of how they ‘felt’ during exposure to them. Kinesthetics will show you their thought processes by the way they move their eyes and the words they use. Kinesthetics typically move their eyes in only one direction: down to the right. This indicates they are thinking in a feeling-based mode.
You can also determine kinesthetic’s thought processes through the specific words they tend to use. You will hear them use predicates such as, “It sure made an ‘impression’ on me;” “How does that ‘grab’ you?” “Let’s ‘touch’ base next week;” “Here’s how I ‘feel’ about it; “It really ‘touched’ me.”
Here are some tips to use with kinesthetics.
- Match their words. Use phrases like, “What’s your ‘feeling’ on this?” “What’s your ‘impression’ of this?” “Shall we ‘touch’ base next week?” If you use these predicates, they will understand by getting a feeling for the meaning behind your message.
- Give them things to touch. Since they are feeling-based, they are likely to develop an emotion around ideas you make tangible, so tangible they can literally touch it. Have you ever noticed that some prospects actually reach out and grab brochures as you talk? These kinesthetic prospects are showing you how to communicate with them more effectively.
If as an advisor you knew which communication style (visual, auditory or kinesthetic) a client was, would it make you a more effective educator?
Would the client develop rapport with you more quickly? If he could get greater rapport, would he be more trusting? Your prospects buy trust first, product solutions second. With these techniques you will be a more effective advisor because you will be a better communicator.
You will not attain and engage clients as rapidly without using these strategies. If you are a visual, you probably have clients that are also visuals. If you are a feeling-based kinesthetic, you tend to communicate to everyone else in the same feeling way. A good example of this was illustrated in the movie, “Ghostbusters.” One of the first scenes in the movie was in a library. Cards were spontaneously flying out of the catalogue card drawers. There was slime on the books and walls. Actor Bill Murray actually got slime on his hands and started wiping them across the books. Then Dan Akroyd, the great comedic actor, immediately said, “Listen, did you smell that?” Akroyd actually was mismatching predicates. You may also be mismatching your prospects. If you are a visual, you might say, “How does this ‘look’ to you?” to your auditory prospect. He would be thinking, “I really ‘see’ what you’re talking about.”
A reason why you are not attaining more business could be that you are mismatching your prospect’s buying mode. The people you try to develop rapport with may not possess the same mental buying system as you.
Auditories frequently establish rapport more quickly with people who possess a disc-jockey-like resonance in their voices. They often have internal conversations with themselves, trying to make sense out of information. I knew a physician a few years ago who would literally talk himself through a decision--out loud! He would sit next to a staff nurse and ask her a question she could not possibly answer. He would then answer it himself and thank her for the help in solving the problem.
A financial salesperson in Florida, June Williams, found out how easy it is to communicate effectively to an auditory by using the proper techniques. She was trying to sell life insurance to a physician. About ten minutes into the presentation of showing pictures, drawings, illustrations, and giving visual examples, the prospect said, “Wait a second, June. Time out. Just talk to me about this. Explain it to me. Describe it to me. I do not want to look at all these charts, graphs, and brochures.” June mistakenly said, “If I do not show you these charts and illustrations, you really will not understand the plan.” He looked at her, smiled, and said, “Try me.” June did precisely that. She put all her felt pens and charts away and just talked with her prospect for a few minutes without the use of any visual aids. As she spoke, the
physician leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and started smiling. She thought he was fantasizing and said, “If you’re going to fall asleep, we can reschedule the meeting!” In spite of her hostile remark, the physician opened his eyes, winked at her, and said, “How much do I need to give you to get this plan started right now?” This man was an auditory. He did not want to look at her illustrations, he wanted to listen. He was much more motivated by hearing the financial plan than he was by looking at it. Fortunately, he told June how he wanted to be sold. But most of your prospects will not give you that courtesy. They will simply reject the idea without telling you why.
If you do not communicate with your prospect in their unique thinking mode, they will not become your client. If you can keep rapport high by matching their buying mode, you will double your business.