How to Analyze People: People Reading Skills

Learning how to analyze people is an important part of being a good salesperson. When you can read your leads and prospects, you can develop a better understanding of what drives them, their pain points, and their motivations. The more you know, the better and more relevant your sales pitch becomes. The question is, how do you master the art of people reading?

1. Create a Baseline

The first step in successful “person reading” is understanding that everyone has unique quirks, characteristics, and patterns of behavior. Some people look at the floor when they talk, while others move their hands or tilt their head.

Pinpointing the unique quirks of individual people, you connect with will help you to form a “baseline” understanding, or people profile for each person you contact. It might take a while to get a complete picture of a person’s baseline, so don’t be afraid to engage in several conversations to get there. You should also update your baseline as you learn more over time.

2. Examine Deviations

When creating your baseline, try to determine deviations from the natural “status quo” of that person. Deviations are often caused by emotions, like anger, nervousness, or happiness. Look for the triggers which lead to certain actions from the person you’re studying. Knowing that a person wrinkles their nose when they’re upset can help you to quickly detect when a conversation is going poorly.

Keep track of deviations and make notes of any patterns you confirm. Over time, you might notice clusters of actions which indicate you should proceed with caution. For instance, if someone clears their throat, this might not mean anything, but if your buyer clears their throat, scratches their hand and shuffles their feet, that might be a bad sign.

3. Look for Subtle Hints

Sometimes, a person reading means looking at the subtle elements that would otherwise be overlooked in a conversation. For instance, how a person walks, stands, or introduces themselves to you can help you learn a lot about them.

If someone shuffles a lot or keeps their head down during a conversation, this indicates they might not have a lot of self-confidence. If someone holds their head high or refuses to look you in the eye during a conversation, they may be proud, or nervous.

4. Examine Yourself

To become an expert at people reading, you also need to know how to recognize your own behaviors in others. Mirror neurons are the term used to refer to the built-in monitors in our mind which help us to reflect the people we interact with and even influence their behavior. A smile from someone else encourages us to smile, and so on.

Learn how to identify your own behaviors, and how you feel when your body exhibits certain signals. This can make it easier to identify similar emotions and experiences in others. Keep in mind, however, that the way some people respond to you may be different to the way you exhibit emotions and thoughts yourself.

5. Pinpoint Action Words

Sometimes, it’s not just a person’s actions or the look on their face which defines what they’re thinking. You’ll find that the words a person chooses to use can also highlight what’s going on in their head. For instance, if you’re pitching a product to a customer and they say “we’ve decided to go with another option”, the term “decided” usually means they’ve considered all of the possibilities, done their research, and made an informed decision.

On the other hand, if someone says “we’re thinking of going with another option”, this indicates your prospect isn’t bowled over by your offer yet, but they’re not opposed to it either. The fact that they’re still “thinking” means you have a chance to change their mind.

6. Explore Personality Clues

Personality clues give context to the things people do and say, helping us to determine more about that individual. For instance, if a person is naturally more introverted than extroverted, but they decide to lead the conversation with you about upgrading their subscription or exploring a new product, you know they’re already excited about the idea, or they consider it to be very important.

Other personality clues worth looking at include:

  • How the person handles uncertainty and risk
  • Whether they’re driven by relationships
  • What feed the person’s ego
  • What the person does when stressed or relaxed
  • What makes the other person happy or sad

Combining the Elements

Learning how to analyze people can be an excellent way to develop a deeper knowledge of everyone from your team members to the customers or prospects you try to sell to. While it takes time to learn how to read people correctly, keeping the above principles in mind should help you to communicate and reach your goals more effectively.

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