How to Tell When a Client or Prospect is Lying
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How good are your probing skills? Can you read clients’ thoughts or are you just listening to their words? Probing is the most important part of the process of gaining new clients. The better you probe, the less you have to close. The better you probe, the less need to prospect because your closing rate gets better.
But if you are like most advisors, you blindly accept responses to your questions and the musings of your clients.
John, a successful advisor, greeted a new prospective client to a “fit” virtual appointment. He hoped to interest them enough to pay a planning fee and move to the next phase of implementing a financial plan. After some initial pleasantries, John asked what their retirement goals were. The couple said they were worried about running out of money and the volatility of the past year.
John knew enough to qualify the couple and asked if there were working with another advisor. They said “yes.” He asked when they last spoke to the advisor. The husband looked up at the ceiling and said, “Not for a long time.” John finished the rest of the meeting and asked if the couple wanted to proceed. The husband responded, “Let us go think about it and we will get back to you,”
After a few weeks of follow-up calls, John finally connected and asked if they wanted to book another appointment. The husband said he had an advisor they liked a lot and only wanted a few new ideas to share with him.
John wondered what he could have missed. Could he have qualified better? Was there a question he should have asked? The couple wasn’t completely honest in the meeting. How could he have missed this? Is there something else he could have said?
The answer lies in your emotional intelligence (EQ). Are you listening for content and context? But more importantly, can you read behavior well enough to find out whether people are being completely honest?
Twenty years ago, I spoke at a conference on this topic: “How to Read Your Client’s Mind.” An FBI agent spoke after me on how important it was to spot lies during witness field interviews. One fabrication could send the whole investigation down a rabbit hole. She employed an involved method of reading body language and spotting stress cues that suggested a need for more questions.
But you don’t need the advanced training of an FBI field agent to spot the truth. There is a better way.
In my 1980s book, Sales Magic, I discussed business applications of neuro linguistic programming (NLP). The book was the first to show the three types of perceptual communication styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visuals make sense of what you say by producing images from your words. Auditory individuals gain understanding and rapport by listening to how you sound. Kinesthetics gain trust by how they feel with you. You can diagnose each mode by noticing someone’s eyes and words. Visuals move their eyes up to the right when thinking in the future. They move their eyes up to the left when recalling the past. Auditory people move their eyes side right when thinking about what to say. They move their eyes side left when recalling past conversations. Kinesthetics are simple to spot because people look down right when they begin to get a feeling.
Since visuals and auditory people move their eyes to the right when constructing future thoughts, and left when recalling memories, you can spot fabrications in their responses if you closely pay attention.
Let’s say you ask a prospective client if they currently have a financial advisor. They will look left as they recall the person. Let’s also say you ask about the last time they spoke to that advisor. In response, they look right creating an answer. When you ask about something from the past and a client thinks in the future, the response is a fabrication.
It is a lie.
Not every fabrication is a purposeful deception. If you ask where I live, I will likely look right and say Los Angeles. That is especially true if you aren’t familiar with the west coast. The truth is I don’t live in LA. But trying to be helpful, I think about an obvious landmark nearby to make the conversation easier. If you were aware of my eyes moving to the right, you might say, “Do you live in LA or just close by?” I would then say, “Well actually, I live in Tustin, a half hour south of Disneyland.”
Think of the power you would have if you could spot fabrications when engaged in a new prospect appointment. The question could be, “When was the last time you spoke to your advisor?” This is important because if they engaged with their advisor in the last three months, they are unlikely to work with you. But if it has been a year or so, the advisor relationship may be weak. If they look to the right, and say, “Not for a while,” you have spotted a fabricated answer to a request for a past memory. You would elegantly say, “Does a ‘while’ mean the last few months?”
Watch this YouTube clip and see if you can spot the fabrications from this socialist college student as she moves her eyes right during the interview: Let the 1% Pay for College.
Spotting a lie isn’t about inelegantly accusing someone of being untruthful. It is giving you a tool to probe more effectively and giving you a heightened ability to read your clients emotions. It gives you a way to gain more rapport and avoid wasting your time.
Write me at [email protected] or call 714-368-3650. After a 10-minute discussion about your practice, I will send you a video on “How to Spot a Lie”.
Dr. Kerry Johnson is “America’s Business Psychologist”. He is the best-selling author of 15 books and a frequent speaker at financial conferences around the world. Peak Performance Coaching, his one on one coaching program, promises to increase your business by 80% in 8 weeks. To see if you are a candidate for this fast track system, click on www.KerryJohnson.com/coaching and take a free evaluation test. You will learn about your strengths and what is holding you back. Or call, 714-368-3650 for more information.