“How did you guess I am mainly concerned with my own reaction to having to set a price?” asked a client who continually telegraphed clear signs of low self-esteem. I jokingly answered that I’m no mind reader, but when someone suddenly avoids eye contact as soon as price, value, or worth gets mentioned, it’s a fairly safe bet. He cracked a broad smile, showed both of his palms to the camera, and said “Busted!”
Calling this a “cold read” may be glamorizing it, but it’s the closest description.
When you have seen a situation many times, you will become able to pick up cues that instantly point toward the right problem.
You’ll be able to tell apart an IT client worried about data breaches from one anxious about a delayed product launch because the first kind tends to look at their phone every 5 seconds while the other has their on airplane mode to eliminate distractions, sort of thing.
Pulling it off successfully will make most clients trust you more, because “this one obviously gets it.” Of course, trying and failing at it can backfire and make you look impulsive or even cocky, so try to keep the tone light so that you can play it off as a half-joke if it turns out your “cold read” is way off.
This one is hard to train, but you could try to look for patterns. For example, is there something about the behavior or body language common in clients motivated by the same problem?