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Tips for winning the psychology game

5 March 2020: people buy from people, so winning your clients’ personal trust is vital. Of course, providing outstanding professional service is key but what other techniques prove you’re really on their side?

As countless business owners will attest, forming a strong rapport with a client right from the word go can often mean the difference between a life-long customer and a fly-by-night business acquaintance. But how do you establish an open and honest relationship with a new or potential client? Here are seven techniques (with the handy acronym BELIEVE), that could help.
B: Body
E: Ears
L: Language
I: Impression
E: Empathy
V: Views
E: Engagement

Body language

Your client wants openness and honesty – and psychologists say even subconsciously, the more people see of you, the more they trust you. Stand up straight – stooping can show lack of confidence, even interest – and when sitting, do so in an open position with your arms away from your stomach and chest. Body language expert Robert Phipps says this also helps you draw in more oxygen, improving concentration. Always keep friendly eye contact – looking away can suggest you’re disinterested or even furtive. And keeping palms open and upwards makes you appear receptive and welcoming to ideas. 

Ears for listening

It sounds obvious, but listen and respond appropriately. Give them space to speak, and ample opportunity to ask questions. Answer direct questions and properly engage in conversation about their business – or whatever they want to talk about.

Language that’s mindful

Even in friendly conversations, wrong responses can put a client off. Always give a solution-based answer, advises marketing consultant The Website Group. “Instead of ‘unfortunately, no…’ say ‘although we can’t provide that, here’s a better/similar option’; don’t correct them, say ‘I can’t have explained that clearly, my fault’. And if you don’t know the answer, don’t give a vague ‘let me look into that’, say: ‘I’ll do some research and promise to call you back later today/tomorrow.’

Impressions from the start

From the off, your client must feel in safe hands. Look confident, stand tall. If culturally appropriate, greet them with a firm, friendly, but not crushing, handshake. “Match the pressure of the other person’s hand,” advises body language expert India Ford. “It immediately elevates your perceived level of confidence and credibility.” A smile – including the eyes –  also makes you look positive, charming, approachable, and enthusiastic. They’ve come for help, so you need to show you’re capable, confident and trustworthy to work with them. Your unspoken message should be: “We’ve got this – together.”


Speak about what they’d like to speak about, however seemingly irrelevant. If they like cricket, you like cricket, or at least can be interested in cricket – even if just for those few minutes. It shows you want to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes. 

Views and mirroring

“Mirroring gestures can form an instant bond,” according to accountancy recruitment specialist Robert Half. “Subtly copying the posture and gestures of your client shows them subconsciously that you share the same views.”

Engagement that’s active

“Listen to their non-verbal cues too,” says Ford. “If they seem confused, explain further. If they look uncertain, ask them how they’re feeling and then reassure them that you want to help them do what is best for them. It’s far better they then choose a slightly different path with you than go home, decide you weren’t really listening, and cancel the whole deal.”