Buying signals

June 26, 2009

How can you tell if someone is interested in buying something from you? Well, the answer relates to understanding buying signals. Buying signals come in two forms: verbal and non-verbal, or what and how people say things and how they react to certain questions or responses. When a customer takes an interest in a presentation it shows that either:
 They recognised a solution to a problem they have identified
 They are interested, but have not decided yet to act
 They have made a mental decision to buy
Either way, its good news – you have connected with the client. So how can you identify verbal and non-verbal buying signals? The first thing to remember is that during a sales presentation the client is having an internal conversation with themselves and are asking questions of themselves like ‘do I need this?’, ‘can I afford this?’ etc. The verbal and non-verbal buying signals are the external manifestation of this internal discussion. If you don’t believe me think of a time when you went into a store to look and buy something electronic.

A verbal buying signal is usually a question asked by the client during the sales presentation, usually a question they would not ask if they were not interested in buying. Examples are:
 ‘what kind of guarantee do you give?’
 ‘do I have to pay right away?’
 ‘do you have quantity discounts?’
 ‘what colours does it come in?’
 ‘how much is it going to cost?’
 ‘can we take this on lease?’
 ‘do you have a maintenance contract?’
All these questions have one thing in common, they would only be asked by someone actively considering making a purchase. So you should always ask yourself during the sales presentation, ‘why did they ask that question?’

Examples of non-verbal buying signals are actions done by the client during the presentation. For example:
 Picking up a product to read instructions
 Going back to something you have covered
 Eyes staying on a particular item
 Moving closer to get a better look
 Suddenly sitting up in the middle of a presentation
Again, why would someone do one of these things if they were not interested? So again you should ask yourself, ‘why did they do that?’ during a sales presentation.

Now, I am quite happy to concede that reading body language and being able to process questions like this in the middle of a sales presentation takes practice, time and experience. However, the more times you do a sales presentation the more likely you are to pick up on the buying signals. There are several books on how to read body language and these are a good place to start understanding the process.

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