May 4, 2020 • Podcast

How do I know when the customer is ready to buy?

Paul shares ten signals that indicate a customer or prospect is ready to buy.

Show Notes:

The customer will let you know when they are ready to buy. The customer will give you several verbal and non-verbal signals.

“An interested buyer will ask for the price. Some salespeople confuse this question as a price objection.” Why would they ask the price if they weren’t interested?

“Don’t be too influenced by the tone of the customer.” Instead, analyze the content of their message, not the context. If a customer seems dissatisfied with your longer lead time, it means they want your product sooner.

What’s the difference between a customer saying “your product” versus “my product”? Look for possessive descriptors.

A buyer will ask overly technical questions as a last line of defense for poor decision making.

Do you have them on the edge of their seat? If so, they are engaged.

The most obvious verbal buying signal is “yes”.

***

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How do I know when the customer is ready to buy?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to answer a common question. That question is, “What are the signals that a customer gives you when he or she is ready to buy a product?” A big shout out to Ambily. Ambily is the one who sent in this question. Ambily is spelled A M B I L Y. I hope I’m saying it correctly. If not, either way, we’re going to answer your question. 

Before we get into that though, a big shout out to our sponsor, Andrea over at the Creative Impostor Studio, doing a great job editing the podcast, getting it launched, getting it out there. If you’ve thought about starting a podcast (I’m sure you’ve got some time on your hands these days), it’s a great way to connect with your audience; It’s a great way to connect with your customers. As I mentioned before, a lot of my big clients are starting to build up internal podcasts for their team and also for their customers. So, during this time, it’s a great way to connect.

We’re going to take a little break from our theme lately, which has been about selling in uncertain times. And really, I’m glad to do it. It’s good to get back to just a normal sales question. So, we’re going to answer this question for Ambily: “What are the signals that a customer gives when he or she is ready to buy a product?”

I was reviewing this and, it’s funny. I was looking at one of our websites the other day, and one of the most viewed articles that I’ve ever written actually is on this very topic. We’re going to give you ten signals. It’s a combination of verbal and nonverbal signals. 

We’re going to go through all the verbal signals. The first verbal signal that a buyer is interested in the product that you are selling, and that he or she might be ready to buy, they ask for the price. What’s interesting about this, a lot of times salespeople will take this information when a buyer asks for price, and they will view that as an objection. They’re going to think, “They must be ready to object on the price,” or, “They’re price sensitive,” because they’re asking about price, and that’s not the case at all. The buyer’s asking about price because they are interested in buying. If they had no need or no interest in buying your product, they wouldn’t care what the price is. So, when the buyer starts asking about price, a specific price—especially for a product that maybe is new or that they’re unfamiliar with—that shows you they are interested.

Another thing that buyers will do—another verbal signal—they will start asking logistical-type questions. Questions about delivery or lead times. Be careful not to be too influenced by the tone. For example, let’s say you’re talking to a customer, and the customer seems interested. They’re asking about the price and they say something like, “Well, what kind of lead time are we looking at on this? I mean, how long do I have to wait to get this type of product?” Initially, the tone might sound like they’re frustrated, or they’re getting ready to give an objection. But really, it shows that they’re interested.

When the buyer also starts using ownership words—and this is a third signal—ownership words rather than saying the product. When they start saying things like my product, or when they say things like our program (versus this program), or my program, or, “When can I get my shipment?” You see the words there—mine and ours. Any word that shows possession or ownership shows you that they’re starting to buy in. Be aware of those.

The fourth verbal signal to look for… When a buyer starts asking overly technical questions, technical questions that relate to very specific items, very specific applications. The reason they’re asking about these technical questions and trying to get this information, they’re almost trying to discredit the solution in some way. It’s almost like they’re trying to talk themselves out of it. They’re looking for any gaps, any holes, wondering what your product can or can’t do. When they start getting too into the nitty gritty, realize that they’re not getting further away from buying. They’re actually getting closer. This is like the last line of defense, as one way to think of it, for making a good buying decision. They’re trying to make sure that they’re covering all their bases. All those technical questions? Those are also a great sign. 

Our fifth verbal tip. If they start repeating a benefits statement, that is a very good sign. Let’s say, for example, your product has a three-year warranty just to use some random benefit, and the buyer says, “Earlier you mentioned that there’s a three year warranty on this? Okay. Just want to make sure. You said it’s three years, right?” When they start repeating that benefit statement and calling attention to benefits that you previously mentioned, it means that they are interested.

And finally, this is probably the biggest verbal indicator that they are ready to buy. They say, “Yes, I want to buy.” I know this sounds obvious, but you would be shocked at the amount of salespeople who can’t take yes for an answer. When the buyer says, “You know what? Everything looks good. I like the product. I think it makes sense for us,” that’s them saying YES. They’re ready to buy. When the buyer is ready to buy, we get the information that we need so that we can process the order, process the PO, whatever we need to do, and then we get out of there. When they say yes, make sure you take yes for an answer.

Looking at some other things that we need to be aware of. These are some of the non-verbal things. These are a little more subtle things we’re going to have to pick up on. So I wanted to go through a few of those. When you’re talking about a tangible product and you’re actually able to sell a tangible product face to face, one thing you should be aware of is if the buyer is touching the product or if they’re able to hold it or lift it. When a buyer picks something up or they begin to touch it, for example, it is a way to show ownership. They’re picking it up as if it is theirs. By picking it up and holding on to it, they’re showing ownership. That’s one of the non-verbal things that we want to look for. 

Something close to that. If you’re delivering a presentation and you offer a proposal to your customer. When they’re picking up the proposal and holding it, and they’re taking notes on it, and they don’t want to put it back down, that is showing ownership as well. That is a good non-verbal that we need to look for.

Another thing, chin rubbing. And this often happens. It’s sometimes a default position for people when they are experiencing a presentation. They might rub their chin, or cross their arms and rub their chin. And by doing that, that shows interest. We want to be aware of that clue. It doesn’t mean that they’re completely buying into everything, but it does show a certain level of interest.

Another thing to think about. When you’re delivering a presentation, whether it is face to face or even virtually these days, you want to be aware of the customer’s posture. When the buyer is engaged in the presentation, when they are interested, there’s a good chance they’re going to lean forward. That’s where the expression, “We have them on the edge of their seat,” it’s kind of linked to that. When they’re leaning forward, they’re engaged, they’re curious, they want to know more. That is a very good sign.

On the other end of that, if a buyer is closely engaged and all of a sudden they lean back in their chair, or they turn their shoulder to you slightly, that indicates that you did something or said something that might’ve lost their interest. Now, this one is subtle. Again, these non-verbals… I want to offer a word of caution. When we’re analyzing and assessing the customer, we want to be aware of what they’re saying and what they’re doing, but we don’t want to try to distract ourselves from deeply listening to that customer’s needs. We don’t want to use these non-verbals as a distraction. We don’t want to put more emphasis and focus on those than what they’re actually saying. Because, we want to make sure we’re completely understanding that buyer.

With that being said, the final tip—this is going to be the most obvious non-verbal buying signal that the customer is ready to buy—when they nod their head up and down in a yes motion. This is the universal sign that they are interested, and that they are ready to move forward, and they’re ready to buy. They like what you’re presenting. When you see that, that one you should be able to notice. You can look for that.

One of the ways I like to draw out and get that buyer to emote and share what they’re thinking is to ask them the question, “What do you think so far? What do you think of our presentation?” When you ask that question, you’re not only going to get the verbal response that you’re looking for, which is going to tell you whether they’re interested or not, but they’re also going to use some non-verbals to go along with it.

We just gave you ten ways that the buyer will indicate whether he or she is ready to buy a product. One thing to keep in mind, a buyer might display several of these, or just one or two of them. Or they might be well guarded. You’ve got to remember, for every sales training course out there that teaches salespeople to look for these signals, there’s also a procurement training course out there that teaches buyers to conceal their emotions, to conceal these buying signals. Because once a buyer knows that they are feeling compelled to buy your solution, they know that price might play less of a role, and they’re willing to pay a little bit more. So they might try to conceal those things, but be aware of them.

This is another thing where practice makes perfect. One thing I would encourage you to do, bring your sales manager on a sales call. Have the sales manager run one of the sales calls and you look at the buying behavior. You look at the verbal and non-verbals of the buyer to see how interested they are. Ask your sales manager to do the same. Go on a sales call and start to look for these buying signals. Ask the sales manager to look for them and give you feedback on whether you recognized them or what you missed. It’s going to help you become more aware of these behaviors.

That’s the show for today. Again, Ambily, thank you for submitting that question.

Make it a big day.

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