What Are Your Buying Signals?

The USA Today quiz below, which makes a reference to a customer’s “buying signals,” got us wondering, what are our “tells” when we’re in the store? It turns out there are all sorts of places online to help us with this bit o’ self-knowledge.

“Whether our prospects like it or not, their bodies and words say it for them,” writes Laura Laaman for Business First. She lists a few basic signals salespeople should look for, which you may be providing without knowing:

  • Your prospect retakes possession of the product after your presentation.
  • Your prospect takes mental possession of the product or service. She could, for example, ask about the warranty. A novice salesperson thinks, “She’s concerned about the warranty.”
  • When one person asks permission of another. This can happen verbally or nonverbally. The reason a person initiates the “what do you think?” look is because he thinks it makes sense to move forward but wants reassurance from another person. If your prospect is shopping alone, he could look to you or ask for your opinion, and say something like: “Which model is most popular?”

Why is it so important to react to these buying signals immediately? Because they go away almost immediately. Buyers’ remorse sets in quickly, so hearing and reacting to the buying signals instantly often is the difference between a sale or not. An exception to this rule is when a customer asks about delivery or installation time.

Changing Minds lists some basic behavioral patterns that may help you see yourself as retailers see you. For example, as a shopper I tend to linger over products a looonnng time, which almost always triggers a salesperson intruding on my headphoned cone-of-music. I will stop doing this in the future, because it’s apparently a well-known signal to retailers that I’m thinking about buying, when what I’m actually thinking about is being a rock star and performing the song I’m listening to.

When they are not ready to buy

  • Avoiding eye contact with you
  • Making ‘not now’ excuses
  • Casual handling of the product
  • Looking at many different products
  • Moving around quickly

When they are ready to buy

  • Spending time looking at one product type
  • Looking around for somebody to help them
  • Asking questions about the detail
  • Asking about price
  • Using possession language
  • Asking another person’s opinion
  • Body state changes
  • Touching the money

Robert Gerrish at Flying Solo says some of the buying signals he learned from his used-car salesman days include:

  • Visualising language abounds — In the car business this came across with phrases like: “I wonder what my neighbours will make of the colour?” or “I can just see the kids in the back.”
  • Going over things more than once
  • Nudging your boundaries — Questions that challenge aspects of your procedures often indicate pre-sale playfulness. “You asked for a deposit of $2000. Would you accept $1000?”
  • Almost all references to money
  • Questions about timing

We came across several references to the money question—pretty much everyone agrees that if you start talking about the price being too high, what you’re really saying is, “I want to buy this but need to be better convinced of its value.”

“Learn customers’ buying signals to make more sales” [Business First]
“Buying signals” [Changing Minds]
“Do you recognise buying signals?” [Flying Solo]
(Photo: Getty)