“Help! I’m having a hard time reading the room! How can I tell if my prospect wants to buy?”
I hear it all the time. Sales professionals simply don’t know where they stand with a prospect — even when the sales meeting is coming to an end! Here’s what to do about it.
OK – so you nailed the cold call and set an appointment with a qualified decision-maker. The sales conversation seems to be going well, but you’re really not sure if you have a tire-kicker or buyer sitting in front of you.
Thankfully, there are four “buying signs” to look and listen for. These are almost foolproof signs, and some will rise up so blatant and obvious like a smoke signal in the wilderness. These signals will really help you to move the conversation along and ultimately get you closing more deals and helping more people.
Without further ado, here are the four buying signs and how you can use them to crush your goals this quarter and beyond.
1. Do They Have a REAL Need?
If there’s no need, there’s no way you can help. But if there IS a need, you’re in a great spot. So how can you tell? First, ask key questions. Ask about their goals, short-term, mid-term, and long-term. Ask where the inefficiencies are, the holes, the bottlenecks, the revenue losses.
If your offer solves for their needs, great! But it doesn’t end there. You also need to ask about timeframes and urgency. Are they looking to solve their need(s) this month, quarter, year? Do they have a timeline to share with you? Ask for it! The more questions you ask here, the more they will talk. If they have a need they want to solve sooner than later, you have a buyer signal.
2. Are They Asking Thoughtful Questions?
This is one of the most important buyer signals to look for, as it really signifies interest and whether or not your prospect is going to invest in you. If the questions are stale or non-existent, your prospect just isn’t interested (or can’t buy for other reasons). But if they formulate thoughtful questions that get to the heart of you both working together, then you’ve got a buyer on the line.
And let’s be honest, your prospect doesn’t want to waste their time or your time. So they simply won’t ask great questions if they aren’t going to buy. With that in mind, here are the types of questions to listen for:
- Can you explain how your product has helped companies like mine in the past?
- How does the onboarding process work / what kind of lead time am I looking at?
- How do you assign your representatives or consultants to specific accounts?
- How is your approach/product better than your competitors’?
- How do you measure ROI to know when to stay the course or pivot?
3. They Agree to Next Steps
Remember this sales axiom: Time kills all deals. Your deals will die on the vine if you don’t put next steps on the calendar. So this is a huge buying signal, especially if you sense their eagerness for the next meeting. Just remember to book next steps as soon as possible from the last meeting, or as close together as possible. In fact, book the same day if you can, or at least the same week. This way everything is fresh in your prospect’s mind, and if they agreed to the meeting, you know they’re a high-potential buyer.
One critical thing to consider when agreeing on next steps is making sure you have an actual decision-maker at the appointment. They need to have control of the budget and authority to use it on your product/service. So be sure to explicitly ask the question: Do you need to bring anybody else into the process so that a final decision can be made? Hopefully the answer is no. But if the answer is yes, you need to ensure that the decision maker attends the next meeting.
4. Do They View You as a Trusted Advisor?
Who are you in your prospect’s eyes? Are you just another salesperson who’s looking to close a deal? Or are you someone who genuinely wants to help? There is a huge difference here. Are you taking the time to listen to their wants, wishes, and desires? Do you express humility and a deep desire to solve their problem? This is who you need to be in their eyes.
You can’t always know how you’re being perceived, but thankfully you can control how you communicate. Communicate with empathy and authenticity, and the rest will take care of itself. Your prospect will see you as a trusted advisor. TRUST is key here. Once you gain their trust, they are far more likely to buy from you. Look – they want someone who can walk alongside them, not just this year but next year, the year after, and well into the future! Be that person!
RELATED: The 5 Second Rule in Sales
Buying signals aren’t always mysterious or fly under-the-radar. If you know what to look for, some of them are in-your-face obvious. Three of the four main buyer signals that I’ve highlighted above are pretty obvious. This means you can be (and should be!) looking for them in your sales meetings starting today.
Now, you might be asking yourself why it even matters if you can identify these signals. I mean, aren’t you going to try to close the prospect either way, whether you’re seeing buyer signals or not? Well, it matters immensely for the following reasons. First, if you know your prospect wants to buy, you can get right to it (I’ve seen sales people talk themselves out of deals). Second, it matters for the ongoing relationship because you can soften your approach once you know you have a buyer. And finally, it’s just important to know where you stand with the people you communicate with, whether in sales or other areas of life.
So with that, it’s time to go out and become a pseudo-detective in your sales meetings. Start sniffing out these buyer signals and you’ll be doing yourself (and your sales numbers) a huge favor.
Until next time…