Customers who decide not to do business with you are often labeled by inexperienced salespeople as prospects who ‘need to think about it’. Often, it's that the salesperson hasn't listened well enough and especially hasn’t picked up on a buying signal.
Recognizing buying signals is a must for every salesperson. How do you recognize a buying signal?
A buying signal indicates that a customer has mentally passed the decision-making moment. They imagine themselves already driving that car, sitting behind that desk, or working with that temporary worker.
A buying signal can be a single word. Customers who ask for more specific details such as delivery and payment terms are sending buying signals. When a salesperson who listens well picks up these signals, a 'yes' to your service or product is just around the corner. You just need to ask. Often, a customer becomes more animated in the conversation, bringing in their own examples from their situation or experience, wanting to discuss these with the salesperson. They may mention 'other quotes' and want to present these to the salesperson.
A direct buying signal must be immediately recognized by a good salesperson. For instance, the customer may directly inquire about purchase options. This is often done unconsciously. If a customer asks: “Do you only have 24-pack packaging or also 36-pack?” and your salesperson says: “I believe we do have those,” what have you gained? Nothing!
A better response might be: “If I arrange a 36-pack for you, would you prefer to receive it now or next week?” Here, it's crucial that the salesperson asks a closing question, putting the customer in a position to make a purchase decision.
Buying signals can also be non-verbal. The customer makes gestures or facial expressions, and agrees with what you have to offer. Not every buying signal will lead to a final sale, regardless of how well you handle it. However, noticing and correctly responding to buying signals will definitely lead to extra sales. And extra sales mean more revenue.
To turn a buying signal into an actual sale, you need to pick up and respond to the signal as quickly as possible. Every signal you catch and respond to brings you closer to the sale. Missing these signals means you take a step back each time. Unconsciously, the customer will then distance themselves from the salesperson. Good listening, probing, observing (watch for non-verbal behavior), and responding appropriately are key. It can be said that everyone faces buying signals in almost every sales conversation. These can be positive or negative. Untrained or less sharp salespeople often misinterpret these signals as resistance, an objection, or a personal attack on themselves, their product/service, or the company they work for. By nature, these salespeople tend to shut down, get defensive, or just keep talking, resulting in the conversation not ending with a sale. Treat each buying signal as an opportunity. Every salesperson can learn this. But ask yourself: “Does my salesperson really listen (well enough)?”
By: Michel van Hesse
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