An open secret in marketing is that closing a sale is less about style than timing. You could be smooth all you want, but if you don’t know how to study your customer’s demeanor, overt verbal and subtle nonverbal signs, a lot of times, you’ll miss a sales opportunity because you didn’t know when to switch things up, adjust tactics or pile on the pressure.
Timing is often more important than a fancy close. You can pitch and keep pitching until you’re red in the face and still not be able to get a deal. How then can you know when you’re onto something or when to leave without wasting any more valuable time? Simple. Watch and listen carefully, customers will always let you know if and when they are ready to do business (with or without knowing it).
Since customers are different, there are a plethora of ways a customer can send a message that they are ready to buy. Some people may immediately place an order; others might be more laid back depending on the tone of their speech or the expressions they use, or their body language in letting you know they are ready to part with their money, but there’s usually a pattern.
Very often, when a customer successfully transitions from being merely interested in your product or service to readiness to pay for it, they will have reached a form of a mental closure having pictured owning the product or receiving the service. By the time they spend the money, their minds and bodies go through significant changes.
However, in the middle of these changes, there is a form of tension that either builds up or dissipates, and noticing these phases is key to knowing when and how to apply pressure to propel them towards purchasing. Most commonly noticeable is the subtle power shift from them having to be persuaded to buy the product, to having to convince you to sell it at the best price.
Here are a few clues to look out for. If a customer shows one or more of them, chances are they are already firmly at the threshold of purchasing.
Once a potential starts to ask questions beyond the basics, you have their attention. Technicalities focus on details, details focus on ownership. This means they have already visualized owning the product or receiving the service, played with the idea of it in their heads and want to be convinced to buy it. Someone who doesn’t want to buy something could care less about how it works. When a customer begins to ask for specifics, provide them with information and feel free to talk them into paying for it.
More often than not, when a customer begins to nod affirmatively, their minds have already accepted it and said yes. This is a classic non-verbal way of the mind agreeing. As long as you’re carefully monitoring your customer, it is pretty easy to spot. If the nodding is continuous, then you’re already in the semi-finals. Finish up your pitch and ask for the business.
As soon as a customer starts asking questions like how much does it cost, and, and what’s the warranty like, rest assured that they have understood how your product or service works and are willing to part with their money to get it. If you quote a price they can agree with, then it’s a done deal.
It is ironic how a lot of people often misconstrue customers asking about the price to mean objecting to it. It’s usually not the case. Asking for the price means that the customer has weighed the promise of the product and wants to see if they can afford it. If they ask you how much your product or service costs, do not dilly dally. Do not hesitate to ask them to buy, because of course they already know that it’s business you’re there for and all the sweet talking is a means to an end.
If a customer asks you to prove that your good or service can meet their need, say, a testimonial or examples of previous situations where it worked, best believe that they are ready to buy. It means that they are interested in what you have to offer, but they need you to make them believe that it can work practically. Customers are usually skeptical about buying things that might be of less use to them than was promised, so take this as their way of vetting you.
Whatever you do, do not take this as an affront or an objection. Asking for proof doesn’t always equate suspicion. Instead, it is them being diligent. Think about it this way: would anyone take the time to vet something they weren’t interested in buying?
This is the universal answer to affirmation. But a lot of salespeople still make the mistake of pitching beyond this point. Don’t do this. Once a customer says yes, do all you can to move the sale forward as quickly as possible. Why waste time trying to convince someone even after they’ve said yes? It’s like trying to make a plane lift off when it’s already in the sky. Close the deal and save your energy for the next customer. It is essential to always plan towards the Yes. While it makes things faster once the customer agrees, it’s also good to be optimistic. So, have all post-agreement formalities in place prior to pitching. If there’s anything you need them to sign, get them to do so as soon as possible.
In any business of providing value, noticing and understanding these signals are crucial to making sales. Salespeople are supposed to be vigilant and thorough enough to recognize these buying signals and respond swiftly and appropriately to not miss out on juicy selling opportunities. To make sure your observation skill is up to date and to improve your awareness of buying signals as well, you can decide to conduct a personal signal review after each business you conclude. Remember, customers will always tell you when they are ready to buy with or without saying it. You just have to be patient enough, watch closely and listen carefully.