Buying signals: What they are, and what to be alert for

Buying signals are clues that the mood has shifted and the other person is now ready to agree . . . or at least to be open to what you propose.

To clarify, a “buying signal” doesn’t just mean readiness to purchase; it also includes readiness or openness to take interim steps along the way—such as to hear you out, to hear more, or to take the next step.

These buy signals may come as words, as facial expressions, even as body movements such as relaxing tension, leaning toward you or your product to see it better, and so forth.

Precisely what these buying signals consist of will depend to a large extent on the individual’s own mannerisms. Nonetheless, we all share certain subconscious signals. Here are some buy signals to get you started; in time you will develop a sixth-sense for when the mood has changed.

Change in manner or tone. The other person may become more informal and relaxed in the way they sit or speak.

Questions are often subtle buying signals. Watch for the switch from questions about the product (which are basically looking for reasons to say No), to questions that relate to practical things like where you are located, or when you can come in.

Some statements may be indirect buy signals. A Screen who says, “Our budget won’t allow anything like that this quarter,” is, consciously or not, likely telling you that you’ve won, and it’s now just a matter of finding the right time when some budget dollars will be opening up.

Curiosity is itself a buying signal. Be attuned for subtle clues. If you’re selling, for example, productivity improvement software for the office, the Screen might probe for reasons to say No. But the Screen might also be wanting to know more because he is very eager for a way of easing his own workload. Often, the difference will be perceptible in voice tone, energy, and enthusiasm — perhaps even in the kinds of questions. If the questions are somewhat technical, that may be a clue that they have already begun looking for something like you offer.

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