There will be times when the Prospect’s cues are so strong and positive that there is no break between your presentation and the Prospect’s agreement: it’s as if there is one continuous flow to the communication. In those happy cases, you don’t really need to ask for the order, as the Prospect’s words or actions make it clear that all that remains is to work out the details.
The actual cues that signal interest will depend to a large extent on the individual’s unique mannerisms, so you’ll need to be alert and flexible. To get started, attune to basic areas such as those following.
■ Non-Verbal Signals. If the Prospect is sitting forward on his chair, nodding his head, muttering words like, “Great! Exactly what we need! Yes, I see how it fits in,” then you have strongly positive buying signals. That is probably the point at which you should stop trying to persuade the Prospect, and instead move on to wrap it up by closing for some kind of buying action.
■ Questions and comments. It’s usually a positive signal when the Prospect begins asking about practical matters, such as, “How soon can you deliver? or “Is it available in (a certain color or size or other similar detail)?” Questions of this sort imply that the Prospect has basically made the decision to buy, and now has moved on to settle the details.
■ Certain kinds of objections can be buying signals. If a Prospect asks detailed questions about your product, or about how it differs from your competition, you probably have a signal of interest. After all, busy people don’t get into the details unless they see a good reason for them to do so. The fact that the Prospect is interested enough to explore this kind of practical issue signals that the Prospect is at least testing the What-if of buying. The trend is positive, so be ready to move with that trend.
■ Interest in haggling over details. The sale is probably yours if the Prospect initiates tentative negotiating probes over matters that would be relevant only if the sale is going through. (The sale is yours, that is, provided you can negotiate mutually-agreeable terms.)
For instance, a Prospect might say, “You’re talking about too long a lead time before you can install. The delay is costing me money.” But analyze what she is saying beneath the words, which probably is, “I’m ready to buy, provided you can speed up delivery.”
Incidentally, these buying signals by the Prospect may not be consciously sent, so it’s important to look through the actual words and gestures to find what is really meant or implied.
The Prospect may not have actually decided to buy — at least not on a conscious level — but the interest in delivery times betrays what’s really going on in his mind. If you’re attuned to that, you can adapt appropriately.