When a prospect starts to consider buying from you, he probably won't come right out and say it. In fact, he might not even realize how interested he is. Instead of openly stating his interest, most prospects will start to make “buying signals,” in the form of either questions or statements. Being able to recognize these buying signals will give you a strong advantage.
When a Prospect Asks Questions It Is An Encouraging Sign
Any time a prospect asks you questions during your sales presentation, it's an encouraging sign. After all, it's a prospect wasn't interested at all he wouldn't bother asking you questions. But certain questions send a particularly strong statement of interest. These are generally questions that indicate the prospect is imagining himself owning the product.
For example, a prospect might ask a question such as, “Who will be responsible for supporting the product?” or “How long does delivery take?” These are extremely strong buying signals and should indicate to you that the customer is really interested. Once you've answered the prospect's question, you can develop his interest further by painting a picture of what his life will be like once he owns the product.
Another strong buying signal would be when a prospect asks you to repeat something or digs for more information. For example, he might say “What else can this product do?” or “Can you go into more detail about that last feature?” This tells you which aspect of your presentation or of the product itself he found particularly interesting. Such an interest usually points out a hot button or pain point that you can later emphasize in your presentation to help seal the deal.
Objections are usually a buying signal, although not as powerful a one. When a prospect makes an objection, it means he's considering buying but is concerned about one or more aspects of the purchase. Questions like “What if I'm not satisfied with the product?” or statements like “I can't afford this” mean that you've at least started to pique the prospect's interest.
When handling objections, remember that the prospect is trying to tell you he's interested but doesn't have enough information to decide for sure if he wants to buy. If you can give him the information that he needs, you can pretty much count on closing the deal. So objections are a good sign, not a problem – treat them with respect, and they'll lead you straight to a sale.
Objections aren't the only statements a prospect might make as a buying signal. If a prospect says something like, “That feature sounds fantastic,” or “This would work really well with our existing systems,” it's a pretty strong statement of interest. Keep in mind that in rare cases, a prospect might use such strong statements as a false buying signal. These canny prospects are trying to raise your hopes so that they can negotiate from a stronger bargaining position. Most prospects will make these statements in perfect sincerity, but it's wise to be a bit wary.
Easing Into a Purchase
A buying signal, even a very strong one, isn't necessarily your cue to dive into a close. Almost everyone has a resistance to being “sold” and if they start to feel like you're pressuring them, they're likely to push back. So rather than hit the prospect over the head with your most powerful close, try easing them into the purchase. If you get a strong buying signal, and you feel it's appropriate, it might be a good time to use a trial close. If the prospect responds well, you can proceed to the close. If not, you still have the option to back off a bit and continue with the sales process.