While riding with a sales rep one day during some free style drop-in prospecting visits, I decided to turn our time together into a teachable moment. Upon leaving the office, I told the guy when we stopped for lunch that day he should expect me to administer a pop quiz about our touches that morning. He agreed but had a, what’s this all about look on his face.
I wanted him to be able to tell the difference between a Tarzan and a Tire-kicker after only one short encounter. It turned out that he didn’t do that great on his lunch-time quiz. Before we left for our afternoon fieldwork though, I spent a few minutes coaching him on some of the various ways people communicate with others.
That afternoon, after several more hours of chatting people up, I gave him another pop quiz on the way back to the office. This time he passed with a solid B. What do you suppose he learned that day that would improve his future performance?
Knowing whether you are talking to a prospect or a suspect is a prized possession in sales, and that’s what this young rep learned that day. Many are afraid they are being too pushy, while others just hang back waiting for buying hints.
You may be chuckling, but people really do tell you when they are ready to purchase by the signals they send. The dilemma is that too many reps are so heck bent on completing their sales presentation that often those signals just don’t register.
To win big in sales, you’ve got to learn to recognize and respond to both types of signals sent your way; verbal and non-verbal.
Here are some verbal signals to recognize, coupled with examples of how they may sound coming from a buyer:
- Asking the same question twice – “Did you say there is a cap on the annual increase from year to year? Would you repeat that one more time?”
- Picturing themselves as a customer – “Would I have to be home during those monitoring visits?”
- Asking for a trial/demo of your product/service – “How about a loaner for a week to see how it integrates with our system?”
- Making positive statements or sounds – “Uh-huh”, “That’s pretty cool”. “I like that.”
- Asking challenge questions dealing with boundaries you may have established – “You mentioned a contract, what about becoming a month-to-month customer?”
- All comments about pricing – These indicate buying interest but also imply the buyers are not yet convinced about the value. Comments like these tell you there is more value building to be done. “I had no idea this would be that expensive? Are you sure you figured the price correctly?”
- Fishing for references – This is a strong signal and proves that reassurances from other customers will influence their decision. “Will you provide us the names of the other facilities in this industrial park that use your company?”
- Asking for your professional opinion – “What would you do if you were me?” “In your opinion will this work for us?”
- Bringing up a bad experience with a previous vendor – “The last time I was in this position I felt taken advantage of and don’t want to go through that again.”
- Questions about start-up timing – “What days do you send trucks to this area?”
On the other end of the spectrum, here are some non-verbal hints to watch for, which often signal buyer intentions.
- Open arms show receptivity, while crossed arms project defensiveness.
- Leaning forward and carefully listening shows interest.
- Propping up the head with one hand and gazing off into space means you’ve lost their attention.
- Tense posture is not a positive indicator since people tend to relax when they’ve decided to buy.
- Pleasant facial expressions that are animated signal that a prospect is relating well with you and toward your offering.
Not only should you try to understand all the non-verbal signals, you should also attempt to comprehend the feelings behind them, especially negative ones. This will help you have a chance to turn things around, so here are a couple of examples of how to jockey for position:
“I get the impression that I have lost you. How can I get things back on track?”
“I hear your agreement, but something is telling me you don’t feel that way on the inside. Would you share those thoughts with me?”
Don’t ever forget open season on salespeople extends year round, and prospects don’t mind at all wasting your time. Therefore, you should be careful and don’t get caught without an escape plan and a GPS!
Recognizing and questioning the signals you hear and observe will help you avoid spending 15 minutes selling your product and then another 10 minutes buying it back from them!
In order to sharpen your selling ax, listen to what others say as well as watch their physical movements. These observations will open up a complete new world for you and help you become a better salesperson.
———He Loves Doug’s DIY Training Materials———
Jay Carpenter, Chief Business Developer at Invision Technologies said; “Doug, your sales training approach is a dream come true for me, as I stay as busy as a one-armed painter most of the time. All I need to do is recognize where the sales folks are falling short and then pick a lesson that covers that skill focus for them to read prior to our weekly meeting. When I open my Leader Guide to that lesson and ask the first question on the page, an instant discussion ALWAYS begins. It’s like magic; I just ensure they leave the meeting with a new perspective that will help them improve.” Go see them for yourself HERE.