- They’ve got a problem you can solve. A bit obvious, but a solvable problem is the first buying signal. And you can strengthen it if you can help your prospect articulate why this problem is a big deal for them personally, and for their business.
- Motivation. If they can talk about why it’s important that a solution like yours is implemented, you’re in a good place, and will get a better understanding of how promising a lead is. By questioning why a fix matters so much, or even questioning whether the problem they mention is really such a big deal, you can help them identify their motivation and will augment it simply by putting the spotlight on it.
- Curiosity. Asking questions. If they say how would that work? “Who else have you worked for in our industry? Can you give me an example?”, you can be confident that you have at least found some genuine interest.
- Openness. Sharing details about a current challenge or giving you insight into the buying process both signal a prospect in buying mode. (But don’t worry if people don’t open up to you straight away. Trust is earned, and it can take time and patience to secure it.)
- Internal changes. Letting you know about an upcoming review, a strategic initiative or a different budget allocation can all signal that an organisation is in the market for new solutions. Taking the time to fully explore what’s behind each change can bring dividends; it can help you for instance to identify whether there is an appetite at the top of an organisation to look at new solutions, or to distinguish between a benchmarking exercise and a go-to-market initiative which is likely to result in a new supplier.
- Giving time. Committing to spend more time with you in the future is a strong buying signal. Promising to send you some more information is a weaker one. Ideally you want to leave every meeting with a next appointment firmly in the diary for further discussions. When a buyer is willing to set time aside for you to develop the conversation further, you can be sure that they’re interested in the potential of your offer. If they seem unwilling, it’s worth carefully exploring what’s getting in the way for them. They may reveal a hidden reservation which you can then address.
- Mirroring. Mirrored body language is a classic sign that someone’s interested in what you’re saying when you’re there in person to see it. Harder to spot over the phone or on a video-conference but listen out for mirroring of language. Using the same sort of language, repeating your words back to you, or using your analogies in their conversation are all good buying signals.
- Thinking out loud. If a prospect can visualise how your solution could meet their challenge and shares that picture with you as you’re talking together, it’s a sign that they’re very interested. Helping a prospect imagine what their world would look like with your solution already in place is a great sales skill, so if this happens naturally they’re definitely on the path with you.
- Sharing potential roadblocks. Telling you what’s going to stand in the way of your solution getting the green light might sound like a negative, but it can often be the opposite. By sharing the potential barriers with you they’re investing themselves in the process. And even better, they’re asking for your help in navigating the blocks that stand in its way.
- Phone a friend. “I need to involve a colleague” is another sign that could be interpreted in two opposing ways. Worst case scenario, it could be a stall, or a sign that they’re not interested after all. Best case, they’re inviting you to meet other key decision makers, and to increase your influence inside their business. Telling you about other colleagues who will have an impact on the buying decision is usually a positive sign, and all the more so if they volunteer to broker introductions on your behalf.
- Timeline clarity. If your prospect has a clear view on when something needs to be in place, it’s often a sign that a plan has been agreed and approved, which means there’s more commitment behind it and more chance of budget availability. A statement like “We need something in place by next March” may be a very strong buying signal, and worth exploring.
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Some obvious, some neglected, and some not so obvious ideas to help you get more face time.
After compiling your sales hit-list, take a moment to make sure the contenders are worthy.
And how important is volume, anyway?