There are so many things to think about during a sales call. Did you do a good job of establishing rapport? Did you ask good questions? Did you explain the features, advantages and benefits in a way that speaks to your customer’s needs? With so much taking place around you, it is easy to overlook one very important aspect of the sales process, the part where the customer begins to give off clear signals that he is ready to buy! That’s right; sometimes we get so focused on selling that we fail to notice when the customer is sold and ready to close the deal. If you continue to drone on and on much past this point, you can sometimes end up offending the customer and risk losing the deal. To avoid this embarrassing development, learn to look for these signs that your customer is ready to buy.
Body Language and Non-verbal clues
You can usually tell if your customer is getting into your presentation by his body language. If he is interested in what you are sharing with him, it will show on his face by the way he maintains eye contact with you and smiles knowingly when you explain important points. He may also lean forward, as if to take in everything you are saying, and nod in agreement. The more relaxed, focused and responsive the customer appears to be, the better that is for you.
If you are presenting to a group, be sure and observe the way they interact with each other. If you see them exchange smiles and knowing looks with each other, or comment to each other regarding important features, that is a good sign. Also, if they decline to take messages or return calls during the presentation, this tells you that they are taking this presentation seriously. The make-up of the group can also provide you with important information. If you are presenting to key decision makers – the buyer, the user and the CEO, for instance – you know there is strong interest in what you have to say.
Level of customer response
To be honest, if the customer is yawning, fidgeting, checking his email, staring out the window or sitting back in his chair with his arms crossed, you are not yet close to making a deal. The situation is not hopeless; you just have more work to do. However, if he or she begins to question you regarding important aspects of the sale, you may be on your way.
Questions like the following indicate that your customer may be so close to saying yes that they are already thinking ahead:
How will the product be delivered?
How is the paperwork handled?
How are change orders usually handled?
If the questions shift from how to when or where, you know your customer is definitely making plans to use your product. Questions like the following are always good news:
When can we take delivery?
Where would be the best place to install it?
When would payment be due?
Once you begin to receive When or Where questions, don’t be afraid to deviate from your standard presentation script to test for a possible closing. For instance, if your customer asks when they could take delivery, feel free to respond with, “If I could get it here and have it installed by the 15th, do we have a deal?” There is no use wasting time if they are ready to close now. He may not say yes, but he almost certainly will respond with another question that will help you identify the real issues that still stand between you and the closing.
Sometimes your customer’s body language may seem encouraging, but not definitive. In addition, he may not yet be asking those leading questions that show he is ready to buy. In such cases, there are a few things you can say to help break the ice and get ready for a closing. You will find any of the following questions to come in handy for situations like this:
How do things look so far?
Does this make sense to you?
Do you think this might work for you?
Do you think you would be interested in something like this?
What questions do you have at this point?
The type of answers you receive will help determine what direction to head next. If the customer stays positive, you can continue in the present direction. However, sometimes you might get a non-committal response or even an objection. Don’t panic – this information is very important to know. Now you can adjust your presentation so that it addresses your customer’s needs even more clearly. Just use this as an opportunity to ask clarifying questions regarding what your customer wants or cares about the most, then reconnect the benefits of your product to address those needs.
Above all, remember that this is a conversation. The point isn’t to cover every point on your script; the point is to reach a rapport with your customer that will help you understand how your product can help him the most. Pay attention, notice when you have achieved that goal, and don’t be afraid to move toward the close.