I mastered the art of reading buying signals as a salesperson, manager and coach. In selling it’s incredibly useful to gauge where the buyer is in their personal steps involved in buying.
Verbal signals, such as utterances of interest, specific questions which revealed where they were and whether I was ready to present the solution with some optimism of success.
Successful salespeople listen for buying signals without even realising.
Upon meeting my customers face to face I calibrate their physiology, better known as body language to help me suss them out and look for subtle changes indicating a concern, happiness and agreement. I relish observing body language, facial expressions and leakage.
I know instinctively where they are in their buying process so I can close.
But now things have changed. Firstly, we’re on the phone or video link so observing subtle changes and facial expressions is not so easy. And secondly, the customer arrives on the phone or video when they are far along in their buying process. Some estimates gauge this at 75% and when we have the chance to speak with them, they’re in charge and will buy on their terms.
They’ve been all over the internet for the first 75% of their buying journey but just like footprints in the sand, they leave footprints on the web. And with software, these footprints can be seen. It’s a little like using infrared imagery to see footprints that remain invisible to the naked eye.
- An open indicator in your emailing programme shows they opened a marketing email.
- Clicks showing on the same email.
- Cookies showing which pages of your website they visited.
- Indicators showing which White Papers they downloaded.
- Time spent on specific web pages.
- Videos on YouTube they’ve watched.
Are you feeling a little creepy right now? It’s natural, you might maintain this is stalking your prey. But it’s not. Back in my estate agent days, customers would walk into the shop, I would wish them a good morning and they would browse property details, maps and photos of the area, details of the mortgage schemes I had available. A sensitive ice breaker would bring me into the conversation and I knew instinctively where they were in their buying process. I was allowed to observe them, it was my shop.
And your website is your shop now, so you’re entitled to observe them and use an ice breaker to begin the conversation.
Get over it, you’re not stalking.
Assess the online buying signals and test where they are in their buying process.
Don’t use the corny “How can I help you?” but you do want to help them further with useful information to progress their buying. You mustn’t interrupt and start selling. They’re in control and want to maintain it.
They may have questions, so send them an FAQ page or a link to a video that explains further answers to the issues you think they might have. Begin an email dialogue, catch them up and then engage further.
A useful exercise is to do a Day in The Life of your typical buyer, starting from when they developed the problem that your product/service solves, what typical steps they take online. Map their buying process and see where they go with your online presence.
Buying processes are far more important than the old sales process.
Now you probably read my term “leakage” from earlier and thought, what was that? Leakage is where someone suddenly changes their physiology (body language) to indicate pleasure or a problem. It’s usually an indicator of a problem and helps you to iron out the issue with questions or information. In the old days an objection was probably heading your way.
Listen carefully, read between the lines of your customer’s emails to listen out for leakage in a similar manner. Then handle it carefully. You might have come on too strong, interrupted their buying process, they may not need or want your help. You might have come across as too “salesy” and scared them off.
The sales process has changed so much in the last 5 years and online leakage is very hard to spot. Wait until we can do this with virtual reality!