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How to Tell When Customers Are Ready to Buy


Disciplines > Sales > Sales articles > How to Tell When Customers Are Ready to Buy

What's going on in their heads | What you see | Signals to spot | See also


How can you tell when customers are ready to buy? When they come into your premises or when you are talking to them, they will, by themselves, reach a point of closure which you need to spot.

When your customers are ready to buy, they will tell you. Sometimes they will immediately place the order, but mostly, they will tell you by subtle signals in their verbal and body language, along with specific things they say and do.

What's going on in their heads

When customers switch from interest to desire and readiness, they reach a state of mental closure where they imagine owning the product. Closure is a pleasant experience as the brain rewards them for making a decision.

However, after the closure on the tension of 'Do I want it?', the decision 'Yes I do' leads to another tension. This creates a wanting-owning tension gap which propels them towards purchase.

What you see

This transition between tensive states can be seen as a blip and shift in how they behave and communicate.

The closure appears as the blip, a short period where they relax as the tension of uncertainty about buying ceases, and before the tension of desire begins. This can be very brief and as short as a quick smile or nod.

More noticeably, there is a behavioral shift as the tension of desire to own sets in. This tension is felt differently to the previous tension. Before, there was the prevarication of uncertainty and information-seeking to support the choice decision. Now there is fear of loss and information-seeking to confirm choice.

Persuasion now reverses as they now have to persuade you to provide the product at the best price and as soon as possible, as opposed to the previous stage where you had to persuade them to want the product. Note that if you stay in this previous persuasive stage, you may lose the sale as they give up on you and buy the product elsewhere.

Signals to spot

Signals you can see may be verbal, non-verbal (body language) or specific actions.

Verbal signals

Here are some of the things people may say when they are ready to close:

  • Saying yes or making significant positive noises: When they are feeling positive about the product, they will also be more generally positive.
  • Saying things like 'right' and other decision indicators: The decision to buy will leak into their language in all kinds of ways.
  • Talking about money: Seeking the best price.
  • Asking usage questions: As they imagine themselves using it and pause at uncertainty points.
  • Asking about timescales: They want is as soon as possible so are interested in delivery, setup, learning, etc.

Body language signals

Here are some of the body language signals that customers may display when they are ready to close:

  • Showing positivity: Smiling, nodding and other signs of feeling keen.
  • Moving forward: Including leaning in or even touching you as they seek to connect with you in a more influential way.
  • Hurrying: Talking faster to get to ownership sooner.
  • Gazing at or touching the product: Covetously imagining ownership.

Action signals

Here are some of the things that customers may do when they are ready to close:

  • Reading literature detail: Repeated examination of information and pictures.
  • Taking measurements: Checking it will fit.
  • Playing with the product: Practicing owning it.
  • Bringing others to view it: Seeking confirmation.

See also

Using Body Language, Buying Signals, Closure principle


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