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How do you know when a client is thinking of buying your services? They start to give off buying signals. This blog post answers the question, what are buying signals? Then, when you recognise a buying signal how to progress the sale swiftly to a conclusion with your potential client.

What are buying signals

Before I answer the question, ‘what are buying signals?‘, I need to dig into the client buying journey. Before a client will buy your services, they will progress through a number of distinct stages. If you try and close a sale or pitch a client before they have got to the ‘buying’ part of their buying journey your sale will go nowhere. For example, the meeting may end prematurely or you may be sent away with a ‘send me a proposal’. However, in this instance, send me a proposal means anything but. It means go away and I will go very quiet on you!

Before a potential client gets to being ready to talk about potential solutions they will go through these early stages.

Status Quo

This stage is characterised by everything being fine in the client’s world. It is incredibly unlikely that you will be able to get face-to-face or air time with a client in this stage. After all, everyone is just too busy to embark on a sales conversation for a service they don’t need.

Problems and needs

With the pace of business moving so fast these days, virtually no one is in Status Quo. They are more likely to be in ‘Problems and Needs’. This is where have a niggle or something to worry about. Or it could be a massive crisis. However, big their problem, they have a problem. When potential clients are in Problems and Needs, they will be searching for answers to their questions or problems. One of the things they want to know is, ‘do I need to worry about this problem?’. At this stage you will not see buying signals. Your role now is to explore with them their problem and help them understand the severity of it. Only once the potential client is motivated to take action will they start to Define Their Outcome.

Define Their Outcome

When your potential client gets to this stage they will start to give off early Buying Signals. By this I mean their conversation will turn very logical and tactical. You will be asked questions such as ‘how long will it take?’, ‘what do I need to watch out for?’ Only when your client gets into Define Their Outcome can you start to suggest and explore solutions with them.

Supplier selection and explore solutions

When your client gets into this stage they are very serious about buying and will be giving off clear buying signals. These are typically questions which check your credibility to deliver and how much it will cost. E.g.

  • Where have you done this before?
  • What will the work cost?
  • Can you send me a proposal (this has a health warning)

It is at this point in your potential client’s buying journey you can start to talk about submitting a proposal and closing the sale. You may even find that your client does the closing for you, e.g. they ask you, “so when can we get started with this?”

Why ‘send me a proposal’ is often a full stop not a close

Sometimes potential clients will ask for you to send them a proposal when they have absolutely no intention of buying. For the potential client it is a way of quickly bringing the conversation to a close and getting you out of the door. Unless you have heard clear buying signals such as questions about your credibility and cost to do the work AND the client has explored with you a solution, then ‘send me a proposal’ is unlikely to be a buying signal.

In summary

What are buying signals? They are evidence that your potential client has gone through the early stages of their buyer journey and are in ‘supplier selection and explore solutions’. I.e. they will have got very interested in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of a solution/service for them, and they will have checked out your credibility and likely cost.