Gitomer: It’s not what you say that makes the sale

Here is a sales action for you to take: Become question-aware.

Here is another sales action for you to take: Listen with the intent to understand.

Every time you are asked a question, ask yourself this question before you answer it: Is the prospect telling me he or she is ready to buy?

That requires thinking way beyond your sales pitch. It’s the nuance part of the presentation. It’s where the sale is.

Below is the last part of the list of 21.5 signs and signals that the customer MAY be ready to buy…

14. Specific questions about ownership of your product or service. “Would you provide supplies each month automatically?” “Would you come by each month and pick up my accounting?” “Suppose I like the temp and want her to work for me full-time?” Those are the nitty-gritty questions of the buying process. The prospect is already owning it. You are being asked secondary (ownership) questions that say you are going too far. You should have asked for the sale a long time ago. These are questions that should come after you have completed the sale.

15. Questions to confirm unstated decision or seeking support. “Is this the best way for me to go?” Or, “What do you recommend?” Could they be leaning any farther forward without falling over? Your customer is looking at you for your expertise and advice. He or she is depending on you for your wisdom. When the customer asks, “What would you do?” and you don’t put ink on paper at that time, get out of there! You don’t belong there.

16. Wanting to see a sample or demo again. “Could I see those fabric samples again?” “Tell me about the warranty again?” When prospects ask to see or hear anything again, that is when you write the order.

17. Asking for a test or a sample. “Can I try this for a few days?” “Can you send me a sample?” The prospect is saying, “If this works, I will buy!”

18. Making buying noises. What’s a buying noise, Jeffrey? The prospect saying, “Oh! I didn’t know that!” or “Oh really? that’s interesting!” or “You know, that’s in line with what we have been doing.” or “That is something that I have always wanted to try.”

19. Asking about other satisfied customers. “Who else is using your product right now?” “Who are some of your current customers?” Here’s a clue: The customer don’t believe you, so he or she is asking questions about someone else who is similar so he or she can have enough reassurance to buy. Customers don’t always believe the salesperson because at some point in their life, a salesperson has lied to them.

20. Asking for a reference. If the customer says, “Can I contact someone you did temp work for?” That is a specific question that says, “If you can provide this for me, I am buying. Or if the customer says, “Do you have a list of satisfied customers?” and you go, “Well no, but I do have this list of loyal customers. Would you like to see it?” that’s how you make the sale.

21. Asking chicken questions. The buyer is always looking to lower the risk of ownership, but he or she starts out with something like this: “Suppose I buy it and it doesn’t work, or it doesn’t fit, or it’s not the right size?” What the customer is saying is, “Give me some more reassurance.” What the customer is saying right now is, “Don’t sell me anymore. Rather, reassure me.”

Ok, so there’s the 21. There is one more, and then the .5 of course. Ok, so the last one is SO BIG it needs its own space, so I purposefully did not number it.

The biggest buying signal of them all is the one most often never asked because you have employed the rule of dumb.

Giving away critical pricing information before it’s asked for, therefore precluding the biggest buying signal in sales–“How much is it?” This question is the single most powerful buying signal on the planet. If you tell your price at the beginning or send your price list in your info pack, you are taking away a huge tactical advantage in making the sale. The other “ask” I did not put in this list but that should be mentioned is when the buyer asks you, “What is the next step?” This is so blatant a buying sign it’s not really right to consider it a signal. It’s more of a hit in the face with a shovel.

And finally, 21.5. Your ability to convert any signal, sign or question into a sale. Every one of these buying signals or questions can be turned into a closing question that will lead to a faster sale, if you are paying attention, if you are listening with the intent to understand. With every pointed question, the prospect is saying, “I want to buy.” My question to you is, “How are you responding?”

Listening for, recognizing, and acting on a buying signal is critical to your success as a salesperson. You will go past the sale if you don’t. And many do.

Free GitBit – all three parts of this series are available if go to and enter the words BUYING SIGNALS in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books, including “The Sales Bible,” “The Little Red Book of Selling” and “The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.” His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at For information about training and seminars visit or, or email Jeffrey personally at

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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books, including “The Sales Bible,” “The Little Red Book of Selling” and “The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude.” His real-world ideas and content are also available as online courses at For information about training and seminars, visit or

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