Gitomer: The 21.5 early warning signals that the prospect is ready to buy

Questions show genuine buyer interest


Question: When is the prospect ready to buy?

Answer: He or she will tell you if you just pay attention (aka listen).

The link between the presentation and the close of the sale are buying signals. Recognizing the signals to buy is one of the nuance areas in the science of selling. I don’t believe that selling is an art; I believe that selling is a science. There are nuances to the process.

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When you get a buying signal, the science is you taking action. The nuance is your ability to recognize the signal. If you listen to the buyer, he or she will give you the signals. One of the problems is that salespeople don’t listen very well.

Buying signal quiz: The biggest buying signal is…

(A) Body signal or body language.

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(B) A question asked by the buyer.

(C) An objection.

Is it (A) body language? NO! That is a manipulative piece of crap!

Is it (C) an objection? Sometimes. The buyer is asking for information in addition to what you said, or different from what you said.

The answer is (B), a question. You may just be thinking of them as questions the buyer is asking… but that’s a big listening mistake! An objection means you haven’t sold me yet. But a question indicates genuine buyer interest. Your job is to listen beyond the question. Your job is to listen for the motive. Motive is a short word. Short for motivation. Get it now?

When you hear the question, that’s your signal to begin to ask for the sale or know that the sale is imminent if you answer in a way that reduces risk or creates some kind of green light to enable them (you) to move forward.

As a professional salesperson, your job is to recognize the question, the buying signal and then convert it to a sale. Recognizing it is the hard part. Here are the “how to recognize” ground rules…

• Here’s a rule of thumb: Any question asked by the prospect must be considered a buying signal!

• Here’s a rule of dumb: Preventing the question from being asked by talking too much, thereby preventing you from uncovering vital elements to make the sale.

Your job is to ask customers and prospects in order to give them an opportunity to think, respond and ask you. Questions beget questions.

• Here is a rule of dumb dumb: Avoiding the question by being sales cute. EXAMPLE: “Ahhhh how much is this?” “Well, how much do you want to pay?” Or even ignoring the question, which is what they taught you in old, manipulative sales school by saying, “If they really want to ask that question, they will ask it again.” Give me a break!

Don’t try to make the prospect feel bad while you use your arrogance and actually go past the sale.

But here is the rule of dumb da dum dumb. Answering the question and not asking for the sale. That would be called a big big big mistake.

So, here are the 21.5 buying signals and questions to look for:

1. Questions about availability or time. Are these in stock? How often do you receive new shipments? Now let me explain something to you. There is a principle in selling, which is the principle of leaning forward. Questions make the prospect lean forward with interest to the answer you provide. Now, when you understand these signals, you’re going to notice them all the time. Your job as a salesperson is to get the prospect to lean forward with interest. “What is your normal delivery time?” “What’s the warranty?” How much more of a buying signal could you want?

2. Questions about delivery. “How soon can someone be here?” Well, when do you need it? “How much notice do I have to give you?” Answer their question, and at the same time ask them a question to begin confirmation of the sale.

3. Questions about rates, price or statements about affordability. This is a big one. “How much does this cost?” “What is the price?” “I don’t know if I can afford it.”  What they are saying is “I want it!” The only question is, how much? So the next part of that would be…

4. Questions or statements about money. “How much money would I have to put down to get this?” Or even, “This costs too much.” Those are huge buying signals. When someone wants to know the price or what the terms could be, even if he or she is objecting to it, it means that the person is interested in it.

…There’s MORE – Nos. 5 to 21.5 are coming over the next two weeks. Stay tuned for more buying signals.

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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