The Simplest Buying Signal (Hint: You Already Do It Every Day)

So much selling advice is littered with complexity – here is one simple observation.

Every one of us is selling something every day. Sales people are pitching customers. CEO’s are convincing new hires to join the team or selling investors on putting money into the company vision. Even project managers are selling the rest of the team to stick to a plan.

But we all know that selling and closing are two different animals. There are many traits to great sellers. Whenever you are selling anything, you are trained to look for buying signals such as:

  • Asking about price and payment options
  • Asking when you can get started or when product would be delivered
  • Physical cues such as nodding their head or leaning forward

These all sound like good – if not typical – sales training pieces of advice. These and many others can be found all around the Internet and almost all of the articles and books are addressing what I would term as more transactional selling.

This is important for all of us and I would encourage all of you to find ways to look for these signals regardless of your position or experience when faced with improving your transactional selling opportunities.

But today, I want to address something a little less tactical and maybe a little more focused on zen-like selling opportunities. These might include:

  • Convincing someone to join your weekend cover band, or
  • Getting buy-in on that hockey tournament in another city, or
  • Opening up a dialog with a writer prospect to join a new community blog.

All of these are not life & death and most have a selling component but does not seem to be as critical as business selling. I believe there are many business-selling opportunities that feel like non-business critical selling.

So, when you are in these situations, should you look for the same transactional signals? I think there is a simpler approach when looking for buy-in from others.

I have found that in just about every one of these situations, people generally vote with their time and/or their money.

Looking for a buying signal, follow the actions of your prospect, if they write you a check or actually show up at your invite, you have closed the deal.

This article first appeared in INC.COM – find more of my articles there.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

2 comments On The Simplest Buying Signal (Hint: You Already Do It Every Day)

  • I read through your piece on what makes for a good startup CEO and several others. My business (prospectively) is the cannabis industry – specifically Industrial Hemp – which has applications in food, clothing, processing, and medicine. This “signal” you’re talking about is familiar, I have seen it in many of the people I have discussed this with. There’s an affection for CBD oil in cancer survivors which I haven’t seen for anything else in other group. I honestly thought that the choice of industry was a winner. An innate winner. Yet, I can’t get within arm’s length of anyone who actually invests in businesses professionally.

    My background was clinical labwork and science in undergrad and I am now in law school. I think I’m doing this thing you’re describing, but I’m clearly not doing it properly. Maybe it’s time for me to admit that I just don’t have the capacity for fundraising and pass the baton to someone else. Having an actual team would be great, but I was planning on handling the core components of the start up myself and hiring a consulting firm (MJ Freeway) for the pricepoint and sales model components of the business.

    As you say, time is the most valuable thing. I wanted to take this summer to incorporate and begin production. Every week I have spent without any payout feels like a weight. I see massive companies out in California, Colorado, an Arizona maneuvering to get into the market I have been watching.

    I won’t carry on, you have likely gotten the gist of my problem. I’ll keep reading through your posts and see what I can learn. My book-stack is already rather overwhelming, with classes, law review stuff, and barprep, but establishing a company is my primary concern. Any advice you have will be so very welcome.

    • Daniel – thanks for reaching out.
      My first thought is that you are trying to engineer a blockbuster instead of building a business. Think crawl-walk-run instead of the big swing. How can you get some momentum and sone validation for your idea first? With those in hand, investors will see less risk and start taking your calls and meetings.

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