Chapter 13 How to Ultimately Tell the Buying Signs of Your Customer – Innovative Selling


How to Ultimately Tell the Buying Signs of Your Customer

There is a plethora of information on the web discussing and analyzing customer buyer behavior. We have touched on buyer behavior and its psychology, but to me it is the most important process to master and understand.

Coming out of sales and coaching, I wish I could master this process without the mystique that surrounds it. Many professional salespeople I know say, “I use my gut feeling in the end” to ascertain the customer buying position, meaning, “I look at the responses and body language of my customer and make up my mind on that alone.” Unfortunately, I and many others have been wrong at times.

I would say about 95 percent of salespeople entering into a key sale with multiple KDMs involved need to know where they sit in the sales cycle, who is on your side, and whom you need to work on further. Again, emphasizing the use of project sheets to identify who is a KDM and to identify the true buyers is a good starting point. Even the most experienced salesperson is still perplexed, with some customers’ decision-making processes. The following is a list to consider:

These are some of the buying and non-buying behaviors to look out for:

  • The customer who will not give away his or her thoughts and decision.
  • The buyer who gives you continual feedback but will not give you any indication.
  • The customer who likes you but is not saying too much about his or her decision.
  • The buyer who is always on your side (a coach) and guides you in the right direction.
  • The customer who likes your solution but dislikes being with you (personal dislike issues).
  • The customer who will buy from you always, regardless.
  • Some of the preceding behaviors are, under certain circumstances, mixed together and confuse the seller further.
  • The customer who continually sends you up the wrong path.

My strategy is not to let buying signs or behavior influence me until we have established relationships and product fit to customer need, and priced acceptability is understood.

Some say the order is not in until the f…t lady sings.

Using body language assessment is important with the checklist of customer behavioral traits. Let’s look at a few:

Posture is a key to the openness of the customer and their seating positions. The customer gaze shows interest or disinterest in your message; the face and expression are key as you engage directly with people. The customer is easily distracted and will answer their phone, disregarding your presence, even avoiding eye contact.

The Negative Body Language to Look Out for

The customer has crossed their arms, showing disapproval and lack of genuine interest in your solution. If the customer leans away and you lose the body–eye connection, again, disinterest is the overall message. If the customer refuses to look you in the eye and has no genuine eye contact, you have lost GFA (gaining favorable attention), or the customer has more important things to do and you are wasting their time.

If the customer can’t remove themselves from the e-mail or phone and places objects on the table in your view, this is a distracting practice. If he or she shows a great deal of fidgeting, tapping, distractedness, or a complete lack of interest in your presence in the room, you have to start again. Finally, if the customer makes excuses to end the meeting prematurely (“sorry, Mark, I have to go now”), I would review your initial approach.

All these negative body movements and posturing send a clear sign of disinterest and lack of positive body language. To come back from this point is difficult, but I would recommend the following solution.

In most cases, if you have lost your customer’s attention, pushing the reset button is necessary; but how do you do this? The salesperson has to think quickly and ask a pertinent question—“Jan I feel I have not proposed the right solution for your company needs.”

This is why you need to know the 7 steps of the sale process.

Poor past representation takes time to repair, and your customer is constantly critiquing every move you make and request they ask for. It is vital in this situation that you do all requested tasks on time and professionally so as to regain faith and trust. Regaining trust takes a great deal of time to secure, so be patient, methodical, respectful of the customer, and, under no circumstances, talk over them; the customer must feel they are in charge.

Positive Body Language (But Watch Out)

We would all like to encounter positive body language at every sale; however, this is not the real world. Even the most positive reaction from your customer does not assure the sale. Essentially, you want to see the following body and eye language reactions: friendly facial expressions, positive body posture, direct eye contact, customer touch such as a firm handshake, customer voice modulation, which may be loud, medium, or soft. Pay attention to inconsistencies but will be forgiving of your silly mistakes, and the customer will laugh with you in the conversation—a general friendliness.

These are some of the tell-tale signs that may ensure you are on the right track for good communication skills while moving through the sale.

However, even if you receive positive body language and you think you are “in,” the customer could be just a friendly person but not showing buying signs.

Here Are Some Tips to Help Your Own Body Language—Be Mindful of Your Presentation

  • Prep with an open and conducive pose when seated, not too powerful.
  • Fire up your energy level so you are ready to sell.
  • Always smile and look attentive for your customer.
  • Don’t pretend you know everything.
  • Don’t gesture above your shoulders, and keep your hands and arms to your side or on your lap.
  • Use your hands when talking, but do not overdo this.
  • Use props to engage such as a tablet or a brochure.
  • Be totally respectful to your customer.
  • Do not overdress according to the industry you are selling in.
  • When jotting down notes, try to keep your eye contact as best you can.
  • Avoid the pauses that sometimes enter the sales.
  • Keep calm and be the listener, not the major talker.

Summary: Are Female Salespeople Better Than Male Sellers?

My personal opinion is that women are way more perceptive than the majority of male sellers. Women appear to be able to spot incongruence between the spoken word and body language during the personal sales contact.1

This is especially in a female to female sales situation.

Psychologists at Harvard University conducted a study that showed that women pay more attention to body language than men. Why is this? The participants were asked to watch a short video of a conversation between a man and a woman. The participants were asked to decide what was going on by reading their expressions. The women scored accurately 87 percent, and men 42 percent.

So, on the basis of research and anecdotal evidence of men versus women sellers, the women should be selling more and being more successful. My hunch is that male versus female success rates in general sales are equal across the board but that female sellers get past this stage faster.2

The further question which should be explored is: are male sellers better to male customers? My hunch in this case is that the conversation will take on a more blocky discussion. This does not determine the sales end result.

Either way, it is the fit for the position that determines the end result.

Selling in Summary

When I first began in sales, I thought this would take a long time to master. Well, sorry, it takes a lifetime to master. As we grow, we are able to learn more complex lessons and tasks.

Corporate training in product and sales should take priority, and ongoing field coaching should be a part of company policy whether the company has a trainer or coach or not; if not; the sales manager should assume this role. Unfortunately, the research is tragic for this ongoing problem, and I hope this book has highlighted the need for effective training.


In the end, your company will forget you quickly (Jim who?) and move on with your replacement. If you think you are irreplaceable, then think again. Big global sales organizations care little about you in the end. You are just a number to achieve the overall sales budget. Yes, they do care about people but if you are not performing to their expectations, you will have a limited tenure. This has become the DNA of selling for global organisations.

Setting aside the personal contacts you develop within your team, higher up the food chain, your worth to the senior management team, working in a faraway country, means little. So an understanding of your Me Brand and the skill you bring to the table is what you provide to your company. Your worth is valuable to companies while you are performing, but when times are lean in sales, management will move you on very quickly.

In the end your Me brand Is the promise of another job in another company that may appreciate your skills. Keep honing this talent and protect it with a great deal of vigor.

I find it sad that we, as a sales profession, have been accepting of such poor corporate behavior. We can only blame ourselves for allowing such disgraceful business behavior to proliferate; if we had been willing to push back against this behavior in the 1960s, I am sure our position would be more valued now.

Australian Qualitative Research

It was a surprise to me that the research results came in with such a low score. This confirmed to me that there was a need to uncover the truth. One particular company I researched early on was so low in its score, I was really surprised. I interviewed sales managers apart from salespeople, and, unfortunately, they colored their answers with mistruths, trying to pump up their position to cover up what was really going on. There were a few sales managers that held high positions and told the truth about the treatment of sales professionals.

A review of the overall results shows an average of 40 companies rated job satisfaction at 53 percent, indicating that 47 percent of salespeople are having problems and that their company is not addressing their needs. Yes, you can pick the eyes out of this research, but the numbers don’t lie, especially as low as they are.

The purpose of this book is to bring to the attention of salespeople the pitfalls of working for global organizations and reveal that the way business is run is at the expense of salespeople satisfaction. I don’t bear a grudge against these organizations; however, I want them to understand that salespeople are the key to their success and hence that the overall training and support are necessary.

Being happy in our job is the final clue to a successful career in selling. Being healthy and having the support of your organization are the priorities; everything then falls into place. I do hope that whoever reads this book takes stock of his or her own organization’s performance and endeavors to improve the life and careers of professional salespeople.

If I have perhaps given some simple but profound help to you, I have been successful too.

Overall Australian Research Results

To be completed by Researcher—Eden D. White
Deadline: January 1, 2016 to June 25, 2018 to be completed by June 25, 2018
Percentage Planning & Prep phase. De By Outcome Notes
100 Planning timelines January 1, 2016 all planning to be completed by due date
100 Preparation of timelines January 1, 2017 all preparation also to be completed by due date, with all 78 questions of research completed
100 To interview 40 candidates; to be completed by December 1, 2017 December 25, 2017 ensure all candidates’ data entry completed by due dates
100 Enter data and compile by December 15, 2017 December 25, 2017 compile data and report on overall results of 10 elements recorded
Research 10 Element Questions (rating of 1 to 10) for each question Notes recorded
65 1. Sales Force: Describe your overall satisfaction with your current sales position December 25, 2017 35% of respondents were dissatisfied with their job satisfaction
71 2. Relationships: What importance does the company place on their sales professionals? December 25, 2017 71% thought they did OK, but 29% were scathing about the lack of overall support.
61 3. Management: What importance does management place on company sales staff? December 25, 2017 39% of sales staff considered their management did little to keep good performers.
65 4. Recruiting: Do you think recruitment agencies provide all the appropriate assistance? December 25, 2017 35% of respondents were very unhappy with the ethics and assistance from recruiters.
63 5. Training & CRM: Could your company do better in product & sales training? December 25, 2017 37% of respondents said their companies were below par for training programs. Although 63% of respondents claimed their company was making an effort, they reported that they trained in product well but not in selling the product effectively.
61 6. Personal: Do you believe companies provide appropriate support for sales professionals? December 25, 2017 61% said they did, but 31% said their companies performed very poorly in this regard
76 7. Incentives & Salary: Do you think incentive schemes provide drive to work harder? December 25, 2017 24% of respondents said incentive schemes did not drive them to work harder; however, 76% said they did; many commented on the complicated mathematics in their commission schemes and the timing for payment & honesty. In addition, many said their commission paid was the last thought on their mind but liked the idea of being paid extra for effort and achievement above budget.
59 8. Performance: What effort does your company make to keep good salespeople? December 25, 2017 41% said their companies were genuinely motivated to keep good sales staff, but 29% said they did not care about keeping good sales staff.
35 9. Occupation Health & Safety Do you think your company takes all precautions to ensure the safety & welfare of all sales staff? December 25, 2017 65% of sales staff interviewed expressed concern over their companies’ attitude regarding their welfare and safety. This is the highest negative score recorded for the research.
41 10. General: Does your company provide all the tools salespeople need to be successful? December 25, 2017 Another sad response from 59% of respondents, saying they do not receive the sales tool support they need to be successful salespersons.
Key Research Feedback Results
51% Overall wellness and satisfactory score December 25, 2017 Of all 40 interviewed candidates, the overall wellness and satisfaction average of their organization performance was reported to be very low, at 51%. Many respondents had severe unhappiness and complained their companies did not support them in many key areas. Specific issues centered on lying and deception before and during the employment stage, commission issues, lack of training for product knowledge, and lack of in-field training on how to sell the product. Lack of leadership was also cited as a critical problem with sales managers and the loss of ongoing support as a new salesperson. Job satisfaction was important and consistent through the survey. The lack of product and sales training and a general lack of support contributed largely to the low satisfaction score. HR recorded a low score, citing lack of support during sales team conflict and the inability to resolve it. In addition, companies paying lip service to safety and working late night hours remained constant in the research.
54% Overall score for all data average score 54 out of 100 points was the average score.
23% Female interviewees # 23% were female.
67% Male interviewees # 67% were male.
92% Number of medical/device/capital survey interviews 92% of medical/device and capital people interviewed.
57% Number of overall salespeople interviewed 6% overall of trainers interviewed.
27% Number of sales managers interviewed
26% Others interviewed In the candidate list, only 10% were female.

Reference Listing

The listed references are suggested for good reading

Reference List Topic
001 Quotation from Thomas Edison
002 The 80/20 Rule of Sales: How to Find Your Best Customers
003 Researcher, E. White 2016/2017 over 40 global companies’ results
004 Psychosocial work environment and mental health among traveling salespeople/Article: October 26, 2010
005 Field Coaching Best Practices for Sales Managers—Published on June 28, 2014
006 Striking a balance between proactive and in-the-field sales coaching
007 New Scientist, January 27, 2018, studying workplace stress/Denmark
008 Information overload in sales—a recent study, by marketing research firm CSO Insights,
009 Trait test for reader, Eden White, 2017
010 Work Ombudsman,
011 Are Sales Teams Bullying CPG Senior Management to Reject Change? By CPGToolBox, Jun 29, 2016, Blog
012 March 25, 2011March 25, 2011—Managing A Prima Donna Salesperson
013 Corporate deception: where do we draw the line on lying at work? July 1, 2016, 9.35 pm AEST
014 What to do when your Boss Lies: How to Take Action—Chitra Reddy
015 How to deal With Stress in Sales, Published November 23, 2016 by Nick Hedges. Nick Hedges discusses the same issues we have dealt with, stress being the precursor to burnout.
016 G. Harris, G. Mayho, and L. Page. 2003. “Occupational Health Issues Affecting the Pharmaceutical Sales Force.” Occupational Medicine 53:378–383. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqg118
017 Article EE Roughed, 1 August 1999, APMA Code of conduct. G. Harris, G. Mayho, and L. Page. 2003. “Occupational Health Issues Affecting the Pharmaceutical Sales Force.” Occupational Medicine 53:378–383. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqg118.
018 2 personal accounts of mistrust from an employer
019 Differences Between B2C & B2B in Business Systems/by Ian Linton; reviewed by Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA; Updated January 29, 2019
020 Executives’ perspectives of the changing role of the sales profession: views from France, the United States, and Mexico. The customer relationship management (CRM) market will be worth $37 billion in 2017.
021 Posted by Stacy Bouchard, August 26, 2015 1:00:00 PM
022 Provo study, December 2016
023 Sales Commission Structures: Which Model is Best for Reps?
024 The Disadvantages of Percentage-Based Sales Commission Plans/Author Luke Author
025 Are these commission issues causing you to lose reps, Kendra Lee, October 2014
026 Sales Budget: Definition & Examples—by S. Robert, February 14, 2018
027 Sales Territory Alignment: An Overlooked...—Semantic Scholar
028 Medicines Australia’s Code of Conduct, which was established in 1960, has been revised on a regular basis. Code of Conduct Edition 18
029 UK—The ABPI Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2018
030 Health Care Division Bureau of Competition Federal Trade Commission Washington DC 20580 and FDA 2018
031 the current state of sales training US
039 7 Reasons Why Sales Training Fails
032 The poison that’s killing your sales, July 5, 2017, John Bedwany. B2B, Sales, Social Selling B2B, Strategic Selling
033 Lack of Corporate Training as #1 Driver of the “Skills Gap” September 2015
034 Preparing New Sales Reps for Success: The Importance of On-the-Job Training and Coaching, May 1, 2017, Taryn Oesch, CPTM
035 Posted by Carole Mahoney/the science of role play to improve sales.
036 CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study
037 Ashok Sharma, May 10, 2017, Corporate learning 5 Key Strategies to Improve Sales Training and Development Within Your organization
038 5 Types of Selling Styles—Which One is Yours?
039 Selling Styles for Successful Salespeople. Posted on June 20, 2008 in Selling Skills
040 How to Adopt a Sales Mindset—Thirteen simple rules to become your own sales superstar
041 9 Bad Sales Habits Every Rep Should Avoid—James Meincke, January 3, 2019
042 Procrastinating: how to stop it so you can sell more, by Anis 2018
043 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
044 The benefits of mentoring new salepersons by Ray Taylor, April 29, 2016
045 Sales Courses/find your right fit online first
046 Identifying the 5 Key Decision Makers in the Sales Process, October 2018 by Zachary Cohen
047 Pipeline research by Wendy Connick, October 2017
048 What is a Sales Funnel, Examples and How to Create One (Guide) Home Analytics Last Updated on January 15, 2019
049 Blue Sheets—Not Just for the “Sales” Department, December 2, 2017
050 How to Overcome Fear of Selling, May 30, 2012 by Susan Martin
051 4 Things Mentally Strong Salespeople Do That Average Reps Don’t
052 Nine ways to overcome fear of rejection in sales
053 Prospecting the future.
054 200+ Sales Statistics You Must Know—Real Data for 2019 & Beyond
055 The Harvard Business Review/cold call issues
056 Teaching Sales/Suzanne Fogel, David Hoffmeister, Richard Rocco, Daniel P. Strunk, Harvard Business Review
057 3 Excellent Reasons You Should Walk Away from a Sale. May 17, 2016, Will Humphries
058 Science of
059 Who’s Better at Selling: Men or Women? Data From 30,469 Sales Calls/Written by Chris Orlob
060 Inbound organization – How to build and strengthen your company’s future using inbound principles by t Hockenberry 2018.

Source: Hubspot consumer behavior survey, (2016) 43% of consumers want more video content in 2017.
Please note: after numerous approaches to the Miller Heiman corporation and their new owner, to seek their approval to mention certain products such as Blue Sheets or SPIN, the refused to reply to all our approaches we made.


Note: After numerous approaches to the Miller Heiman corporation and their new owner, to seek their approval to mention certain products such as Blue Sheets or SPIN, they refused to reply to all our approaches we made.

1 Science of

2 Who’s Better at Selling: Men or Women? Data from 30,469 Sales Calls/Written by Chris Orlob/Current research seems to place women with the upper hand in sales today.