Home » Features » Jun. 15, 2009 – Best and worst buying signs: Can you easily detect them?

Jun. 15, 2009 – Best and worst buying signs: Can you easily detect them?

By Neil Pascale
What does it mean when a consumer begins rubbing their index finger behind their ear?
Or how about when they suddenly ask for that previously offered bottle of water?
Such seemingly mundane moments can actually be signs — for the good or bad — of how a new unit sale is progressing. Being able to identify those signs, both nonverbal or verbal, is the focus of a seminar that will be held at this year’s Powersports Business Conference and Expo. The dealership training event, which will follow the MotoGP in Indianapolis, will focus on improving a number of profit centers, including the effectiveness of the sales department.
Glenn Roller of the Glenn Roller Institute, which handles sales training for American Suzuki Motor Corp. and KYMCO USA, will be one of the speakers on hand at the Indianapolis conference and will identify some of the key buying signals.
“It’s just uncanny how accurate and simple these little gestures are,” Roller said, “but mostly people just have never been exposed to them.”
Roller points out such information — identifying body language and then deciphering what those signals mean — is readily available in plenty of books, although to a lesser degree in how such information should be used in a sales process. Roller says he has taken such information and then conducted field studies, including videotaping real-time sales encounters, to judge if the written word reflects the actual retail experience.
Those field studies have led Roller to several conclusions, including the fact that body language usually is a sign of the spoken one.
“In almost every case, the nonverbal always precedes the verbal,” Roller said. “In other words, I’ll scratch behind my ear, which means I have a desire to step away from you, before I verbally express it.
“Watch Simon Cowell on American Idol. When he’s about ready to have enough, he’ll do a nonverbal followed by a verbal.”
What are some of these nonverbal signs to watch out for on the showroom floor, and what do they mean? Roller will share most of these at the Powersports Business Conference and Expo but did note a few of the common ones:
Scratching behind the ear is “the most toxic body signal a customer could ever send to a salesperson,” Roller said, noting this sign usually is followed within minutes by “keys in hand with key to ignition between thumb and forefinger.”
Switching body positions to where the consumers put his hands on his hips is a common buying sign. “If somebody switches from slouching or crossed arms or leaning on a bike to stepping back into somewhat of a (hands-on-the-hips) stance, that’s an, ‘I’m ready to get going,’” he said. “Stop talking; help me get the unit.”
A shift in body language is often a buying sign. Roller notes many people don’t smile very much during the purchase-decision process. “They are serious, they’re scared, they’re nervous, they’re checking things out,” he said. “That will shift somewhere in the process, hopefully somewhere toward the end of the presentation, when they’ll start smiling. Smiling is a buying sign, especially if they haven’t been (smiling) all through the process.”
Determining what trust a consumer has in a salesperson could be determined by the simple question, “Would you like a bottle of water or cup of coffee?” Roller said. “If people are uncomfortable, they don’t like to eat or drink. So if they’re eating or drinking, they’re probably comfortable with you and trusting of you.”
A change between a couple, such as a wife and husband, often indicates a buying sign. Such a change can be either verbal or nonverbal, including if the couple has been energized during the sales presentation and then suddenly turns serious. “Anytime a shift occurs is usually a buying sign,” Roller said.

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