10 Verbal and Nonverbal Buying Signals to Watch Out For in Sales

So, you’ve identified the right moment to reach out to your prospect, you’ve personalized your outreach, maybe you’ve created custom video content, and voila! You’ve successfully connected with your prospect and they’ve agreed to see a product demo. 

So, how do you know if they’re actually interested in purchasing?

It all comes down to sales buying signals. Let’s unpack what these buying signs are so you can better determine the likelihood a deal will close.

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What is a buying signal?

So, what are buying signals in the first place? The definition of a buying signal is a signal that indicates a company or decision-maker has purchasing power (the resources and money needed to purchase what you’re selling). Buying signals in sales take many different forms, from company buying signals like raising a new round of funding or hiring new leadership, to verbal and nonverbal buying signals or cues a prospect might display in your interactions.

It’s challenging to create a single buying signals definition given there are so many factors at play — and it can be especially tricky in a tumultuous economic climate. The buying signals examples in this article are focused specifically on the verbal and nonverbal cues a prospect may display that indicate their true purchase intent. Purchase intent is actually pretty easy to identify when sales prospecting, but only if you know the verbal and nonverbal buying signals and cues to pay attention to. A lot of this has to do with understanding psychology and human behavior and, of course, mastering the art of persuasion and objection handling (without being too pushy).

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a sales pitch, maybe you’re walking a prospect through a quick demo. Here are a few examples of buying signals in sales (both verbal and nonverbal) you should be looking out for.


A prospect who is interested will show these positive buying signals: 


1. Nod and look genuinely interested

Have you ever been on a really great date? How about a really terrible one? Well, the fundamentals of understanding if someone is interested in what you’re selling are quite similar and just as obvious. 

If a prospect is nodding, maintaining eye contact and paying attention, you’re on the right track. While these nonverbal buying signals are more challenging to spot if you’re not meeting in person, you can still tell when someone is distracted or not paying full attention.


2. Stop to ask questions

Do you remember the good ol’ classroom days? In a lecture, those who sit at the front of the classroom demonstrate different behavior than those who always seem to find themselves sneaking off to the back of the classroom to catch a few extra Z’s. 

Front-row students are most likely the ones raising their hands and asking questions during a lecture. Interested prospects are the modern-day front-row-sitters — they’re asking questions, taking notes and, most importantly, not falling asleep during your demo.

It’s an even better sign if prospects ask questions during your demo, rather than save them until the end. You should encourage this, and make sure to leave time for questions throughout. In-the-moment questions are a clear verbal buying signal and indicator that someone is paying attention to the details rather than counting down the minutes left in the meeting.

Questions an interested prospect may ask: 

  • “Can you walk me through that again?”
  • “What is your most popular feature?”
  • “Can [your product] do ___?”

3. Share information about their needs

When a prospect shares the problem they need help solving, especially if it’s something your product can help them solve, they’re basically setting you up for a slam dunk. 

Of course, as part of your demo, you’ll probably ask about their problems and goals, but if they offer this information up unprompted, that’s a great verbal buying signal.


4. Share information about issues they may be having with their current solution

Even better than just sharing information about their needs, if a prospect complains or shares frustrations about their current provider or service, that’s a clear indicator they are looking for a new, better solution. This is one of the most important sales signals to not only listen for, but act on–be sure you can clearly articulate how your solution stacks up compared to the competition and make sure you point out key differences to your prospect.


5. Keep the conversation going

If a prospect agrees to a follow-up meeting or asks questions about the next time you will connect, you’re golden. Any verbal indication that they want to speak with you or a team member again is a very positive buying signal. Be prompt in your response, and make sure to schedule the next meeting as soon as possible.


A prospect who isn’t interested will show these negative buying signals:


1. Hesitate to schedule time with you in the first place

Someone who is interested in your product, and has a need for it, won’t dilly-dally when it comes to scheduling time with you to learn more. If they’re not responding to your outreach and are hesitant to schedule time, listen to the nonverbal buying signals they’re using and give them space.


2. Mention they’re still researching other solutions

If your prospects say they’re still researching, you might not be No. 1 on their list. If you can find a way to get information about who else they might be considering, be sure to prioritize communicating why your solution is better than your competitors’.

At the same time, just because they are researching doesn’t mean they won’t end up going with you. If they’re playing hard to get, they could also be trying to negotiate a better deal. However, it’s important to keep in mind that during a time of economic uncertainty, it’s possible that a prospect may not just be playing hard to get — their company may actually have a limited budget, and you should take that into account when negotiating.

If they do mention they’re looking into other solutions, you should take the opportunity to ask what they’re looking for in other solutions and if there’s anything they’re seeing other solutions provide that you don’t. This could give you a better sense of where you stack up against the competition and allow you the opportunity to better explain the specific features and/or capabilities that you do offer.

An uninterested prospect may say: 

  • “We’re still researching other providers.”
  • “We are looking into all of our options.”
  • “We are in conversations with a few other companies to find the best-fitting solution.”

3. Not share budget information

If a company won’t share budget information it could be because they don’t have a budget. Or, maybe they aren’t willing to let you know how much they’re willing to spend on a solution. If they are keeping their cards close to the chest on budget, they might not be in a position to buy.

This is where keeping a close eye on buying signs and signals like company funding, IPOs, SPACs, and mergers and acquisitions can be a huge help. Instead of prying for budget information, if you know a prospect recently had an influx of cash, you’re more likely to be talking to someone with a budget and the approval to spend it.

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4. Not introduce you to the decision-maker

Depending on the company, decision-makers aren’t always the first people you talk to. It’s more likely you’ll speak with a team lead or someone who is in charge of vetting and making recommendations to a higher-up who then makes the decision. 

In this case, if a prospect doesn’t mention they are going to share information with a decision-maker, or they don’t bring the decision-maker into the conversation at some point, you’re probably not on a great path forward. 


5. Say they aren’t interested

When a prospect says they aren’t interested, don’t take it as a challenge. One of the most important lessons a salesperson can learn is when to thank someone for their time and say goodbye. Leaving the conversation on a good, respectful note might even play to your favor later on. So, when a prospect says no, respect their decision.

Experienced sales leader and founder of #samsales Consulting Samantha McKenna is a huge proponent of being a gracious loser. Here’s her advice on how to deal with rejection: 


Find and close more deals with Crunchbase

There’s never been a more challenging time to sell. Buyers are inundated with mountains of spammy, irrelevant sales emails and sellers face fierce competition.

The good news is, sales prospecting tools like Crunchbase can equip you with relevant, real-time information about your prospects so you know if they’re in a position to buy before you reach out. You can even get automatic alerts when a prospect exhibits key buying signals so you can act quickly. And, when it’s time to connect, you can find verified contact data for decision-makers you’ve already pre-qualified and personalize your outreach with insights specific to your prospect right within Crunchbase so they know you’ve done your research.

By arming yourself with the right data, you can ensure each conversation you have with your prospects is well-timed and informed. With the right approach, you’ll certainly start seeing more positive buying signals and closing more deals.

  • Originally published January 25, 2021, updated July 9, 2024