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

January 25, 2021

So, you’ve identified the right moment to reach out to your prospect using critical buying signals, you’ve personalized your outreach, and maybe got a little creative with custom video content, and voila! You’ve successfully connected with your prospect and they’ve agreed to speak with you and see a product demo. 

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

Purchase intent is actually pretty easy to identify, but only if you know the verbal and nonverbal buying signals and cues to pay attention to. Interestingly, 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 the verbal and nonverbal buying signals 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 they complain or share frustrations about their current provider or service, that’s a clear indicator they are looking for a new, better solution. 


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 good buying signal. Be prompt in your response to this, 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.

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 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, but 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: