Picking up the Signals While Selling
Mr. Russell is obviously very interested in Esmon’s product and Mrs. Russell initially seemed interested until the last comments her husband made to Esmon. He doesn’t know what happened to cause Mrs. Russell to lose interest and attempts to re-engage her, to no avail. Since Mr. Russell is clearly very interested, Esmon concentrates on him. Still, he makes eye contact with Mrs. Russell occasionally.
Mr. Russell continues to show strong interest. In fact, Esmon is sure Mr. Russell is ready to put his name on the dotted line, so he asks for the business. And much to his dismay, Mr. Russell turns to his wife, this woman who has apparently tuned out, and eagerly says, “Sounds great to me, hon, what do you think?” Mrs. Russell looks squarely at her husband and says, “Well, I don’t know.”
Many salesmen believe it’s all over at this point. They think Mrs. Russell just killed the sale because they believe “I don’t know” is a woman’s way of saying “no.”
Let me assure you, this is not the case. It’s simply Mrs. Russell’s way of saying, “I’m uncomfortable about something and we (her and her husband) need to talk.”
The possibility of a sale is highly probable if you will give them a few minutes alone to discuss what caused the discomfort. This is a very good time to excuse yourself to double-check something about the equipment, look for a particular brochure, anything, to allow them some private time.
THE EXPLANATIONHere is a likely explanation for Mr. and Mrs. Russells’ behavior:
The Russells had decided to talk with three different contractors as part of their decision process. And, likely agreed they would not make a decision until they had met with all three. And furthermore, they agreed they would not be sold a bunch of bells and whistles.
Chris Esmon is the first of three salesman they have appointments with this week. Now, Mrs. Russell knows her husband very well and could see all the signs he was ready to buy on the spot. When her husband turned to her and said, “Sounds great to me, hon, what do you think?” she really did not know what he expected her to say. After all, they had made appointments with three contractors and had agreed they would make a decision only after they had talked with all three.
Probably, as soon as Esmon walked out the door, Mrs. Russell, looking puzzled said, “You really surprised me. You were acting like you were ready to put your name on the dotted line right now.”
He probably said, “Don’t you think this sounds like just what we were looking for?”
At this point she may have said, “Well, yes, I do, and I know two of the people on the client list. But, since we had decided to make a decision after we talked to all three contractors, I had no idea you were serious about buying now before we’ve talked with the other two contractors.”
When Esmon walks back in he may be surprised to find both Mr. and Mrs. Russell are prepared to sign the agreement. They may ask more questions to clarify any concerns, but they may very well buy on the spot. And, if Esmon hadn’t given the Russell’s this important time alone, and instead, pressed to uncover the so called objection, the outcome would likely have been no sale.
Like Mrs. Russell, many women will make steady, unwavering eye contact with their husbands in an effort to communicate their confusion when he begins to depart from what they had discussed, such as not closing the deal until they talk with the other salesmen.
When that doesn’t work and he continues on this unscheduled course, she will break eye contact with her husband. Since he is so focused on the sales discussion, very often he doesn’t pick up on any of her signals. And, unfortunately, the salesman often doesn’t either. Ultimately, she will turn away from her husband.
For example, if she is sitting or standing next to him, she will turn away from him, not a big obvious flounce, just a slight turn. And if her shoulder is touching him, she will move or turn slightly so she isn’t touching him.
She will likely exhibit some or all of these warning signals. These gestures are subconscious, not deliberate. They are observable clues to the trained eye that she is uncomfortable about something.
When you see this behavior, be sure she is seriously included throughout the sales presentation. That means making steady eye contact, asking her relevant questions, and confirming your understanding of her statements and questions. When she doesn’t re-engage, this is your clue to go do that important double-check. You’ll quickly discover it’s very good for business.