Open Eyes, Ears To Avoid Overselling

Friday, March 23, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 12

Salespeople have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The formula for sales success is 80 percent listening and 20 percent talking. Good listeners “hear” more than just the words their prospects speak. They also pick up on nonverbal cues.

Interested prospects inevitably communicate buying signals once they make the emotional decision to do business with you. The emotional decision is typically made before the rational decision. Once that emotional commitment is made, the prospect begins to seek rational justification for the decision, which is when buying signals emerge.

If you’re not tuned in to these buying signals, you may make the fatal mistake of overselling – continuing to sell past the point at which your prospect is ready for you to close. Not only are you providing your prospect with additional material that could raise further objections not already on the table, talking too much is also an indication of insecurity or weakness. Overselling can quickly result in the death of a sale.

Some of the most common buying signals include: smiling and nodding, a sudden leaning forward in the seat, reading the fine print, working through related calculations, suggesting you review the proposal with another person on the team and asking questions related to closing. Closing questions are often about pricing, financing, payment terms or production and delivery details.

While it may seem counterintuitive that objections could be buying signals, when a prospect objects to your price, he is likely saying he’s interested in working with you, provided you can help him get comfortable with your cost model. He seeks rational justification to support the emotional decision he’s already made. Help him get there by restating your value proposition as it relates to your price.

Savvy salespeople pick up on the subtlest of cues because they watch for behavior changes – a distinct change in behavior that differs from the prospect’s “norm” – indicating purchase intent. It’s as though a switch were flipped, as given away by the prospect’s body language.

If he didn’t look through the product samples in the first part of your meeting but all the sudden begins browsing your materials with a renewed interest, he may have decided to move forward and is simply seeking more details regarding how he might do that.

Most often, when a prospect holds his chin, he’s giving serious thought to your proposition. If there’s a natural break in the conversation, allow time to think and avoid the inclination to fill up the silence. If your prospect looks up and makes eye contact with you, the decision to proceed has likely been made. Then it’s time for your closing question – tout suite!

To avoid overselling, just open your eyes and ears. All the answers are right there in front of you.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing,, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (