You know all there is to know about your product but you have a hard time getting anyone to buy it... You can pitch until you're blue in the face but never close a deal.So how can you tell when a prospect is ready to buy? The key is in listening closely, because a customer will always let you know when he is ready to be sold.

Buying Signal #1. The customer tells you he has been searching for something particular, such as:

I am looking for a better way to store my data...

It would be great if membership could give me access to...

I need to be able to change the configuration of my office furniture ...

If a customer explains his needs in direct correlation to your product, it means your product has caught his attention--and he thinks some or all of its benefits may be worth something to him. He is looking for you to translate the value of your product into something valuable for him, and if you can do it, he will make a purchase.

Buying Signal #2. The customer asks a clarifying question like:

Can your product help me to...?

Your product can do X, but can it also do Y?

Could I use it to...?

A customer who asks if your product can be employed in a specific way has already identified a possible use for that product, and he is openly showing you his interest. If you can confirm that he has clearly understood your product and how it works, he is ready to buy.

Buying Signal #3. The customer inquires about pricing and terms:

How much does it cost?

Does it come with a warranty?

Is there an upgrade plan?

A question about cost indicates that the customer has understood how your product functions and agrees that it will work for him. He has also decided that he is willing to spend money to acquire the product. If you can layout his cost options and what they include so that he feels the price tag matches the value he will get, he is will say yes to the deal.

When you hear any of these cues, you and your customer are in the closing zone and you should not feel shy about asking for the sale. Asking for the sale is not aggressive or over the top. The customer is very aware (from the minute the conversation begins!) that you want to sell him something. What he cares about is that you are not going to sell him just anything, but that you are going to sell him the right thing. Asking for the sale is your responsibility, and the customer expects you to do so. It is what you have to do to help the customer make a buying choice that will in turn help him take his business to the next level. So how do you do it?

By asking your own questions in return.

You know there is a match between the customer and your products, but perhaps the selection needs to be narrowed even further?

You know there is a need, but when exactly is the product required?

You know there is a desire for the item, but is there a budget in mind?

The biggest obstacle to closing any sale is you. If you believe you might be "bothering" the potential customer or you're worried about coming across as pushy, you will never be able to have a real dialogue with your customer about why purchasing your product makes sense for him. On the other hand, if you give him the time to converse with you, and truly hear his needs, you can walk into the sale hand in hand.

Published on: Aug 8, 2014
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.