Recognizing and Managing All-Important Buy Signals


Brokers speak to hundreds of owners a week about selling or buying properties. Since only about two or three percent of properties trade each year it is important to identify the truly interested from those who are simply a time drain. A great way of identifying real interest is through “buy signals”.

SEE ALSO: Ronald Dickerman on Madison’s Purchase of Forest City’s New York Retail Portfolio

Buy signals are expressions of interest that demonstrate a desire to move forward in the sales process. A broker’s ability to read and react to buy signals is important to his success. Here’s why: if a broker misses buy signals or reacts to them poorly he will spend time with a number of sellers or buyers who have no actual interest in transacting business and not move the interested parties to the closing table.

There are two steps in successfully managing buy signals. The first is to recognize them and the second is to respond confidently and assertively to them.

Recognizing buy signals begins with the realization that they can be both verbal and nonverbal. A simple and almost imperceptible change in actions, attitude, tone, expressions or gestures can cue a desire to move forward in the process. Here are five types of buy signals that brokers will often see or hear.

Affirmative signals: These occur when the person figuratively hits you over the head; no broker should ever miss these and yet brokers do all the time. For example, when a seller says, “I am looking to sell my property”, “Can you market it quietly” or “That approach makes a lot of sense” he is telling you that he wants to move the process forward.

Recognition statements: Sometimes a person will admit that she needs a broker’s help inadvertently. For example, an owner may say “My partner was thinking about selling the property” or “the market is hot so it may be a good time to sell.” Alternatively, they may say “I am meeting on that tomorrow” or “I just met with another broker.” These statements provide clear insight into a person’s interest level and thought process.

Ask questions: “How” and “what” questions are great indicators of interest. “How long will it take to sell?”, “What is the property worth?” or “What can I do with the proceeds?” all show interest to transact business.

Asking another person’s opinion: When an owner says, “I need to speak with my partner” or “let me speak to my attorney/accountant” it is a sign of interest.

Nonverbal signals: The body and voice rarely lie. Nonverbal buy signals play a critical role and include a forward lean, nodding of the head or a positive and excited voice.

Of course all of these can be politeness or put-offs, so it is important to use a “trial close” to differentiate between the two.

Trial closes are when a Broker asks for a little commitment that will push the relationship forward. When a broker hears or sees a buying signal, he must recognize it and then use a trial close.

For example, if an owner asks “How long will it take to sell my property?” the broker should provide the answer and then ask a question. The broker should say “four months. Since time is important to you would you like our team to come out tomorrow or Friday to take the photos?”

Another example is when asked if the property can be marketed quietly the broker can say “Yes, we can market it quietly and ensure you receive top dollar for your property. I would like to market it to the 10 most likely buyers. Is that okay?”

Time is the enemy of deals and by recognizing and managing buy signals, brokers can drive the sales process forward.