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Selling to the Relaxed Buyer


Disciplines > Sales > Sales articles > Selling to the Relaxed Buyer

Spotting the relaxed buyer | Handling the relaxed buyer | Using relaxation to sell | See also


One of the most difficult things to do in sales is to sell to a buyer who is relaxed and does not respond to tension-inducing tactics. Yet relaxing the buyer can be an effective technique.

Here's how to identify and sell to a buyer who seems relaxed, and also how to use relaxation to increase the chance of selling.

Spotting the relaxed buyer

In a negotiating situation, the buyer who has a good walk-away alternative can afford to be reasonably relaxed. Having no alternative is a recipe for stress and accepting any terms.  Being under time pressure to buy or having other more important things to do also increases stress. A buyer may alternatively be relaxed if they have sufficient funds (rich people seldom fret about making a bad purchase).

Relaxation hence may hence depend on:

  • Availability of alternatives

  • Not needing to buy

  • Having time

  • Having plenty of money

Relaxed buyers could hence:

  • Display few or no signs of stress.

  • Be distracted by other things where there is more stress.

  • Be happy to negotiate.

  • Be able to wait out the other person.

Relaxed buyers with may:

  • Focus on quality more than price.

  • Take time discussing the product and evaluating alternative products.

Being relaxed may also indicate a low score on the Big Five scale for Neuroticism, indicating a personality who has a low tendency to anxiety.

Handling the relaxed buyer

The first thing to remember when selling to the relaxed buyer is be relaxed yourself and not to go the opposite way and show tension, which is just what the professional buyer wants. In competitive negotiations, the most stressed person is likely to be the loser.

The sales person should never appear anxious to sell unless they are doing this deliberately (for example to empathize with anxious buyers). If you show a desperate need to sell, you are sending a loud signal that they can negotiate a hefty discount.

Subtly test the person to see how they respond to methods such as hurrying them up or suggesting scarcity. If they are hiding their stress then this should start to appear, perhaps only momentarily. Good negotiators are also good actors, and may only appear relaxed. A way of detecting suppressed tension is to look at the lower body. When we are trying to control body language we typically focus on the upper part of the body. Tense legs can hence give the game away.

The best response to a truly relaxed buyer is to slow down and go at their pace. If you speed up or pressure them, they may just go away. Play the long game. Listen to them to determine their needs and discover any levers you might use. Be friendly but beware of being drawn into time-consuming conversations that go nowhere. Provide them with information and be available, especially if they may make a significant purchase.

Handling the relaxed buyer is like fishing. You get them on the hook so gently they do not know they are there. Then you reel them in, carefully. If they pull away, let them move out, yet always keeping the lightest of tension in the line. Bring them closer whenever it seems possible. One day, you'll have fish for supper.

Using relaxation to sell

Having noted the above, relaxed buyers can also be more ready to buy. If a person arrives stressed, then this will make them more alert and perhaps suspicious of sales methods. If you can relax them, then they will be calmer and more open to suggestion. Be friendly and so build trust and rapport.

When pleasant music is played in shops, the intent is to relax customers and make them less resistant to purchasing, including less price-sensitive. Intelligent retailers know that relaxed shoppers spend more, so put serious effort into making life easier, including having clear signs, wide aisles, friendly assistants and so on.


This dual effect can be confusing, as relaxation can both increase and decrease resistance to selling methods. Knowing whether and when to focus on relaxation or tension is an important sales skill. A key question is who is in control, and how conscious the buyer is about their state of relaxation. Being deliberately relaxed and un-stressed can liberate the buyer to think carefully, yet if the relaxation of the buyer is under the control of the sales person, then they may steer the person into unthinking agreement.

In summary:

  • Play the long game with the relaxed buyer who comes ready to negotiate. Don't let them steer you.
  • Try to relax customers on your terms, so they are more trusting and question less. Then steer them.
  • Reduce their stress about non-product concerns. Increase their stress around desire to buy.

See also

Tension principle, Stress


Sales Books

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