Skip to content

Sales and customer behaviour: Mapping buyer response modes

It is key for startups to understand customer responses to sales propositions and to be able to map these buyer response modes. The term “response modes” describes a potential customer’s behaviour or reaction to a sales proposition.
As described in the article Buyer response modes, there are four potential buyer response modes to change:

  • Growth
  • Trouble
  • Even Keel
  • Overconfident

As a seller, there are three phases involved in mapping buyer response modes—for every phase you can leverage the stakeholder management chart.

1. Preparing for the sales call:

When planning your strategy, leverage any sources of information that can shed light on the target customer’s overall situation. Pay close attention to areas of the business that do very well or very poorly. For public companies, any information disclosed in analyst presentations or quarterly result presentations can provide significant indicators. Any personal contacts with deep knowledge of the company could offer even more relevant information.

2. During the sales call:

Look for symptoms of the customer’s particular response mode. If the buyer suggests that everything is fine, then further probing might indicate that the buyer is in either Even Keel or Overconfident mode.
At this point, verify that you have an accurate understanding of the buyer’s information and ensure that the buyer understands the basics of your offering. Read more about value proposition for more details on emphasizing the benefits of your offering.

3. After the sales call:

Update your stakeholder management chart with their specific response modes. Ask yourself: Can I close the deal without the support of those buyers in Even Keel or Overconfident mode?
If the answer is no, then you must determine if you can develop a supporter into a Coach who can help you convert the buyers in Even Keel mode. If that leaves only the buyers in Overconfident mode, then do a trial close, although there is a risk that you will have to wait.

Become great at sales. Check out our free Selling for Entrepreneurs online course. It provides over two hours of expert sales instruction designed for startup founders who want to lead sales and accelerate company growth.


Heiman, S. & Sanchez, D. (1998). The New Strategic Selling. New York: Warner Books, Inc.