“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
– Mark Twain
You’re a pro when it comes to sales. You know your product, honed your listening skills, and are responsive to the prospect’s needs. You’ve learned how to posture yourself to make a good impression. Yet, for all your efforts, there seems to be more ‘ones that got away,’ than ones ‘in the bag’. To make matters worse, as you review your meetings, you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong. Chances are, it’s not your actions that stand in the way of more sales, but your words, and the way they’re perceived.
You’re smart too. You know when you make a sales call, your number one priority is to listen to the problem and provide the solution. You have the little stuff down – remembering their names, repeating their issues to gain clarification. But what words are you using to convey that? Do they support your efforts?
Words have meaning. The words you choose to deliver your message have an enormous impact on how you are perceived. And because words invoke feeling on the part of the listener, they consequently hold the key to whether your prospect wants to become your customer.
Let me give you an example. As salespeople we know the importance of perspective. Putting ourselves in the prospects shoes to better understand his needs. Yet, our natural response – whether in person or on paper, is to frame our responses from the perspective of our companies. Unconsciously, it creates a division between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Instead, practice responding from their point of view. A simple turn of phrase can make all the difference in the world.
Prospects want to know you understand what they’re going through, that they can feel ‘safe’ with you, can trust you and rely on you to take them to a better place.
With that in mind, here are 7 powerful words and actions that can spell the difference between a prospect and a converted sale.
- You. It goes without saying, to always take the prospects perspective. Rather that listening to his problem and responding with your usual company ‘shtick,’ try rephrasing your script making the prospect your top priority. For example, instead of leading with what your company can do for him, try rephrasing his problem with, ‘I understand you would like to see ___________and we can do that for you.’ See the difference? You’re saying the same thing, but making a subtle shift to make your prospect the subject of the sentence, it shifts the perspective and makes his needs your top priority.
- And. Most of us use the word ‘but’ far too often. It has a negative connotation. ‘But’ implies limitations. ‘And’ connotes expansiveness.
- Value. We’re trained to sell the benefits of our products. From a customer perspective though, we’re well aware (and it’s well documented), that customers most often make purchase decisions based on value added. The bells and whistles they want aren’t the product features. It’s trust and reliability.
- Do. Never tell a prospect you’ll try. Trying is a maybe. It’s a cop out. Always use do. You’ll do it. You’ll have it. It’s a promise. It’s your word. Keep it and you’re golden.
- Because. This is a magic word. Whether the answer is yes or no, because offers validation for your response.
- Imagine this/What if. Take your prospect out of his pain. Help him imagine what his world will feel like once his problem is resolved. It’s not only an emotional relief, but a story in which he can be the hero.
- Should We. Your meeting goes well and you think you’ve developed a good rapport with your prospect and you may even feel there’s an emotional connection. You’re comfortable enough to assume it’s a done deal, so you ask ‘Should I put together a quote/proposal/contract/whatever. When you’re shot down, you don’t know what went wrong. Repeat after me: ‘I will NEVER assume anything. Once again, remember you must always take the perspective of your prospect. While you may think you have agreement, you risk being construed as too sure of yourself, too presumptive or even overbearing to the prospect. After all, you will, essentially be working for him. Don’t make him feel that he would be abdicating control by working with you.
A final word: Always provide options. In life there is never one answer or one solution for anything. There are always possibilities. Never provide one option to a prospect. You’re putting yourself – and your prospect in a ‘take it or leave it’ situation. Multiple options open the door to continued discussion, opportunity, and most often provide the key to winning the sale.
What about you? Are there any words or phrases you would use – or not use – to enhance your sales?