In sales (as in everything else) the right language often leads to the right reaction. Use the right words, and your prospects will begin to see the benefits of your product or service. Use the wrong words, and you’ll find it harder to close deals.
As sales strategist and author Steve W. Martin puts it in Harvard Business Review: Successful customer communications are the foundation of all sales.”
That’s because the selling process always starts as a linguistic engagement before it becomes a financial transaction. Good language speeds up the transition. Bad language does the opposite. Very bad language prevents the transition from ever happening.
Hence, success in sales entails being aware of the verbal and nonverbal language of your customers. A big part of that is intimately knowing which words to use and which to avoid.
Sounds simple, right? In most cases, it is. But things can get complicated. For example, you can start obliterating cuss words in your selling vocabulary but even that noble (and somewhat exacting) gesture misses the point. After all, who hasn’t heard of foul-mouthed personalities like Gary Vaynerchuk and "I have so many websites" Drumpf who sell their brands despite a propensity for spewing cuss words?
The key, as you might expect, is context. What is the selling scenario? Which industry do you conduct business in? Who is your customer? How can your product or service solve the customer’s problem? Do your customers have a tribal mindset? Can you consider yourself part of that tribe? What’s the best language to use in building trust? Which words help tilt the customer’s purchasing behavior in your favor?
Because these factors vary considerably, a bad phrase for one specific selling scenario might be something neutral or even beneficial in another. Given the shifting market realities, the best strategy you can adopt is to have 1) a default selling vocabulary on safe mode; and 2) a customer engagement process that will help you discern the optimum linguistic approach for a specific client or type of customer.
Poor communication often causes negative business outcomes. That's among the key findings in a study sponsored by The Economist and Pearson English. Upgrading your business vocabulary helps minimize the negative impact of poor communication. One way to do that is to avoid using words or making statements that erode interest, motivation and trust in your brand.
Consider the following factors when building, trimming or expanding your selling vocabulary:
While the language of selling may vary across industries and markets, effective sales communication largely depends on a single factor: your customer. Get to know your customers intimately – how they talk, what their key concerns are – and you’re a step closer to making them consider your brand a viable solution to their problems. Use the keywords and phrases your customers are using to establish a genuine connection between your brand and their buying decision.
Customer preferences and sensibilities change over time, and so should your product and the language you use in selling it.
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