Humans make judgements pretty quickly. And what we say (and write) has a significant impact on how others judge us.
If you are in a sales role, or if you have direct client contact, how others judge you is really important. It can have a direct influence on how successful you are.
Let me tell you about three recent experiences:
- one in a pizzeria
- one in my office
- one on LinkedIn
Each experience has an important – and related – lesson for us.
But first, did you know…
English is the 3rd most spoken language on the planet (after Mandarin and Spanish) and is the official language of nearly 60 sovereign states.
So, there are lots of words we can use when speaking with prospects and clients.
Professional sellers know that choosing the ‘right’ word (a word that fits the situation, the context, the meaning, and the perception of the other person) can make or break sales opportunities.
Wrong word or right word wrong way = creating doubt in your ability
Using the wrong word, or using a word in the wrong way, can indicate that maybe you’re not really on top of what you’re saying and doing. It can plant a seed of doubt in the mind of the potential client.
Or the use of an inappropriate, or poorly chosen, word or phrase can undermine the main impact of your message.
(1) What happened at the pizzeria?
When asked about what makes the ‘Authentic Italian’ pizza so special, the young lady serving replied that the dough used for the Authentic Italian pizza is allowed to rise for longer. She added that all the other pizzas on the menu are “Just like you get at Domino’s or Pizza Hut”.
Hmmm… She made a hit with “the dough is allowed to rise for longer” and a big miss by saying “just like you get at Pizza Hut”.
If that was your outlet would you want your team telling customers most items on the menu are just like your competitors?
Maybe the server thought she was saying the right thing by using an analogy everyone would understand. However to me it is a tell tale sign of a lack of effective sales training.
Here’s an idea: Maybe the owner could create a list of all the questions customers might ask and formulate key point phrases staff can use as their response. Sure, leave room for each team member to talk their own way. But make sure they stick to the same story.
(2) What happened in my office?
I received a direct mail envelope sent by a promotional pen company. In the package was a free pen and a letter, written to convince me that using the pen would be a highly meaningful event for me and for my clients whom I would give it to.
They didn’t just tell me the pen was better. They wanted me to feel it. Not just in a physical way, but emotionally.
Descriptive, seductive phrases included:
- The silky smooth carbide ball…
- Effortless writing month after month…
- This is no ordinary writing instrument…
- You might expect to pay as much as $10 in fine writing stores…
Now, keep in mind this is for the usual sort of push-button promotional pen given away at industry events. They are selling them for as low as $1.69 each. You could look at it and think “What is there to talk about with this product?”
But in the style of true direct mail masters the pen company treats their product as though it is the ultimate writing tool that will make your life easier and so much more enjoyable.
Sure, the letter also mentions some relevant features, but they don’t get bogged down in feature-talk.
Interestingly one of the features is the fact that it has “a silicone nib that can be used as a stylus on a tablet or smart phone” – I guess in recognition that many people don’t write much these days.
So… instead of being an outdated piece of kit, this ballpoint pen becomes a modern MacGyver-esque office tool.
(3) What happened on LinkedIn?
I was following a group discussion that had quite a few differing viewpoints. One participant, who disagreed with a previous commenter, used the word ‘ingenious’ when in fact he was criticising the previous comment. The similar word he should have used was ‘disingenuous’.
When I first read the comment I was confused. The word (which was spelled correctly) was in total contrast to the other words used in the same sentence. The error forced me to re-read the comment to make sense of it.
Don’t make it difficult for others to understand what you are saying. Most people won’t bother to sort out what you really mean, they’ll just ignore you.
Using technology is so easy these days. In fact it is too easy. (And that was too with a double o.)
Click. Click. Tap. Tap. Scroll. Swipe. Scroll.
Take time to show you care.
Impatience and inattention can take over during modern communications leaving spelling and grammatical errors that distort the meaning of the original message.
As a sales leader you should encourage your team to take their time when communicating. Take time to check facts. Take time to review what they said, and how they said it.
And while they’re at it, encourage them to slow down and really listen to the other person. Most people don’t do it.
Using the write word doesn’t happen by chance.
(See I did it again. Same as in the headline. Yes I do know it is the wrong spelling.)