Words that Sell

Choose your words with care and close more sales

A simple phrase—seven words—catapulted Paul ahead of fifteen potential competitors for the prospect’s attention and possibly his business!

The Paul I’m referring to is Paul Crozier, our Manager of Business Development. Some of clients knew him as Mr. Velcro because of his fantastic persistence. I knew him as the consummate sales professional.

In any event, Paul was recently prospecting (making cold calls) over the phone and as part of his approach added the words, “Do you have a moment to talk?” The prospect replied, “Over the past two weeks, I’ve had fifteen training companies contact me, trying to sell their services, and you’re the only person who had the courtesy to ask if I had the time to talk. For you, I’ll make the time. Not the others.”

There it is. A short phrase, a simple act of courtesy, and the door opens to a potential sale. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference. For example, saying, “I’m not here to sell you anything. I’m just here to see if I or my company can be of value to you” or, “I know you weren’t expecting my call so I won’t take up much of your time” can take the pressure off the prospect and make him much more receptive to you and your message. These are more than simple phrases; they are words that sell.

It has often been said that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. What you say and how you say it is a big part of creating that impression — particularly if you’re making that first contact over the telephone.

Words that unsell

I know there isn’t any such word as “unsell” but there are some words that have a negative impact on the prospect and make it harder to sell. While there is nothing technically wrong with the words that follow, they can have a negative impact on the prospect’s senses. Let’s check some of them out.

Cheap. When a salesperson tells me something is cheap, I always think shoddy, poor quality, second best, etc. Remember, even if your price is exactly the same as your competitor’s, they’re cheap, you’re inexpensive! Instead of the word cheap, consider using inexpensive, good investment, good value for your dollar, etc.

Buy or purchase. There are some things people don’t like to buy but they will invest in things. I don’t mind buying groceries, but I invest in a good chainsaw. Instead of the words buy or purchase, consider using acquire, invest in, take home (as in, “would you like to take the chainsaw home with you today?”).

Contract. The word contract has an ominous legalistic ring to it. And to sign the contract conjures up a sense of commitment that can scare some prospects. Instead of the word contract, consider using agreement. The word agreement has a much better sound to it. But you never want to sign an agreement (see below).

Sign. Signing something is like carving your name in stone. Instead of the word sign, consider using the word approve. So, rather that asking someone to sign the contract, ask her to “approve the agreement.”

To be honest with you. Technically this isn’t a word. It’s five words (also known as a phrase), but it always has a negative effect on me. Whenever a salesperson says this to me, I want to stop him and ask, “Have you been lying to me up to this point?” Drop this trite phrase from your vocabulary.

How are you? While on the subject of phrases that unsell, “How are you?” is right up there when used as an opening to a telephone cold-call approach. It’s simply used too often as an opener. Whenever I hear it, I’m tempted to say, “Fine thanks. What are you selling?” As an opening to someone you know, this approach is a common courtesy, but when making cold calls, unless you really care to find out how someone is, I recommend you add this to the list of trite phrases to avoid.

You have to understand. Maybe I’m one of the few people whose defenses go up when a salesperson says, “You have to understand.”Whenever I hear this or phrases like it, what little hair I have on the back of my neck goes straight up. I don’t have to understand anything, and I don’t want to be told what I have to do.

Get someone to listen to your sales presentation to see how many words or phrases you might be using that may be having a negative impact on your sale. You may be surprised.

Words that sell

Words can make a difference. Apart from the sensory impact of words and phrases noted above, words can persuade or dissuade, sell or unsell.

            The psychology department at Yale University discovered the twelve most persuasive words in the English language to be:

            You                  Results
            New                Guarantee
            Discovery       Save
            Proven            Love
            Money             Health
            Easy                Free

So, feel free to use these proven words. You’ll be communicating to people with words they love to hear. When you do, you’ll make an important discovery. You’ll be helping your company make more money, you’ll save more time, and even improve your health with less stress. These words guarantee you new results by making it easy for people to do business with you.

Word masters

Professional salespeople are not fast talkers, they’re smooth listeners but when they do talk, they understand the impact their words can have on the prospect and the sale.

So choose your words with care and close more sales.