Positive Talk Powers More Sales
One of the keys to increasing sales is creating a good first impression. When you sit down with a prospect, one of the strongest impressions you’ll make is the language you use during the sales process. Even when you’re acting on a referral, the wrong interaction can quickly destroy all the hard work you’ve put into building your business. It may not be fair, but many times, it’s all the prospect has to go on. That means these interactions take on a significance that extends far beyond the moment. Have you noticed some of the word choices you make when you talk with prospects? Here are five ways you can immediately begin to improve your language, and in the process, differentiate yourself from others.
First, never complain about anything. There’s often a disconnect between what you say and what people hear. When you say “I’ve had a lot of appointments today,” people can easily hear “You’re adding to my burden.” When you say “I had a lot of trouble finding your home,” people might hear “You’re making my life difficult.” Also, never complain about colleagues, the inefficiency of the home office or anything that would give the prospect a reason to believe that your organization is less than 100% professionally run. I’ve lost count of the times when asked the perfunctory “How are you today” I’ve heard people respond “I could be better. I’m at work.” When you give the impression your job is like a prison sentence instead of a profession, it doesn’t leave the prospect with a very positive view of the business.
Second, replace “got tos” and “have tos” with “get tos” and glad tos.” In other words, eliminate verbal expressions of drudgery in serving the prospect. For example, suppose you get a request for information you don’t have readily at hand. Do you say “I’ll have to look that up when I get back to the office” or “I’ll be glad to look that up when I get back to the office”? “Have to” gives the impression of obligatory extra work, but “glad to” expresses delight in helping your prospect. Remember, your reaction to a request shouldn’t make the prospect feel like an imposition.
Third, how do you respond when a prospect says “thank you”? A typical response is the standard “no problem,” or “not a problem.” You probably even say it with a smile and you intend the interaction to be positive. But that means the last thing on a prospect’s mind is two negative expressions. Think how much better an impression you make when your response to a “thank you” is “it was my pleasure,” “glad to help,” or “I look forward to being of service again.” You might even try the almost lost “you’re welcome.”
Fourth, never correct prospects, even they’re wrong. Instead, ask “What makes you say that?” in a quizzical rather than a challenging tone. It’s a non-threatening way to uncover what may be false beliefs. No one likes to be corrected, and in a sales relationship, it’s even more damaging. Sometimes, you’ll have to point out factual errors, but make sure it’s done in the tone and spirit of educating rather than correcting.
Fifth, when networking for new business, be results-oriented instead of activity-oriented. How do you respond to the question “what do you do”? Saying you provide long term care insurance is activity-oriented. Saying you show people how to have more control over their life at a time when most people are losing it is results-oriented. “I sell supplemental medical insurance” is activity-oriented. “I help people protect the assets they’ve built up over a lifetime from a medical catastrophe” is results-oriented. People care very little about what you do, but they care passionately about what you can do for them. Remember to focus on the results you can achieve for a prospect instead of describing your daily activity.
True professionals are those that consistently project a positive attitude in their communication with others. These suggestions focus on how to remove the unintended negativity in your talk. Most people aren’t even aware of how they’re affecting the prospect’s perception of their business. Try instituting just one change each week and you’ll begin to notice the effect on your business. They’re small changes, but they’ll make a big difference. ©2006 Peak Communication Performance
As the leading authority on the language of influence, Dr. Joseph Sommerville shows professionals how to increase visibility, credibility and sales through more persuasive communication. 1,500 audiences from 25 countries have benefited from his programs on how to increase business through better communication. He is the President of Peak Communication Performance (www.peakcp.com). Book him to speak to your organization at Sommerville@Peakcp.Com