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A man who has just sold something

How to make sure you’re not using language that makes customers avoid you

By | customers, entrepreneurs, marketing, prospecting, sales tips, Training | No Comments

Positive Language can make a huge difference to your sales conversation, so don’t go using language that makes customers avoid you.

There are certain words and phrases that are considered clichés in the world of selling. If you want to avoid looking like an insincere salesperson, or one who is just following a script, then it is a good idea not to fall into the trap of using tired, unimaginative words and phrases. That doesn’t mean that you need to have the vocabulary of Shakespeare, but you should at least try to say things in your own way.

One of the key things you can do is ensure you use positive language. Here are some suggestions:

Tips

  1. Don’t use clichés – instead use your own words
  2. Listen to yourself – if you can, record some of your calls – you will notice all sorts of things that you didn’t realise you were doing and then you can work on eliminating bad habits
  3. Never start a call with “How are you?” Why? Well it absolutely screams “You’re trying to sell me something” (particularly if you don’t care, because then you seem insincere as well – see 5 below)
  4. Always remember you are talking to a real person – for all you know they could have had 20 other people calling them today trying to sell to them. Therefore, put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel if someone rang you up and talked to you like you were just a number.
  5. If you sound insincere, then as far as the customer is concerned, you probably are insincere. Work hard to show that you are genuine

Case Study

Edwin was new to sales and he was determined to do well. He had been out with his boss during his training and now he was starting to go on visits by himself. Edwin was bursting with enthusiasm, loved the products – which were advanced water treatment systems – and he really enjoyed going out and meeting new customers.

He started to close sales, but soon realised that selling was not always as easy as his boss had made it look. In particular, he really struggled with some of the seasoned and experienced buyers that he had to approach to stock his product.

One, refused to give Edwin an appointment. He tried every week to arrange a visit, but the buyer just wasn’t having any of it. In frustration, Edwin asked his boss if he could listen in to his phone conversation to see if there was something he was missing. In fact, his boss went one step further – he recorded the call. When Edwin asked for feedback, his boss told him to listen to the call and see if he could work it out.

Edwin was horrified. He heard himself using what seemed like every cliché in the book. “How are you today”, “To be honest”, “Quite Frankly”. It was as though he had suddenly lost the power to speak in English!

sales training - don't say you are the best
I got it wrong

More about Edwin’s situation

His boss kindly explained that the buyer didn’t want to talk to an automaton who only spoke in trite sales terms; rather he wanted to talk to a real human being who cared about what was important to him. He also pointed out that by using phrases like “Frankly” and “To be honest” he was coming across as insincere and was giving the impression that he was either hiding something, or worse, lying.

By asking “How are you today?”, Edwin was coming over particularly insincerely – as his boss pointed out, his job was to sell, the buyer knew his job was to sell and, apart from wasting time it was probably actually annoying the buyer and eroding confidence in Edwin’s product. He explained, the moment you hear someone you have never met before say that on the phone, you know they don’t care and that they are trying to appear polite, but actually couldn’t care less how you are – they just want to sell you something.

Edwin’s boss gave him some other pointers too – for example, making sure he was never rude or disrespectful to the competition, never starting a conversation by asking if the buyer wanted to place an order and to just use his own authentic and real words.

With his boss standing by him, Edwin rang his elusive buyer again. When he got through, he apologised for his previous call, saying he was new. He used his own language, explained that he thought he had something the buyer might be interested in seeing and politely asked for an appointment. The buyer said ‘yes’, on the condition that Edwin did not use the word “Honestly”. Edwin unreservedly agreed.

So often, we fail to get the basics right. Sometimes, all we need is a little help from someone to point us in the right direction and to be smart about using positive language appropriately.

This is an adapted excerpt from my book “Small Business Sales Dilemmas – 50 Real Life Case Studies to Help you Sell More” which is available on Amazon.

Image from Pixabay

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