Altering Sales and Service Delivery Language to Create Opportunities and Close Deals

People often fail to realize language’s importance; from phrases like “sticks and stones” to dismissing an argument as “just semantics,” people can sometimes forget to choose their words carefully.

In fact, there is a major link between psychology and language. Words can even influence the brain’s cognitive functioning and reaction to stress. Other research shows words can drastically affect your perception. Whether or not you realize it, you have probably experienced these effects and not even thought about it. Think of the difference between an emphatic “Yeah!” and a monotone “Sure,” or between “I have a lot to learn about X” and “I’m terrible at X.”

So how can you apply this knowledge to sales? Simple: think about how you say what you mean.

Framing Matters

The word “NO” can release dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters in less than a second. In layman’s terms: just hearing or seeing the word “no” makes people more stressed, especially if they are already anxious. In fact, when mental health professionals teach patients to turn negative thoughts and worries into positive affirmations, those patients experience increased self-control and confidence.
In sales, we need to frame our terms to eliminate or at least pad out the “No,” to reduce stress and increase positivity. You also want to minimize words like “don’t,” “can’t,” or “won’t.” For example, instead of telling prospective clients that you cannot currently take on anyone with their specific project, try something a little more positive that still gets this point across, like this: “I am currently assisting with many other projects of this nature at this time. I will be able to take on new projects within the next two weeks. I look forward to touching base then.”
The former sounds like a hard no; it can give the prospect the impression they have met a dead end, which may lead them from looking elsewhere right away. The latter buries the problem in the solution, so that prospect understands that you are still able and willing to serve them even if you cannot do so presently.
This is important because—as mentioned in the introduction—words affect your perception. If you go into a situation after hearing positive words, you are more likely to regard it in a positive light. The opposite applies if you go in after hearing negative words. Using the previous example, if the client does not need the item urgently, then the latter framing leaves open the possibility of purchase. They may ask if they can pre-order the product or set up an email-reminder for when it is in-stock. While it might not result in an immediate sale, you are creating an opportunity.

Careful Questions & Fostering Understanding

Another important reason to watch your words is because clients want to feel like their needs are being understood. Let us say you are a travel agent ordering plane tickets for wedding guests. One guest was not sure whether or not they’d be able to make it, so they waited until last-minute to book their flight. Now, there are no flights left on Friday, the day of the wedding. Here you have a choice. You could say “There’s no more flights on Friday,” or you could put a positive spin on it, “The flight is not available on Friday, but with potential delays and holiday traffic, that might be cutting it close anyway. What if we booked you a Thursday flight so you get there with time to spare before the festivities?”
The second response considers the customer’s needs. The flight is for a wedding—a once-in-a-lifetime event—so they do not want to miss out. This will make them much more likely to book the Thursday flight instead of trying to find tickets through some other means.
Moreover, these understanding builds trust and rapport. Using another example, let us say you are a graphic designer. A small business owner reaches out to you in need of the perfect logo, but they appear to be so impatient and flustered that you are not sure where to begin. Instead of doing nothing or rattling off the options you have available, you ask them what they want customers to notice when they look at the logo. Once you get your answer, you can brainstorm with the client to come up with the perfect design. This helpful attitude and careful consideration will make the client much more likely to return for future projects.
People want to feel heard, so listen and customize your responses to their needs. If all you do is read a script or rattle off the first thing that comes to mind, you may end up losing leads and missing out on opportunities. Stay positive and listen carefully.

What Should You Do Next?

The good news is that you now understand just how powerful the right words can be. It is time to put your words to action. After all, this is how you will engage your audience and show them that you have what it takes to guide them.
Carefully crafted emails and intriguing blog posts are excellent places to start, but it does not stop there.
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