Sales is a profession where language is important. In fact, besides the words you use (and the ways in which you deliver them), there’s very little difference between top sales reps and everybody else, though there are differences in work ethic, and the competitive advantages provided by newer technologies, of course.
But knowing what not to say can be just as important as knowing what to say, especially when prospects can pick and choose who they want to work with. That’s why it’s important to be mindful when talking to prospective customers — saying the wrong thing can cost you deals, and there’s nothing worse than knowing you talked yourself out of new business.
While there are many potential “trap-doors” in a sales conversation, there are certain words and phrases that tend to crop up again and again, as salespeople either don’t realize that these sayings can be detrimental, or assume that they can make up for them by building better rapport. In either case, the following six words and phrases can turn customers off and cost you deals, so make sure you avoid them whenever possible:
1. “To be honest with you…”
It might seem like a simple turn of phrase, and it’s not something you’d think twice about before saying it to your friends or relatives, but when it comes to business, you should avoid this pronouncement like the plague, as it can call your credibility into question. Why do you need to clarify that you’re going to be honest? Were you not being honest before? Are you going to say something that’s difficult to believe? All of these thoughts will go through a prospect’s mind whenever they hear this phrase, which is why you should always pick an alternative, or avoid a qualifier altogether.
Don’t ever bring up your commission to a prospect, and don’t take the bait if they ever bring it up. Discussing your commission with the person whose business you’re trying to earn can never lead to a better outcome, but it can certainly lead to a worse one. If you tell them how much you make, it could cause hard feelings for a multitude of reasons, which is why it’s best to stay away from this conversation altogether. And if you choose to bring it up in an effort to garner sympathy for how much work you have to do in order to earn such a small payout, then you have no business being in sales to begin with.
3. “If I don’t hear back from you…”
After chasing a prospect around for a while, some salespeople will give a final ultimatum before giving up, hoping that threatening a prospect with some sort of consequence (closing out the file) will get a response. While this approach might seem rational, it rarely (if ever) works, and is likely to backfire since most people don’t like to be emotionally manipulated into taking action. Rather than coming from a place of negativity, make your final call a positive one, and leave the relationship in good standing so the prospect doesn’t cross your name off their list if they do decide to move forward.
While this word is frequently used in personal conversations, for salespeople, calling something “obvious” can have unintended consequences. When you say that something is obvious, you assume that the person you’re speaking to has the same knowledge you do, and that they would understand why something is obvious. In reality, however, some people might struggle to understand a concept, or be counting on you to educate them on a particular decision, and referring to something as obvious might come off as condescending, and, in some cases, even insulting. So rather than using this word and hoping nothing goes wrong, try to scratch it from your lexicon — it’s not a risk worth taking.
5. “Trust me…”
Similar to number one on this list, asking someone to trust you is more likely to have the reverse effect: they will begin to question their trust. Not only is it a throwaway phrase, but it does absolutely nothing to advance your cause. The best way to earn trust is to be reliable, transparent, and to answer people’s questions with sincerity. If you can’t build trust through your words and actions, then you certainly won’t be able to convince somebody to trust you just by asking them to. And if you’re ever tempted to use this phrase, press your lips together and grit your teeth instead. Then say what you wanted to say without a qualifier. It will go over much better that way.
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