language of sales

The language of sales is one in which complex thoughts are simplified. Vexing decisions are reduced to their obvious conclusions. Lack of clarity becomes crystal clear.

This language contains words and phrases capable of stirring emotion, stifling indecision, conveying agreement and convincing even the most adamant prospect. Words are powerful.

Words have made and ruined careers. (Do any politicians come to mind?) Your selection — good and bad — will, to a large extent, determine your career. Scary thought? Not after you read this.

There’s no love for the salesperson whose flowery prose is seen as “too slick.” There’s no respect for the salesperson who delights in displaying full technical expertise on every question.

So we’re not asking you to develop an arsenal of $100 words on a $2 budget. We’re asking you to learn to speak in terms to which the consumer can easily relate. Consumers have become very defensive to the old-school salesperson. It’s about clarity delivered with sincerity.


Hot sales words

You can begin by becoming aware of the words you use and the reactions they cause. Are they positive or negative? What facial expressions are reactions to your language?

  • Do not use the word “contract,” use “agreement” or “proposal.” Contract is a traditional sales word that is seen as very formal or potentially destructive to the customer. The replacement word agreement involves the customer or another person. The customer feels better because he is agreeing with you. The word proposal implies that the consumer makes the ultimate decision.
  • Do not say, “I need your signature here” or “Sign this here;” say, “Please OK this here,” or “Please OK this and date it.” You want to make the consumer feel like he has power. It is, after all, his decision. The latter two phrases present the task simply and with much less formality. Signing is often associated with “signing away something.” An OK is much more like agreeing with you.
  • Do not use the word “buy” or “spend” when you can say “investment.” The words buy and spend infer giving something up that may not come back. An investment implies a return. You also can refer to something as a good investment or tell the customer he is getting a good return on his investment.
  • Do not say, “first payment,” say, “initial investment.” Same as above. One implication is negative; the other is more positive.
  • Do not say, “our price” or “our discount.” Speak in terms of “your savings,” “your payback” and “your discount.” Let these dollars become “theirs.” The inference is entirely different and far more agreeable.
  • Do not say, “Five thousand two hundred and eighty dollars,” say, “Fifty-two eighty.” Dollars are too valuable and five thousand is too many! Reduce the blow by quoting your company’s prices with a little tact. Remember, you’re selling value, not price. It’s an investment.

To illustrate word choices, say these two phrases out loud:

“With our price, you pay us five thousand two hundred and eighty dollars.”

“Your discounted investment that will pay you back for years is just fifty-two eighty.”

Which sounds far less harsh? It makes a difference. It all adds up to a better, more approachable, less committal tone of language. The message is much easier to your new customer.

Now try this next one out. Which sounds better to you?

“Once you sign this contract, then we can set up our installation crews to come back.”

“Just OK this agreement and we’ll schedule the installation at your convenience.”

Your words can be like music when said pleasantly and with encouragement.


What you should always say

Words and language lead your prospects to draw inferences about your company and your knowledge.

The following is a list of “dream phrases” that are more like thoughts you should convey to your poor, confused prospect who is just looking for a solution.

Show him you know how to make his dreams real by conveying:

  • “I know who you are.” This dream phrase lets your prospects know that you know them, their needs, their neighborhood and their demographics. You can say this by knowing a little service history, when they used your company last, who built the home or the age of their system. This speaks to them as unique.
  • “I know how to fix your problem.” This dream phrase demonstrates your knowledge of plumbing systems. Your prospects put confidence in you. You say this by fully explaining the problem and telling them how you can give value with your solutions and your company’s plan. This speaks to them as fixable.

When you close a sale, you have moved systematically toward that close in incremental steps that have gotten agreement or been acknowledged as OK with the prospect.

Go too fast and you lose people. Go too slow and you bore people. So unless you’re psychic, get small agreements and nods of approval en route. It’s easier, faster and fully understood.