The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 22, 2017 • Issue 17:05:02
Is your language working against you?
Knowing they need nimble fingers, pianists do scales before they tackle their repertoire; aware that their muscles must be worked properly, football players do warm up exercises before each game. What do you, as a merchant level salesperson, do to make sure your language is in top shape before you converse with a prospect or current customer? Have you checked lately to make sure your choice of words isn't getting in your way?
In Good SellingTM: The Basics, Paul H. Green wrote that we sometimes inadvertently set ourselves up for a negative response from our prospects ‒ even in our initial greetings. Green provided the following examples of average introductions, along with improved versions:
Average: Do you have a moment, or should I come back later?
Better: Let's spend a brief moment outlining my service.
Average: Do you have a check problem?
Better: Let's discuss how we can make checks a safer form of payment.
Average: Do you want to hear about my service?
Better: This is what my service does better than what you have now …
Average: What would you say if I told you I could increase your sales?
Better: Here are some ways I can increase your bottom line …
Green also noted that once communication is established, it's important to maintain control. One way to do that is to discard tired language that you and your customers have heard so often the words have lost meaning.
He suggested, for example, that "slash," "shrink," "slice," "trim," "modify," "eliminate" and "salvage" are potential substitutes for "save"; "cost" could be replaced with "expense," "charge," "waste" or "burden"; and "dollars," "revenue," "cash," "income," and "market share" would have greater impact than "profits."
"We are all guilty of hanging on to the same old terms and phrases and using them over and over," he wrote. "The only way to break the habit and add some life to your language is to constantly access new ideas and continually examine the problem to be sure you're not falling back into the same old patterns."
Try recording yourself as you practice your presentation. Then make note of the bland words, as well as terrific words you're using too frequently. If you use a word often, it will lose its power to delight listeners and grab attention. Then take your list of lackluster or overused words to your computer and google for synonyms.
And, while driving to appointments, listen to a variety of audio books: business books as well as many other nonfiction and fiction genres. Pick authors who make eloquent use of the English language. You will absorb new words as a matter of course and, over time, some of them will find their way into your conversations. You might even combine words from different disciplines to create a phrase that becomes an industry buzz word. Then you'll have to regroup and create an alternative. But, for now, just making sure your language is helping, not hindering you will suffice.
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