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Marketing 101 - Words Change Perception


Marketing 101 - Words Change Perception

By Elizabeth Slater

The words we use when selling out goods or services are as important as the products themselves. Using the wrong words may change the perceptions of potential customers leading them to leave your business empty-handed, whereas if the right words had been used, these same customers would have been happy to buy.

We all know that a pleasant greeting, a sincere smile and an open and friendly demeanor helps tremendously to put customers in the purchasing frame of mind.  These things are as important as they ever were so be aware of how you are greeting people.  I am fascinated by the realization of how many times I walk into a store, a business or even a doctor’s office, and find that a stern faced person, one who doesn’t look as though s/he is happy to help me, greets me. If at all possible, I leave. So keep smiling.

However, now it’s time to the work on the words we are using, as so many of the things that we use in our everyday language not only don’t influence a positive reaction, but also can create a negative reaction in the customers.

Let’s start with some of the simplest examples of words we shouldn’t say and words we should…  

1. And rather than but…

The word and continues the conversation. When you say and the customer will expect to learn more information that will benefit them, which may make them listen more closely, whereas the word “but” is more likely to be thought of as being followed by a negative.  Think of it as “and” continues a conversation while “but” may stop it.

Example:  We have the item you want and (more good news) in the color you want. Providing a positive outcome

Telling a customer, “We have the item you want but not in the color you want.” Provides a negative outcome.

When you find that you can’t meet the customer’s needs immediately, turn the sentence around to make it more positive.  “We have the item you want and will have it in stock by Wednesday (or)…can order it for you today.

2. Because  

One of the most powerful words in sales is the word because. It is very persuasive. 

Example:  You should buy that sweater because that color really suits you.

When you use the word because you are answering the question, which on every consumer’s mind (either consciously or subconsciously), “What’s in it for me.”

3. Thank You rather than No Problem

It has become ubiquitous these days in answer to the words Thank You to say No problem. This is not a good habit to get into. Practice saying, you’re welcome or I am pleased that I could help, or anything else positive. After all why should a customer thanking a salesperson for service, encourage the salesperson to respond with, No problem as if it were possible that there might have been a problem when none existed.

4. I don’t know

I don’t know is a phrase that shouldn’t be used unless it is followed up by, “I will find out for you,” or “that’s a good question let me check.”  If you don’t know it’s your job to find out and get back to the customer.  It’s also a great way to get an email address or cell phone number so you may email or text to give them the answer.

5. Honestly/Trust Me

When you say honestly in the middle of a conversation your customer may come to the conclusion that the things you have already said to them were not necessarily the truth. This word may hurt your credibility.  Trust me is in the same category as honestly in that it raises doubts in the mind of the customer as to whether he/she should trust the salesperson or not.

6. Perhaps/Maybe

These are words that can show lack of confidence and harks back to I don’t know.  If, as a salesperson, you have said perhaps or maybe to more than one customer, it’s time to find out what they answer is.

7. You chose a good day…

Complement a customer on his/her good sense in coming in. If you happen to be having a sale that day, let your customers know that buying today will be to their benefit. It’s a good thing to say at the beginning of the interaction, as it gives them time to assess the benefits of buying today rather than next week.

There are many more words that are good or bad to use in a sales situation. If you would like a longer list please drop me an email.

Elizabeth Slater: In Short Direct Marketing 707.953.1289