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Influencers Invited Sales Blog

Choosing Words That Sell

Selling successfully requires that you make your prospects comfortable with you. Fear is one of the biggest impediments to any sale, so if you can relax the prospect you’re much more likely to convince him to make the big choice and buy from you. So it follows that choosing the right words during your sales presentation can make a big difference in how well it goes.

When you build rapport with a prospect, you’ll have an easier time if he considers you to be a lot like him. Keep your level of technical dialog about the same as his. In other words, if he uses lots of technical and industry-specific terms, feel free to do the same. But if he maintains a more casual level of speech, then so should you.

In most cases you should avoid using jargon and highly technical terms because all you’ll do is make the prospect feel stupid. If you use a phrase your prospect doesn’t understand, you will most definitely make them uncomfortable. It puts him in the position of either asking you what the term means and feeling silly for not knowing, or saying nothing and not understanding the point you’ve just made.

One thing you should definitely never do is use a technical term you yourself don’t understand. If you misuse the word, which is certainly a possibility, now you’ll be the one looking like an idiot. And since your expertise with the product and the industry is a significant factor for most sales, you’ve probably just killed this particular one.

If you have a standard sales presentation script, keep it at a fairly low technical level — it’s better to use simpler language than necessary than to talk over the prospect’s head. If your prospect does throw in a lot of technical language, you can always amp up your presentation accordingly. His word choice during your initial cold call will probably give you a clue about how he prefers to speak.

On those occasions when the prospect uses a word you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll be the one faced with the choice of asking for clarification or staying silent. Which option is best depends on the specific situation. If you think that you’ve already developed a pretty good rapport with the prospect, go ahead and ask. You can actually strengthen your rapport because he’ll enjoy having the chance to teach you something and will feel smarter himself for knowing something you don’t. On the other hand, if you’re having a tough time creating a connection with the prospect, you might be better off saying nothing. In that case, write the phrase down and look it up later or ask someone at your company what it means. Then at least the next time you hear it, you’ll know what it means.

Of course, if the phrase is part of a question that the prospect has asked you, like “How well does your widget frambaxle?” it’s a lot harder to feign understanding. Your best bet in that situation is to ask him to give you a moment and call someone in your company’s tech support department to pass the question along to them. You can then repeat the answer back to the prospect.

Jargon and technical phrases aside, there are a few words it’s better to avoid in a sales presentation. As a rule, don’t use words and phrases that might bring up negative feelings in your prospect. For example, using the word “contract” might make your prospect feel restricted or conjure images of being trapped with your company, so instead try to say “agreement,” which has a much more positive association.

Of course, sometimes the situation will require you to say “contract.” In that case, go ahead and say it. You’ll only make your prospect more uncomfortable if you use all kinds of strange word choices just to avoid a relatively harmless phrase.

About the author

My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.

As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.