Talking Your Customer Out of the Sale

Communication and Human Interaction

Sales is all about communication and human interaction. When we buy something we need details and we need to know how we’ll benefit so we can make an informed decision. We want to get that information from someone we like and trust and much of that decision comes down to communication.

On today’s show discover:

  • …why it’s important to thoughtfully select words and phrases that support your customer interaction;
  • how selecting the right words and style of communication helps you establish rapport and move toward a sale.

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Formal or Casual?

The language, phrases and words you use can help you make the sale or cause you to talk your customer out of it. Sometimes there are really subtle differences that have a big impact on the outcome.

To make a connection with your customer and build rapport the best interactions are professional but informal. It helps you build rapport, and make a more human connection. It’s not like you’re a police officer investigating a crime or anything….”just the facts mam”.  It’s about being on a first name basis with your customer (whenever possible).

When it’s too formal it may seem like you’re just in it to make a sale. When it’s more casual you can more effectively communicate your genuine desire to help solve your customer’s problem. You seem more…human.

So how does your language play in? Well, remember it’s professional so you’re not going to use words like “dude” or “buddy” but it’s informal and comfortable so you want to use first names.

It’s just Bill and Ted talking about a product. It’s not Mr. Salesman and Mr. Customer talking. Here’s how I picture it in my mind….when it’s Bill and Ted talking it’s two people facing each other having a conversation and it’s casual. When it’s Mr. Salesman and Mr. Customer there’s a counter between them and it’s formal.

Which one do you think makes it easier to build rapport and trust? (right the casual conversation)

The Royal Treatment

britain-1296168_640Lately, I’ve heard some salespeople greet their customers like this:

“with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking today?”

Yes, it’s polite but it’s too formal…I mean would you answer your phone at home like that? (maybe if you were the queen of England but otherwise probably not).

A much better approach is just to give your name and then ask for theirs.

“Hi I’m Steve, what’s your name?”

So that all sounds good at the beginning when you’re getting to know each other but once the customer objects you should get really formal right?

In rebuttals, you’re helping provide additional information that’s missing. You’re helping calm a concern, putting a counter between you and your customer at this point really isn’t going to help!

Despite this, some salespeople like to  start using “sir’ or “mam” during their rebuttals. If you listen closely you can almost hear a wedge being placed between them and their customer. All that good rapport built at the beginning just goes away and it’s Mr Salesman and Mr. Customer again.

Instead of adopting a more formal approach during the rebuttal process like this:

“I understand mam, is it the money or are you just not sure the product will work for you?”

Remain professional but casual and rely on the rapport you built early on to keep the lines of communication open.

“I understand Tammy, is it the money or are you just not sure the product will work for you?”

Help Your Customer Feel Smart

Another way you can talk your customer out of a sale (if you’re not careful) is by talking down to them. Of course you would never do this on purpose but if you’re not careful and precise with the words you use it can come across that way.

One example of this comes in the form of over-used and generic tie-downs. As you know, a tie-down is just a question designed to get a “yes” response. However, you need to be careful not to use questions that are so blatantly obvious that your customer becomes offended.

Here’s an example:

“you like to save money don’t you?”

For many, answering this question is quickly followed by an eye roll and an internal “DUH”. It’s on a par with “well the sky is blue, isn’t it?” ….so with a generic and over-used tie-downs like this you get a “yes” but at what price? Getting a yes at the expense of your rapport isn’t worth it.

A much better approach is to personalize your tie-downs. You still get a “yes” and your customer feels better answering a more intelligent question like

“….and getting rid of that back pain so you can play tennis again is really what’s most important to you, isn’t it Ted?”

Here’s another poor choice of words that can drive a wedge between you and your customer. It’s a question I hear some salespeople use after explaining something and it doesn’t make the customer feel smart.

Here’s an example:

“You take one scoop of powder and add it to boiling water and then stir it until it’s clear. Does that make sense?”

Sure you want to check to be sure your customer is on board but when you ask someone “does that make sense?” it can be interpreted that you don’t feel they have the mental capacity to keep up. I know that’s not what you mean but it can come across that way.

Here a couple of phrases that accomplish the same thing and at the same time make your customer feel smart.

“What are your thoughts on that?” or “how does that sound to you?”

When you choose your words and phrases thoughtfully you improve your communication and avoid “talking your customer out of the sale”

Today’s One Two Punch

Selecting the right words makes a big difference

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