Thursday, June 18, 2009

Words are Powerful

I cringed this week when I witnessed 2 sales being snuffed out! In both cases, the sales could have been probable with a small change in words.

Here's what happened:

Snuff out #1. I was shopping for a Father's Day gift in a men's clothing store. After looking around for several minutes I had not found any medium sized shirts in the store. Puzzled, I asked the store clerk if they had any mediums.
  • What she said: She looked up from writing and said very matter-of-factly, "EVERYTHING we have is OUT" and looked back down at what she was doing. I felt like I was in trouble for asking and left the store.

  • What she should have said, "We have all of our merchandise out but let me show you where you can find the mediums."
Snuff out #2: I was sitting at the dance studio waiting on my daughter to finish her Hip-Hop class. I hear the phone ring and the dance studio receptionist answer the phone.
  • What she said: "We don't have our Fall Schedule made up yet. If you call back in August we will have it and I can give you class times then."

  • What she should have said: "We don't have our Fall Schedule made up yet. Give me your name and phone number (or email address) and we will notify you when the Fall Schedule is out so you can sign up."

In both cases, a small tweak of wording would have changed the outcome to be more favorable for the business involved. So, while I'm at it, here are a few other phrases that I try not to use because of the words:

  • "No problem." Instead of using these words I say, "I will be glad to," or "Glad to do it." Or you can say, "It will be my pleasure," or "Glad to help." When we say, "No problem" all the listener hears is the word "problem" and the phrase insinuates the customer's request could be a problem.

  • "Here's the problem..." Customers don't want to hear the problem (they know what it is). They want to hear the solution. Use words like "challenge" or "opportunity." These words imply action. You can say, "Our challenge here is ...blah, blah, blah, or "We have an opportunity to..."

  • "To be honest with you." Sometimes this phrase pops out naturally, but I said this to a customer early in my career and his retort was, "Don't say that! Does that mean you aren't always being honest with me?"
If you want to read more about powerful words, read this article How Your Choice of Words or Phrases can Make or Break a Sale

1 comment:

Jerry said...

Great comments and so true. Unfortunately many employees do not know better or talk before they think. Just tweaking what is said to customers can add tremendously to the bottom line. Also, the tone or body language can help prevent sales.