Some words and phrases sound so nice in your head…
They make you appear so professional…
But they are like kryptonite for your business. And every time you say or write one of them in the hopes of getting a customer, you’re actually killing your chances of making a sale.
In today’s post, we want to tell you about 4 words and phrases like that. And then we want you to:
- Stop saying them
- Stop writing them
- Stop even thinking them
Okay, maybe not that last one. But the first two will definitely help your bottom line. And we will also give you 4 things you could say, write, or do that will actually help you instead.
Sound good? Then let’s start with the main offender…
1. The word “but”
“Our product/service is expensive, but…”
“You could purchase the same thing from [your competitor], but…”
“It will take time to see a return on investment, but…”
You’ve definitely heard similar things – and chances are, you’ve said them to prospects, too.
Every time you use a qualifier like “but”, it doesn’t matter what you say next. You will have already acknowledged to a potential customer that their fears and objections are real. As a result, your odds of getting a yes will plummet faster than a world-class Olympic diver.
Here’s what to say instead:
Try to replace “but” with “and”, and see just how assertive and confident you will come across by comparison. And then follow it up with whatever argument you wanted to use:
“This is a significant investment, yes – and that’s exactly why it will help you achieve [a goal or benefit your customer cares about]”
“Sure, you could buy the same product from our competition… if you enjoy spending 10 times the amount on maintenance and repair, that is. Because it’s been proven to malfunction under the conditions you want to use it.”
“It takes time to see the results. That said, the effect will be much longer-lasting – 10-plus years compared to the average of 8-10 months when using [competing offer].”
By changing just one word, you will stop sounding apologetic and unsure about the value of your offer. So please remove that weak, treacherous “but” out of your vocabulary!
2. “We are [insert any positive adjective]…”
Creative. Ingenious. Dedicated. Organized. Meticulous. You name it.
The thing is, whenever you tell a potential customer anything good about your brand, they probably won’t believe you.
Why? Because of course you would say those things! You will never see a company that would voluntarily say something like…
“You know what? We’re terrible! Take your money elsewhere! Even if you just put it in a pile and burn it, it would be better spent than buying one of our products!”
Tooting your own horn is the least effective method of self-promotion. Luckily, there’s an easy way to convince your customers about how awesome you are.
Here’s what to say instead:
If you can’t say nice things about your own brand, what can you do? There are two alternatives:
- Let someone else say it! If your brand is as amazing as you say it is, you will have zero trouble finding customers who will toot your horn for you. Get some testimonials from them, and use them: on your website, in your emails, in your sales copy, maybe even as a physical printout or poster that you put where people can see it.
- Tell a story that shows how awesome you are. Stories have a remarkable power to persuade. That’s why creepy urban legends can cause even the most rational people to check the backseat of their car, or be afraid to come down to the basement. A specific case study – or just a simple tale about a time your brand has helped someone – will be a lot more effective than chaining together adjectives.
3. “Our product is revolutionary/unique/[insert a positive adjective]…”
If you’ve been paying attention to entry #2 of this post, then you already see the problem.
You guessed it!
It’s the same issue of self-promotion. Of course you would say that your product is revolutionary, unique, super-effective, and life-changing.
And yet, the world is full of terrible products anyway! Still, people buy even the terrible ones. But not because the creators have said nice things about them – but for another reason entirely…
Here’s what to say instead:
We’ve already established that, if you want to cast your brand in a positive light, it’s enough to get someone else to praise it. But if you want to convince people that your product is great, a different strategy might benefit you more.
It’s simple: prove it. Quote tangible proof that your product is better than anything else your customer has seen before. It’s up to you how exactly to approach this, but here are a few suggestions:
- Whenever you can, show the “before and after” results people experienced with your product. Even when you can’t show the impact visually, you can describe it. For example, if you sell a financial product that helps people to pay off their home, you can do some back-of-the-napkin math to show how much a customer would save on interest.
- Explain the mechanism behind how your product works. That’s the whole reason whiteboard animation videos exist – they make it easy to convey a complicated idea simply and elegantly. But you don’t have to resort to video to do it (though we’d recommend it, of course) – write, or just talk your customer through it.
- Demonstrate your product in action. Have you ever wondered why door-to-door salespeople and infomercials still exist, in this day and age? Door-to-door selling is a $28 billion dollar industry – and the US market for infomercials is pushing $200 billion. They work, and they work because of the power of seeing a product in action. Take a page from their old-school book and give your potential customer a demo!
4. “Let me get back to you on that…”
Wait a second… What wrong with this?
It’s a very necessary phrase – if you’re going to give your potential customer all the information they need to make a buying decision, it makes sense to put the sales process on hold, do your homework, then follow up.
Sadly, it’s also a great way to lose a high-probability prospect. In the time it takes you to do all that, they might:
- Change their mind
- Find another solution
- Get poached by a competitor
- Go on vacation and completely forget about you
And so on.
So what can you do about it? We’re glad you asked…
Here’s what to say instead:
First and foremost, it’s always better to make sure that a delay like that is never necessary.
Keep a running list of potential problems and objections that might come up during a sales conversation – along with ways to address them on the spot. That way, instead of leaving a potential customer hanging, you will always have a prompt answer for them.
If it does come up, and you have no choice but to interrupt the conversation, you will want to do two things:
- Put a timeline on your follow up. Always say exactly when you will get back to the prospect. Not only does it speak to your professionalism, but also improves the odds that your second conversation actually happens!
- Make that timeline as short as possible. The faster you can get back to a potential customer, the more likely they are to say yes to your offer. Check out this lead response management study from HBR for some more revealing figures.
Note: By the way, #2 is especially useful if you are qualifying sales leads by calling them back after they contact you via website form or a demo request. If you reach out to them instantly (in under a minute), they will be a whopping 22 times more likely to say yes!
The Golden Rule of talking to potential clients
Of course, there are plenty more conversion-destroying things you could say to a prospect.
We are talking about gems like:
“We would love to work with you!” (Sure, but why would we love working with you?)
“You are going to love this!” (Don’t tell us what to do, you’re not even our real Mom!)
“We need this project.” (Oh, so your business is imploding and we are the lifeline?)
And on and on it goes. But if you’re ever in doubt about what to say to a potential client, you might want to ask yourself, “Would I want to hear that in their position? Or would I just find it patronizing and irritating?”
If it’s the latter, don’t say it. And if you ever feel tempted to utter any of the 4 phrases we’ve covered in today’s post, we’ve got you covered – you already know what to say instead. Enjoy!