Communication and Sales, Part Three

By Thomas Young

Proper communication is critical to sales success. To become an excellent communicator it is important to remember certain phrases and words should be avoided. Most of the time we use them out of habit and that is OK because habits can be changed. Here are a few pointers on things you should not say and why.

The Put Down
You are guaranteed to run into interesting people in your sales career. It is tempting to talk about these people to others and perhaps put them down. Whatever you say about someone else is a reflection on you. No matter what happens between you and others, do not put down other people. You can talk about how others are interesting, colorful or on their own path, but a negative statement about them reflects on you. The psychology behind this is interesting, we tend to put others down to make ourselves feel good. Find other ways to help you feel good about yourself; and find the positive aspects of other people.

Always and Never
There really is no always and never in business. These terms should be avoided as people see you as rigid and inflexible or even out of touch with reality. It is rarely appropriate to use these terms and they should be avoided.

“Please Be Reasonable”
This assumes someone is not being reasonable. In their mind, they are being very reasonable. Do not pass judgment on people, rather work with them towards a solution. Asking people to be reasonable puts them on the defensive and turns them away from agreement. Your challenge is to better understand their viewpoint.

“We All Know” and “The Fact of the Matter”
We don’t all know and nobody should assume. These statements sound presumptuous and assume your customer or prospect is in the dark. Do not act as if you are better than your customer or prospect and avoid these phrases.

“To Be Honest With You”
There are several variations of this common phrase such as, “to be frank with you” or “to level with you.” This harmless comment leads people to think maybe you have not been honest in the past. You should always be honest, and therefore there is no need to say you are going to be honest.

“Yes, but…”
Everything before “but” is negated. Use “and” instead of “but.” It sounds better and supports your first comment. This is usually a response to a comment made to you and therefore it is very important to support the statement, even if you know it to be incorrect. It is better to acknowledge and validate their thoughts and educate gently. Perceptions are reality.

“Don’t Misunderstand Me”
Do not assume someone does not understand you. The reality is you have not properly communicated your message. It is your challenge to first understand your customer or prospect and then communicate your message so it is understood.

“Oh, by the Way…”
This is usually a lead in to something people do not want to hear. Just come out and say what you need to say and skip this wimpy introduction.

Cussing and Swear Words
There is no place for cussing or swear words in sales or business. It is unprofessional conduct and should not be a part of your vocabulary. Even if it is your customer’s habit, do not respond in kind. The negative nonverbal impact hurts the effectiveness of your communication.

“This is not Personal…”
Everything is personal in any human interaction. Communication between two people is an intra-personal dialog. Trust is lost when you say it is not personal and then hit them with the bad news. Saying it is not personal then hitting them with the bad news is almost always followed by the comment, “Of course it is personal.”

As a sales professional, an ongoing study of human communication is an important part of your success. It is just as important to learn what you should not say, as it is what you should say. Do this properly and you will rise above the competition.

Tom Young, MBA is president of Sales Training Plus, a sales training and marketing consulting firm helping companies increase revenues. He is the author of Intuitive Selling and can be reached at 719-481-4040, or email at [email protected].