In selling, the single most important thing you must do is to be understood. You can’t sell if the buyer doesn’t see a clear and compelling link between what he or she needs and what you have to offer. No matter how obvious that link is to you, it’s no good unless you convey that message to the buyer.
That’s why clear communication is the very essence of selling. When a seller is clear, a buyer can see and understand why and how to buy the product. Any lack of clarity erodes the chances of making a sale.
As a general rule, then, sellers should speak as simply and plainly as possible. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Instead of keeping it simple, sellers often succumb to these conversation traps:
- Using industry-specific lingo. When a seller is absolutely certain that the buyer speaks and commonly understands industry-related terminology, it’s okay to speak the same language. It’s not okay, though, when the seller throws these acronyms and terms around without that assurance. It’s doubly dangerous to use lingo that is specific to the seller’s industry and not the buyer’s. That’s a sure-fire way to lose the buyer’s attention and to derail a sale. If you didn’t know the meaning of a word or phrase before you started selling a product, chances are that your buyer doesn’t know the meaning either.
- Starting in the middle instead of starting at the beginning. Don’t forget to communicate about what is happening as the buyer progresses through the buyer’s process. Sellers have to build awareness and interest before the buyer develops desire and takes action. If you are communicating about how to purchase your product before the desire has been established, there will be a disconnect. To be clear, you have to be in synch with the buyer’s process.
- Speaking in vague generalities. It isn’t clear or credible to use too many hyperbolic words like always, never, everyone or totally. For some buyers, precise language is essential for them to understand and believe what you are saying. Be sure you know your product well enough to talk about it in real terms rather than pouring on the enthusiasm and hoping it will do the job.
- Talking too fast. Sales pitches are almost always fast balls. There’s a pre-determined quantity of information a seller hopes to cover before the buyer responds, so a rapid-fire delivery ensues. The problem with spouting a lot of information without allowing pauses for processing and two-way dialogue? Valuable information is glossed over, key points are not understood or allowed to sink in for impact, and the buyer feels inundated. In communication, there is never a preference for quantity over quality.
- Over-relying on market research and data. While you don’t want to speak in overly general terms, you also don’t want to heap on too many facts and figures. For some, too many numbers and statistics will be overwhelming. Have the data and use it as a back-up when asked. This is a great way to customize your presentation to meet the preferences of an individual buyer. Not everyone loves the snazzy charts and research you have available to you. Look for the buyer’s signals and offer more of what seems to be appealing to each individual.
- Making assumptions about the buyer’s level of interest and/or understanding. Here’s a classic example. You’re in the “just looking” phase of buying a new car. It’s a sunny weekend afternoon and, on a whim, you stopped by a dealership. The over-zealous seller pops the hood and starts talking about the technical features and granular details before you’ve had a chance to grasp even the basics about the vehicle. Your level of interest (only mild to begin with) rapidly declines. You can’t wait to make a break for it because you don’t understand what’s being talked about. Just because you came onto the lot doesn’t mean you are ready to buy today. The seller’s assumption and actions likely mean that you won’t be ready to buy anytime soon either… At least not from him or her.
- Adding in words and phrases that they don’t fully understand. Sellers mirror buyers in many ways, and that’s usually a great way to build rapport. But parroting words or phrases that you don’t understand is seldom a good idea. There’s no need to fake it. Instead, ask for clarity and you’ll be encouraging the buyer to do the same. There’s no real benefit to adding in excess words that you don’t really mean or understand.
If you watch out for and avoid these 7 conversation traps, you’ll be well on your way to speaking the buyer’s language. By doing so, you will be more clear and easier to understand. The simplicity of what you are saying will help you to advance the sale.