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In Sales, Say What You Mean

In Sales, Say What You Mean


Don’t use wishy-washy words when communicating with buyers.

As a salesperson—and you are if you’re a business owner—you’re familiar with hearing wishy-washy words from your prospects. Responses such as “I believe there’s a good chance,” “Things look pretty good,” or even, “We’re inclined to place the order this quarter” may sound positive on the surface. Upon closer inspection, they reveal no actual commitment.

Learning how to clarify smoke-screen statements is an important part of being a successful salesperson. Using wishy-washy words yourself is a mistake you should never make.

For some salespeople, the trouble starts with setting the initial meeting. Some salespeople are afraid to be seen as salespeople, so their pitch for meetings is vague and doesn’t convey a value to prospects. This fear carries through to the presentation, where they fail to establish clear links between prospects’ needs and the solution they can offer. The clearer and easier you make it for prospects to establish that connection, the more likely you are to make the sale.

Many salespeople still avoid clarity, however, in hopes that muddying the water will benefit them in the sales process. Unfortunately,
it usually just creates confusion, with no commitment from the prospect.

Here are some key ways to getting and making commitments that stick.

Define the Agenda

Be sure to define the agenda of every meeting or conversation up front. A lot of sales-people use hope as a strategy for setting up calls. Their goal is to set any appointment and see what happens. They hope it will magically turn into a sale. Effective sales professionals know why they are having the conversation, and they make sure the prospect knows too. Make it clear that you are selling solutions to problems. To have an effective meeting, you need a prospect with a problem you can solve. So, make sure you are setting appointments with qualified prospects.

Clarify the Timeline

Time is one of the most frustrating and mystifying elements of human existence. If you don’t clarify it, things can go sideways quickly. “Someday,” “soon,” “plenty of time” and “later” are all meaningless phrases that you must have prospects define. If a prospect provides a vague timeline, it is your job to help the prospect define it.

Make sure you have a clear date and time for your conversations. Then make sure you clearly identify the length of time available and the timeline for the ultimate decision.

Define Outcomes

You should define decisions or the outcomes of every conversation. Professional sales trainer David Sandler would say: “If you tell people they have to make a decision at the end of the meeting, then they pay attention.” Amateur salespeople put too much pressure on themselves and the prospect by waiting until the last five minutes of the conversation to bring up the decision. Instead, at the start of every conversation, identify the outcome or decision to be made at the end.

The decision doesn’t have to be a yes or no. The decision may be to set another appointment, get more people involved or refer you to another prospect. With the agenda and decision clearly defined up front, both parties can work toward the appropriate outcome.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of each conversation to identify the decision to be made in the time allotted.

Clarity and transparency are key. Read: No wishy-washy words from either side. Transparency and authenticity from you as the salesperson will help build trust, acquire lifelong clients and get more referrals. Transparency by the prospect will help you qualify the opportunity, solve the real issues and save a ton of wasted time.

You also must decide whether you are comfortable hearing the word “no.” Being clear, direct and open in your communication and asking your prospect to do the same means that you must be okay with getting a lot of no’s.

If you don’t have the guts to go for a quick no, then you will most likely end up in a long, frustrating game of cat and mouse. Many
salespeople would rather play this game than have to end the current opportunity and prospect for a new one. The choice is yours, but remember prospecting can lead to more real opportunities.


Written by

Mike Montague is a certified trainer at Sandler Training, where he teaches the behaviors, attitudes and techniques of interpersonal communication needed to be more successful in business. He is a collector of best practices for management, sales and marketing, and he is passionate about empowering ambitious entrepreneurs with options for growth they didn’t know they had. (816) 505-2500 // mike.montague@sandler.com // Twitter: @mikedmontague

Categories: Sales and Marketing


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