It was "Totally 80s" week on television and I was watching the movie, Beaches. In it, Bette Midler's character (who was caught doing something she shouldn't) brassily proclaims, "I didn't know I was doing it, so it doesn't count."
That excuse might work one time in your life. But once someone brings the error of your ways to your attention, then continuing to make the same mistake over and over is akin to digging your own grave.
So listen up! The words I'm about to share with you hurt your sales efforts. When you use them in your attempts to get into accounts, you literally create problems for yourself. In today's crazy marketplace, that's the last thing you need to happen.
To make matters even worse, you probably carefully selected these words to impress your prospects with the value your company provides or the kind of relationship your firm establishes with its good customers. So ... drum roll ... here they are:
1. Leading-Edge (state-of-the-art, industry-leading)
The moment you start using words like this, you've turned into a self-serving salesperson. You may not think so and it most likely isn't your intent, but that's how your prospect sees you.
Why? Because you're trying to impress her with how wonderful your offering is. Everyone knows that that's how salespeople talk. The more you brag about your offering, the less believable you are. Even if your product or service is the most advanced in the entire world, your prospect knows that it's only a matter of months before some other firm has a competitive offering that probably costs less.
Don't talk about your offering. Leave out all the descriptors that supposedly make it so incredible. Focus on your customer's objectives, challenges and issues instead. You need to get them to move off the status quo and those "bragging" words just don't do it.
2. Partner (partnership)
Many well-intentioned sellers insert this word in their initial contacts with prospective clients. They graciously say, "We're looking to partner with..." Do you know how that's heard by your prospects? It's totally self-serving again. You might as well say, "We're looking to sell lots and lots of our stuff to you, but we don't want to use that awful word because it sounds so crass."
Corporate decision makers don't need another partner. Believe me, they have enough already. Besides, partnerships have to be earned over time. Or they're highly strategic and negotiated at the top levels of the organization.
Don't call up and propose a partnership. Instead talk about the significant results you can deliver on a high priority business objective.
3. One-Stop Shopping
Of all the phrases used by sellers today, this one might be the worst. Perhaps your marketing department told you to use it. Or, if you're a small firm, maybe you think it makes you sound like one of the "big boys."
But most often I see sellers use it because they're scared of losing a potential opportunity. They want to make sure their entire laundry list of offerings is on the table in hopes that prospects find something that they need in it.
One-stop shopping is the tritest & overused sales buzz word today. Everyone says it, so it doesn't differentiate you in the least. In fact, it makes you sound like a "Jack of all trades, but a master of none."
When prospects hear it, their automatic response is, "We're already working with XYZ firm" or "Generic Services takes care of that for us." Done! You're out. You've created your own obstacle and it's just about impossible to get around it.
Don't talk one-stop shopping. Instead hone in on one aspect of your product/service offering. Choose one that may:
- Be important based on what you know is happening in their firm.
- Address an area where your competitors may be weak.
- Solve a problem they didn't even know they had.
Don't say the same thing everyone else does. It makes you so easily dismissible. Sure you can learn objection-handling techniques and maybe even recover if you get really good at them. But a better solution is to not use words that create those kinds of problems for you in the first place.
Eliminate these three deadly words from your account-entry campaigns and you'll be much further ahead.
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Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies , helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. Visit http://www.SellingtoBigCompanies.com for more info. Get a free Sales Call Planning Guide ($19.95 value) when you sign up for the Selling to Big Companies e-newsletter. Just send an email with "subscribe" in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be sent right to you.