Say what you mean … and mean what you say…


“If you have to look the meaning of a word up … don’t use it.” – Stephen King


Pick up any corporate brochure today and the chances are you will have stumbled across what is the paper-based equivalent of a cup of Horlicks. Sleep-inducing doesn’t even come close to saying it. If you wish to be liked and trusted, don’t allow that sort of marketing speak to litter your own sales delivery.


Don’t let words confuse the meaning

This is a pet hate of anyone who wishes to communicate clearly. Why speak of ‘core competencies’ when you can just say ‘the things we’re great at’, or of ‘conformance to industry standards’, when you can say ‘it will work with all your other stuff’?

Many salespeople still make the mistake of trying to sound sophisticated, cool and intelligent, little realising that there is no way to sound dumb when you know what you are talking about and are able to come out and just say it.

You sound dumb when you don’t have the answers, not when you choose to use basic, plain, easy-to-understand, language.


Always aim to be understood

When you get into a taxi, you give directions or the address of your destination in as clear a way as you possibly can. Why? Because you have neither the time nor the money to waste driving around all over the city as the taxi driver tries to interpret what you meant.

So you already understand the value of being crystal clear when you need to be understood.

Of course that doesn’t mean you should say less than you need to; Einstein said that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler”. You still have a message to get across and it may be a detailed one. Just think about the words you use.


If in doubt … just do this …

If you are the sort of salesperson who parrots off long and complicated words because you think that is what is in order, try a simple little trick: speak the way you would speak to someone you respect, but not too highly. You probably wouldn’t swear or use slang in front of your most feared parent-in-law or your kid’s headmaster, but you also wouldn’t kowtow to them either. That gives you a simple, elegant level to speak at. Speak that way to customers too. And then, when you write something – an email for example – write like you speak. You will be a lot easier to buy from.


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