Playwright George Bernard Shaw is alleged to have said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” That quote is absolutely true in sales. Since words are the tools that a salesperson uses to sell, good communication is critical. You will not make the sale if you experience only the illusion that communication has taken place.
Here is how to more effectively communicate when you sell.
Avoid ambiguous “gray” words
One of the most important outcomes of good communication is both parties understanding precisely what has been said. When a salesperson speaks, their objective should be to be clear. One way to be clear is to avoid using gray words or words that are open to interpretation. Gray words can be comparative words like more, less, better, and worse. When you hear a customer say he wants more, do you really know how many more he wants?
Gray words can also be broad like fewer, a lot, always, and never. Anything that suggests an evaluation against a yardstick is a gray word. What happens is we interpret what’s been said from our own frame of reference and we are often wrong. If you hear a gray word when you’re selling, ask for clarification to improve the communication.
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Choose positive over negative
When a salesperson speaks, they should be easily understood. And it’s far easier to be understood when statements are positive versus negative. Here is an example.
Read the following two sentences and determine which is one easier to understand. The first one is “Selling is easy.” The second one is “Selling is not hard.” Both sentences mean the same thing. I’ll bet you thought that “Selling is easy” was easier to understand. What it took for your brain to understand it was a simpler process. Here’s what happened.
When someone speaks in the negative, the listener first has to determine what the positive means. When you read, “Selling is not hard,” your brain had to first construct what “selling is hard” meant. Then there was a second step where you had to determine that selling was not that. However, when you read, “Selling is easy,” your brain didn’t have to construct a second step. It immediately understood what “selling is easy” means.
You don’t want your listener to have to work when you speak. Avoid using negatives to enhance the understanding of your communication in sales.
Watch your speaking pace
Another objective to enhance communication when you’re selling is to be believable. You want your customers to trust what you say. Unfortunately, some sales situations are stressful which can cause a salesperson to get nervous. What often happens when a salesperson gets nervous is they will start speaking faster. This can become a problem in sales because when a person is not telling the truth, they also will start speaking faster—it’s an unconscious way of distancing themselves from the lie. As you can imagine, being perceived as untruthful in selling is an obstacle to effective communication.
Originally published at All Business