"The trouble with salespeople is that they’ll say anything to make a sale." It’s
a common complaint and while it’s true that there are indeed some who give into that kind
of temptation, it’s doubtful that you’ll ever find one who is successful for very long. Top
sales performers get to where they are—and stay there—because they are disciplined at what
they do and because they communicate persuasively. This includes being choosy with their
words—the opposite of saying anything—so they connect meaningfully with their customers
Let me share with you two of the most powerful magic words that you as a sales professional
can use to get the results you’re looking for.
The Power of "because"
The first word is one that might surprise you, since it’s one that we all use a lot in everyday
conversation. The word is "because." To explain, let me share with you
the results of a landmark social experiment led by Harvard-based behavioral scientist,
Dr. Ellen Langer, who demonstrated how careful use
of "because" can be amazingly persuasive with people. In Dr. Langer’s experiment, her assistant
asked people waiting to use a Xerox machine if she could jump ahead of the line. Langer
found that if the line-jumper simply asked if she could use the photocopier first ("Excuse
me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?"), sixty percent would comply.
That’s not a bad result at all, but when the question was changed slightly, the results
were truly astonishing. When the line-jumper asked: "May I use the Xerox machine because
I am in a rush?" nearly everyone (94 percent) complied!
There’s valuable insight in this experiment that we can apply to sales and the art of persuasion.
First, it’s surprising how well people tend to respond to a request when you first ask for
their consent. And yet people respond even better to request or an idea when they are given
a rationale that supports what you’re asking them to do.
Consider how this can be applied to your work as a sales professional. The next time you’re
writing the closing line to a sales letter or email and you want to encourage your reader
to take action today, rather than close with "call us today," try this instead: "Act
now and call us today, because this offer expires on November 30th." The results you
get could really surprise you.
The Power of "never"
Let’s turn now to the second magic word you need in your persuasion toolbox: "never."
It’s a word that works in ways altogether different from the word "because." While that latter
word is commonplace and helps people form in their own minds a logical explanation for why
they should do what you’re asking them to do, "never" is a word that people don’t want to
be associated with.
In sales, you can leverage that to your advantage when dealing with someone who seems unwilling
to make the commitment to buy. For example, you might say: "you have looked at our products
and you have considered the benefits of choose us over our competitors…and yet I get the
sense that there will never be a chance for us to do business together."
Most people when they hear that will feel compelled to say or do something to position themselves
as far as possible from the word "never." After all, doing business with people is a positive thing,
so who would want to be seen as the person responsible for that never happening?
An Important Caveat
It’s important to remember that while these two magic words—because and never—can be very
powerful, they also have to be used with great care. They lose much of their effect if
they’re over-used. And each time you use these tools, you need to be 100% certain that
they’re backed by the truth, otherwise your credibility can be seriously damaged. As Zig
Ziglar once said: "The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is
integrity." Persuasive tools aren’t meant to deceive your customers, rather they are to
be used to help people make good choices, to commit to an idea and to help put you back
in control of a sale.