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Whose language are you speaking?
Art Sobczak
Art Sobczak

I saw an article about how golf equipment sales reps visit the various pro golf tournaments every week and try to persuade the players to use the equipment represented by the salesmen. 

A rep with a club company said that when speaking with a “technologically-challenged” player he simply says that “Our fairway woods are 10 to 15 yards longer than anything out here.” 

With someone who wants to know the how’s and why’s, he says, “The driving cavity changes the center of gravity and spreads the weight out to the toe and heel.” OK. 

This illustrates, in quite simple terms, what we all should do as salespeople: tell them what they want to hear, in their language. Don’t make them adapt to yours. 

The danger in not speaking a language they can understand is that we can confuse them.

As one of my first managers in my first corporate job out of college told me:

“The confused mind does nothing.”

Perhaps you’ve taken part in training sessions or read books on how to determine someone’s communication style through Neuro Linguistic Programming, or DISC, or the numerous other systems that put people into a quadrant and label them as Assertive-Driver, etc. 

That’s fine, but sometimes it’s overkill. To be very elementary–and why not–we should listen to what the customer/prospect tells us, and respond in 
a manner the other person understands best. 

Easier said than done. Most people are so concerned about what THEY want to say, they don’t listen to the other person. Or, they’re not aware of how to pick up on a language and style, and therefore don’t know what they don’t know. 

A tech support rep from the local cable internet provider came to my house to troubleshoot a problem with my home network. He took three minutes of nonstop talking in circles to try and explain the problem. I told him I had no idea what he just said. Then–I kid you not–he used three MORE minutes to say … basically nothing. Frustrated, I finally said,

“Bottom line, are you telling me I need a new router?” 

“Uh, yeah, pretty much.” 

OK. Here are the suggestions for this week: 

1. Brainstorm the benefits/results of your products, and put them into categories appropriate to your business.

Possibilities include “technical benefit descriptions,” “bottom line benefits,” “process benefits,” and so on.

Think of different types of people who are now interested in those benefits. Review their personality characteristics and the things they say and do that will help you identify similar traits in others.

 
2. Be more aware of what your customers, prospects, friends, spouse, coworkers … or anyone tells you, and HOW they do it. Listen carefully.

 
3. Ask great questions to get the information you need.


For example, if someone says, “Tell me how this would work,” Or, “What would this do for me?”, resist the tendency to go into a pitch. Ask them,

“What are you most interested in?”


“What’s most important to you as it relates to the …?” 

“Are you more interested in the process, or the bottom line result?”

4. Listen to recordings of your calls to determine if you’re picking up on everything during your calls. 

5. Make a commitment to USE what you hear and tailor your comments, descriptions, and recommendations in a manner and language they can best relate to. 

When we work to understand and use the other person’s language, the result is helping them get what they want, which also help us get what we want.

Art Sobczak helps sales pros prospect, sell and service accounts more effectively by using conversationally, non-salesy messaging, and without “rejection.” Get a free ebook of 501 telephone sales tips at businessbyphone.com/501-tips-ebook.  E-mail editorial@mhwmag.com to contact Art. 
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