Think back to that one sales person you encountered who just had the ability to sell anything to anyone and create opportunities in the most outrageous places. Chances are their selling tactics consisted of more than the basic used car dealership tactics.
“Always be digging” should replace the sales favourite, "Always be selling." The more questions you ask, the more information you have. This gives you the chance to align solutions with problems and customer languages to product specification.
Let’s begin understanding the power and uses of sales linguistics:
Speaking the Customer's Language
Each customer is unique, they have their own unique preferences and, most importantly, they have their own language which expresses those preferences. Now tell that to a salesperson with a pitch that highlights endless specs or case studies with a focus on ROI - they won't believe you.
If a salesperson doesn't get that, they are in trouble. They're in trouble because while some love that sort of data, others not so much.
Remember, each customer's language has developed because of the things they've achieved or the problems they've faced.
Some customers are wealthy and others are struggling under massive debts, people have different values and different personal and professional situations. All of these factors shape how people express themselves. This is the uniqueness that a corporate sales pitch rarely addresses, it’s usually a script constructed from high-level data that focuses on groups and averages, instead of individuals.
The key to creating the perfect sales pitch and becoming an elite salesperson is to listen early, ask key questions and start building your own customer persona. The greatest and most successful salespeople have always had the ability to change their language to suit the customers, this way you can close deals that were almost lost or earn the customer's trust without offering them huge incentives.
Conversation is an art form and, for a salesperson, conversation opens all sorts of doors. Conversation gives you the information you need so you aren't throwing around details, like product stats and case studies, just hoping to get a bite.
Few people respond to such a random approach, fewer still become dedicated lifelong customers.
In reality, your conversations need to be customer-centric, it's mostly a chance to ask questions and listen, answering with relevant data, and then turning the conversation back to your customer to ensure you are "always digging."
Short Circuiting the Cognitive Decision Maker
You make your decisions 7 seconds before you actively realise it, your subconscious is the true decision maker.
There are plenty of tips on how to speak with the decision maker or win them over, yet few try to explain how the decision maker's mind and decision-making process actually works. A key aspect of decision-making, especially on a B2B level is the use of somatic markers within the mind.
Think of a somatic marker as a time machine, when you’re tasked with making a difficult choice or decision you go into cognitive overload which kick-starts your subconscious and puts it in charge of the decision-making process for you.
Somatic markers work when you are overwhelmed. When you are faced with a tough decision, your mind defaults to relying on previous experience. It does so reflexively and this is how our past actions, decisions, and experiences cause us to think with a bias.
This is why speaking the customer's language is so important: speaking their language reduces cognitive stress, short circuits the subconscious, and that means people's decisions are made less by reflex and more by rational thought.
The Linguistics of Pitching
Great sales pitches involve more than just matching the customer's tone and language. There are three different stages, all of which are shaped by the pitchers personal style and attitude toward the audience and actual pitch:
- Build rapport. The first few minutes of the pitch should involve the pitcher being friendly and answering questions, this is where comedy and small talk are acceptable and encouraged.
- Develop authority. The main pitch should involve a heap of confidence and relevant facts.
- Close. The closing involves taking command of the room. You can take command because you've developed rapport and displayed your authority. Take over, create a buzz, and make your ask.
Sales pitches are part art and part science. Present yourself well, know your audience, and reduce cognitive stress - you will have an easier time winning people over.
Marius Fermi is Director of Online Communications at Tactical Sales Training. He is working towards growing their online presence and increasing revenue, whilst improving the sales processes of multinational brands.