In response to my last blog on “Failure To Communicate” I have gotten numerous requests for copies of an article I wrote in 2004 for Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine and republished in Nations Building News so here it is again.
Recently my wife and I were enjoying dinner at an upscale chain restaurant when, after completing our salads, our server inquired, “May I retire your plates?” I answered yes and then, realizing how wonderfully refreshing that phrasing was, stopped him to ask whether that was an original choice of words or had been furnished by the restaurant during training. His response was that those were his own words and, after trying several others, he believed it would leave a unique and positive impression on his customers. His professionalism was rewarded as I was certain to leave a generous tip when we departed and ask for him again the next time we visited the restaurant.
This afternoon I was driving down the street and noticed the service truck from Rooms To Go parked in the driveway of a home. What struck me as unique was the identification slogan painted on the side of the truck. Instead of the typical “SERVICE,” this truck read “CUSTOMER SATISFACTION.” What a wonderful image to convey through the simple process of using a creative choice of words.
The power of words is truly amazing. For nations, words can mean the difference between war and peace. For a married couple, the wrong words can lead to divorce. In the new home sales arena the choice of words can often mean the difference between life and death (of the sale). Yet most of us seldom take the time to be certain in advance that the words we choose to use will have the desired effect.
Over the past years I have had the opportunity to shop thousands of new home sales people and brokers around the country. And the majority of time the salesperson will inadvertently say something that could create a negative impression, either about the home, the community, or the builder, and thereby destroy the sales “moment.” My favorite, which I heard again just last week, goes something like this: “Now let’s take a look at the small bedrooms.”
Having used that phrasing, the salesperson has now suggested that he or she thinks the secondary bedrooms are small and has transferred that perception to the prospects, whether or not they previously believed it. I do not believe that anyone wants “small” bedrooms, especially, in this case, in a $300,000 home.
Using negative words such as “small,” or “interior” to describe a homesite location cannot possibly enhance the sales process. Yet without proper thought and training those words which naturally permeate our everyday vocabulary will inevitably leak out at the most inopportune times during the sales process. And the only way to prevent the use of these negative words is through behavior modification.
There is no question that words are powerful and, in new home sales, a poor choice of words used by the sales staff can often negate an hour or more of the sales agent’s efforts toward consensus building and buyer interest. So how do we modify that behavior? By training and practice! One of the tools I use when training new salespeople and in teaching the CSP program is to introduce a list of what I have termed “Power Selling Words” and require the group to use them in sentences describing their homes and communities. These words are simply common adjectives and adverbs that can be used to add positive connotations to the features in our homes and communities.
As I believe in both positive and negative reinforcement, we continue that process with a take-home assignment of putting down in writing 20 such sentences each morning for the next week. We keep a jar in the sales office and every time the salesperson uses a negative word he or she is fined $2 which is added to the jar (we trust the sales staff to self-police on this issue). Every month we use that fund to send flowers or a special thank-you gift (on behalf of the sales staff) to a local broker who has recently promoted our homes and brought us prospects. Within the first few months that fund shrinks dramatically as the learning process firmly takes hold but we are happy to make up the difference from the income generated from the extra sales.
Be aware of the power of your words and you will be surprised at the difference it will make!
Please visit our company’s website to learn more about our services – http://levitanassociates.net.