What words do you use to describe yourself and your products and services? Are there words you intentionally try to keep out the mind of your prospects or clients? Do you use euphemisms instead of plain English when making a presentation in order to try to elicit a particular feeling or response from your prospect?
As salespeople, we’ve been taught to frame our conversations and presentations in ways that lead our prospects and clients to the conclusions and decisions we wish them to arrive at. In order to do this, we are advised by some to refrain from using certain words that may evoke a negative reaction—or to use words that will evoke a negative reaction, depending on what we want our prospect to think or feel.
Much of this advice is based on the idea that if we control the conversation we control the prospect’s attitude, thinking, and ultimately, their decision making process. In other words, by carefully controlling the words used in the conversation, we can control the prospect’s thought process.
Some sales trainers even go so far as to recommend we not bring up potential negatives—don’t address a non-existent objection so as not to plant a potential objection in the prospect’s mind. Or if an objection is raised, deflect it and return to the presentation or closing the sale. Gloss over the objection and it will go away.
It seems George Orwell has become the director of sales training. Orwell’s Newspeak is now the new “sales speak.” No longer is communicating with a prospect as a rational human sufficient; now we are exhorted to in essence treat them as nothing more than a computer, inputting only the data we want them to compute–as though if we don’t give them the words, they won’t be able to think the thoughts we don’t want them to think.
Orwell believed that words are the keys to thought. If the words don’t exist to communicate a particular thought or concept, it isn’t possible to think the thought or concept. Consequently, if you can control the words someone has available to them, you can control not only what they think, but eventually how they act. Orwell later repudiated the concept. Unfortunately, a version of this concept has become quite popular in some areas of sales training.
Like Orwell’s world of 1984, some view the world of sales as an arena where words are not simply powerful in influencing thought and behavior; they are the creators of thought and behavior. If we don’t say it, the prospect will never think it. If we can frame it using the words we want, the prospect will never think of their own words to describe it or question it.
Rather than trying to communicate, we are told by some that if we create the conversation we wish to have with the prospect, the prospect will unknowingly go along with us. If only we learn the right words and phrases to use—and the words and phrases to avoid, we can direct the prospect to the ”proper” decision. Selling in this view is simply an exercise in rhetoric.