Over the years I've spent in business development, consulting, and client service, I've found somewhat consistently (albeit anecdotally) that using the right words within the proper context and with the right audience can help close a deal, save a project, or soothe a frustrated client. If the following words are active in your vocabulary - great. If they aren't - you may want to consider peppering more of your conversations with them:
- "Sorry" - probably the most important word in the English language (or any other language). I use sorry a lot. "Sorry, I'm not sure I understand your business model. Sorry, I thought I sent that email but it looks like I didn't. Sorry, I thought the call was 1 CST not 1 EST. Sorry, I should have made that clear in the proposal." If you're a salesperson who can't accept blame, you're probably not a very good salesperson. Taking the blame in a conversation, a call, or discussion allows real work to occur. I've been on many calls where, after I took blame for a particular problem caused by me or my team, the conversation progressed. It's a powerful thing to do.
- "OK?" - That question mark is important, very important. You must consistently seek affirmation or agreement or acceptance. "Is that OK? I would like to have you meet with my CEO, OK? Would it be OK if I sent you a proposal? Always seek permission. If you seek permission and don't get it, find out what the road block is. Lack of permission may be a sign the deal may not work, the lead may not be qualified, you're not talking to the decision maker, or you're generally screwing things up.
- "Thanks...." - Don't just say thanks - follow it with something meaningful. "Thanks for your time. Thanks for downloading information from our website. Thanks for calling me back. Thanks for your expertise." Just today, I thanked a client for sharing detailed revenue information with me. Ultimately, it will help us set lead generation and sales goals together. If the client wasn't so forthcoming with this confidential information, it could impact our success moving forward. I'm glad (thankful) we have a relationship so early in the development process that allows him to share this sort of information.
What words are indispensable in your sales or lead nurturing process? What words have brought you the most success?