7 Incredibly persuasive words and how you can use them in your sales efforts
As a person who works in marketing I tend to think I’m relatively impervious to the litany of marketing efforts I, and everyone else on the planet, are subjected to on a daily basis. For the most part, I avoid most of the basic attempts to get my attention, but sometimes an email, or Facebook ad comes my way and I can’t help but click.
A couple months ago I decided to start paying closer attention to the ads, and subject lines, which drew me in and caused me to take action. As I started keeping a mental catalogue a few trends began to emerge with the things I was clicking on.
First and foremost, I tended to click on things that were addressing a need I currently had, which makes sense. Next, I tended to click on things I’m generally interested in. Again, makes sense. However, the other major theme that stood out to me was that the things most tempting to me utilized language to get me to act.
Maybe it signaled scarcity, or excitement. Or evoked a feeling of exclusivity, or quality. When you think about it, marketing messages are really meant to sell. One of my favorite quotes, which comes from Peter Drucker, is, “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”
If marketers use these persuasive words to their advantage, there’s no doubt salespeople can, too. With that in mind I put together a list of seven persuasive words and how you can apply them in your sales efforts.
Growing up we all probably heard some version of the phrase, “because I said so.” In most of those instances the impact came from the authority of the speaker. However, research shows using the word “because” is powerful even outside of being chided as a youth.
A study run by Ellen Langer showed just how powerful simply offering a reason can be by having people try to cut in line to use a Xerox machine. The researchers had the people use three different, specifically worded requests to break in line:
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?”: which resulted in 60% compliance.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”: which resulted in 93% compliance.
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”: which resulted in 94% compliance.
The surprising thing here is that when someone offered a reason for needing to cut they saw a 33% increase in compliance with the request. On top of that, the more compelling reason of “being in a rush” only gave a 1% increase. What this seems to show is by simply offering a reason, really any reason, you’re more likely to convince someone.
When selling instead of simply telling someone about a feature, give a reason for its existence using “because.” For example, at Qwilr analytics for proposals is a top feature of ours. So, we might say, “we offer in-depth analytics because they allow you insights into the prospect’s mindset you may not have access to otherwise.”
We tend to like new things. Whether it’s the novelty of it, or the assumption that new is synonymous with “better,” we tend to respond positively to new things. Most of the time we think about newness as it relates to our offering. New features, or services.
However, that’s just one way to think about something being new. You could also be offering new technology, or a new approach. Both of which could be equally exciting to a potential customer. So, when selling be sure you’re considering all the different angles you could take on something being “new.”
If you watch enough HGTV you’ll quickly realize a trend with real estate agents. A lot of the time when showing a prospective buyer a property they refer to the home as if the person already lives there. For example, they may say “check out your kitchen.”
It’s a relatively small thing, but it accomplishes two things. First, on a very basic level, it personalizes the experience to that person. Second, it potentially helps the prospective buyer envision themselves in that specific property, which can be a very powerful thing.
Using those lessons, make sure you’re doing everything possible to personalize the sales process for your prospects. Also, try to set up scenarios in which they can envision themselves using your product first-hand.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a huge focus on the user-experience. Most of which comes down to making products, especially software, as easy to use as possible. In fact, research by the Harvard Business Review found companies who do the best job of making their features and benefits easy to understand have better sales conversion rates.
Based on that information, people are interested in things being easy. In some ways you’re using “easy” as a way to reassure the prospect that they’ll be able to accomplish what they want with your product, and that it won’t cause any headaches in the process.
There’s a great episode of Seinfeld where Jerry goes to get a car he’s reserved. Once there, he’s informed they don’t have a car for him. He rightly points out that taking a reservation isn’t really what matters, it’s keeping the reservation. The same is true with guarantees.
Assurance is a powerful thing, and using the word “guaranteed” is a great way to offer some sort of assurance. It’s why we see things like “money back guarantee” and various other promises. However, just like a reservation, what really matters is making good on the promise. So, only offer guarantees you can deliver on.
Scarcity is a powerful motivator. Often the less of something we think there is, the more urgency we feel to purchase. For example, if you go to the grocery store and see there’s only one of a certain item left you’re probably more likely to purchase it than if the shelves were stocked full.
Though scarcity as it relates to quantity is one way to use “limited” i.e. “limited supply” for people in software, or selling some other service, one of the most powerful uses of limited is in relation to time. For example, you might mention you have a “limited-time offer.”
When employed properly, you can add a layer of urgency to the process, which can help close more deals, and also help close deals faster. Both of which are important to overall sales success.
If you’ve ever wondered why something being free is so enticing, think about this: “free” is essentially a no-risk proposition. It doesn’t require anything of you. So, if it’s bad, no problem, it didn’t cost you anything. It’s almost pure upside.
When considering it from that point of view, it becomes a lot more understandable why it’s easy to draw people in using “free.” In sales, you can basically put “free” in front of most things (free trial, free consultation, free report etc.) and get somewhat of a boost.
The main thing to keep in mind is that though there isn’t basically no cost to the consumer, your free item does still need to impart some value. It needs to be enough to show how useful the offering could be, but not so useful they can survive with just that version.
As a salesperson, words are tools. They help you close deals, and express ideas to prospects. They also can help you persuade. The plain and simple fact is some words are more persuasive than others, but you do have to deploy them with tact.
Have a plan for when you use those persuasive terms to get the most impact. However, you also need to be sure you’re able to deliver on any promise your words make, otherwise it’ll all be for naught. So, mind your p’s and q’s, get creative, and start persuading.
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