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 home building business, the choice of words can often mean the difference between the life and death of the sale. Yet most of us seldom take the time to be certain in advance that the words we choose will have the desired effect.
Over the past years, I have had the opportunity to shop thousands of new home salespeople and brokers around the country. And most of the 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.”
A Poor Choice of Words Can Destroy the Sales 'Moment' — and Hours Worth of Effort
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 in the example in the opening question, “interior,” cannot possibly enhance the sales process. 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. Yet without proper thought and training, those words that naturally permeate our everyday vocabulary, will leak out at the most inopportune times during the sales process.
Modify Your Choice of Works With Behavior Modification
So how do we prevent those negative words from affecting the sales process? The only way to prevent their use is through behavior modification, training and practice.
One of the tools I use when training new salespeople and teaching the Certified New Homes Sales Professional (CSP) program is to introduce a list of what I have termed “Power Selling Words.” These words are simply common adjectives and adverbs that can be used to add positive connotations to the features in our homes and communities, but I require the group to use them in sentences.
As I believe in both positive and negative reinforcement, we continue that process with a take-home assignment of putting down in writing 20 sentences describing their homes and communities 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.
Be aware of the power of your words and you will be surprised at the difference it will make!
Daniel R. Levitan is president of Levitan & Associates, a marketing and development consulting firm based in Florida that serves builder and developer clients throughout the United States. He is also a charter member, past president and multi-term trustee of IRM, multi-term trustee of the NSMC and multi-term trustee of the Seniors Housing Council. He can be reached by phone at 954-473-4244 or by e-mail at email@example.com. E-mail him for a copy of his list of “Power Selling Words.”
Originally published in NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine ©2004.
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