Last night, I was enjoying my favorite summer TV show, "America's Got Talent," on Hulu. A leather-clad dance crew with fire spewing shoes finished their clogging routine and the show cut to a commercial break. But instead of seeing the Ford "Speed Dating" commercial that I've just about memorized, the video player went completely black except for a small strip of text that read, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Click here to fix it." Really? You want me to fix your video player so I can watch more ads? Not even if you sent me a pair of fire spewing shoes! "Hulu, you have no clue."
The senselessness of Hulu's message would be the same as a salesperson approaching a potential customer at a networking event and whispering, "I have laryngitis. Here's my brochure. Would you mind reading my sales pitch out loud so I can save my voice?"
Ridiculous, right? Actually, it's not that far from the clueless expressions salespeople use with customers every day. The classic is: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions." (You've never done this, right?)
The worst thing about clueless messages isn't that they don't yield responses. It results in your customers losing respect for you and saying to themselves the same thing I did about Hulu. "Salesperson, you have no clue." It doesn't just trash the sale - it tarnishes your reputation.
It's time to replace the senseless utterances salespeople use so frequently with response-getting, respect-building, relationship-advancing articulations that help you make sales.
Let's start with the one I bashed above:
Clueless Saying #1: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions."
Why it's clueless: It's a smokescreen anyone can see through. You have to admit you don't really care if they have questions. You're just tired of waiting for them to respond.
Here's the clue: If you've built rapport, given value first, and truly left them wanting to buy, then you can keep it honest, simple, friendly, and confident.
Replacement: "Can I get an update?"
Clueless Saying #2: "Is there anything else I can do to win your business?"
Why it's clueless: It's an admission that you haven't inspired enough trust for the customer to level with you about their real reason for not wanting to buy.
Here's the clue: If your customer is hesitating and you feel there is some barrier you haven't uncovered and removed yet, ask an empowering question that invites them to create a "perfect world" scenario. Often, they'll reveal their hidden reservations, giving you the chance to provide ideas and answers that will help close the sale.
Replacement: "What one thing would you change about our product that would make it close to perfect?"
Clueless Saying #3: "Do you know what we do?"
Why it's clueless: A favorite opener at trade shows and networking events, this question is really a confession that you're probably not well-known. Bad way to start. But it's popular because it's an easy way to open a conversation with a stranger. The problem is that it puts the customer in an awkward position. 9 times out of 10, they'll respond, "No, I've never heard of you."
Here's the clue: The replacement for this one is simply to turn it around. It seems obvious, but very few salespeople ever ask it.
Replacements: "Tell me what you do." or "What business are you in?"
Clueless Saying #4: "Thanks again."
Why it's clueless: This is how all mediocre salespeople end their follow-up emails after initial meetings with customers. It's using false politeness in the hopes that gratitude will gain you favor. It's what you say to your plumber for removing the knee-high septic backup in your basement - not a customer.
Here's the clue: Customers don't want to be drenched in gratitude. They want you to help them make more money and be successful. Nix the hyper-thankfulness. Instead, end your emails with a confident question that keeps the conversation moving, or just ask for the sale.
"What's the next step?"
"When can you meet again?"
"What details need to be squared away?"
"How does that sound?"
"Ready to get started?"
Clueless Saying #5: "Are you still interested?"
Why it's clueless: You already know the answer and it's "no." If they were truly interested they would have contacted you. Silent prospects are either not interested at all or more interested in something else.
Here's the clue: A better strategy is to give them new informaton or fresh ideas to consider.
Replacement: "Here's a new idea for you. Take a look and let me know what you think."
Clueless Saying #6: "Great to meet you. I'll give you a call."
Why it's clueless: The majority of salespeople use this expression to close a conversation with a new contact, but it's as meaningless as the standard greeting "How are you?" Essentially, it translates to: "We'll probably never talk again."
Here's the clue: Say goodbye to new contacts by giving them something to chew on. Challenge them. Leave them with a cliffhanger. Set them up for your next meeting in style.
"When I follow up with you tomorrow, I want your answer to this question..."
"I'm going to contact you very soon - be thinking about this..."
"If I could help you do [x], how much more [y] would you have? I'll call for your answer."
"I have a riddle for you. See if you can answer it before I follow up."
"When I follow up, be prepared to talk about yourself and hear specific ideas about how I can help you."
I challenge you to examine your entire sales process for meaningless messages. Remove them. Replace them with something valuable that differentiates you and continues the pattern of intelligence and providing answers.
It would have been so much better if Hulu had just said, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Congratulations! This commercial "break" is sponsored by Ford."
Maybe you have another Clueless Sales Saying or a better replacement than mine. Add your comment below!