It's hard selling in English when it's not your first language. You need to learn the English you need to sell, you know how to sell. This article is designed to help you. You will find all the most important English phrases for selling. With time and practice you will learn to tailor them to your own specific needs getting increasingly more confident as you get more and more fluent. We are focusing on the choice of language and the way it is delivered here.
1. Building A Rapport With Your Prospect
First impressions count. You will not get a second chance. A foreign speaker of English needs to take extra special care with the choice of words that they use and how they deliver their speech.
Words – to use & to avoid
We know that people buy more when they are in a positive frame of mind. So avoid giving a normally negative and grumpy client the chance to tell you what an awful day they are having by substituting "Great to see you again!" for "How are things?"
Also, always try and choose "can do" positive language that shows your prospect just how enthusiastic and happy to help you are: "Yes, that would be no problem" "of course we can!" "Absolutely, if that helps, we'll do it."
Get your prospect to visualize the benefits of ownership and buying from you: "Can you imagine how much easier life will be when you can …?" "Think of the money you will be saving in the mid to long term!".
In this way you are also presenting the answer to a client's problem: "If you can reduce costs by buying these, you will be able to make more competitive offers to your customers."
Never start a conversation by apologising. It demeans you: "Sorry to bother you, I'll be very quick" "Just a quick call to see if you have time to speak to me". Do not use negatives! You are doing your customer a favor! Your product is great so what are you saying sorry for?
There are some words that should never be used as they just make the listener feel small. Any sentence beginning with "Obviously, …." or "Basically, …." or "Actually, …" will have this negative effect, so avoid them! When it comes to sales, your voice is the powerful thing that you have. Consider: pace – pitch – projection.
The speed that you talk at should match that of your prospect. Like with body language, it always pays to "mirror" the other person. In English we use a much clearer range of pitch than most other languages. Listen to "the music" when native speakers are talking, I bet it sounds exaggerated and unnatural to you. Try and use a sentence above in a variety of ways: "Great to see you again!" First of all, say it absolutely flat, then exaggerate it so it rises steeply on the two stressed words of the sentence: GREAT and SEE: "GREAT to SEE you again!". Remember, when the tone is flat to a native speaker you will sound bored / uninterested in the person you are talking to / negative and rude. However, if you can manage to exaggerate enough you will sound interested / motivated / polite and genuine! This is crucial as you try to make your potential customer feel important.
Finally, remember that you will sound too aggressive and "pushy" to a UK English speaker if you speak too loudly.
2. Identifying Your Customer's Needs And Wants
"Wh" questions: "why / what / where / when / who and how" are all more productive when asking questions to identify a customer's needs and wants. This is because they are open and so produce much more than a closed yes / no question which should be avoided. Remember that open questions always end with falling intonation, whilst closed yes / no questions always end with rising intonation.
You also need to have a good listener and do some "active listening": Respond, restate and reflect.
By physically nodding your head and making the right noises you show the other person that you are listening carefully to them. You can also use "verbal nodding" by making the "Mmm" noise at the appropriate time. Remember, the intonation pattern that you use will indicate what you think eg. falling intonation indicates positive agreement and understanding, a rise fall pattern shows enthusiastic agreement with fall rise patterns indicating you are not sure you agree.
You can check that you are following the other person by reformulating back to them what they have just said to you. "So if I understand correctly, what you want is …." is a good example of this.
Finally, reflecting means "mirroring" the other person's: language + voice (see above) + body language. People do business with people they like. We all like people who listen to us!
3. Presenting A Tailored Solution
The best way to present your product / service to a client is to highlight its features and benefits to them. Features are what the product "has", "is" or "does". The benefits should then be connected to this answering the prospect's question: "What's in it for me?". So, we need to link a specific feature to a particular benefit by using "which means …". Imagine you're selling an ecologically friendly car: "All of our electric cars run for up to 100 kms on a 3 hour charge from the household mains which means it's quick, easy and cheap to maintain." Research into the behavior of top performing sales staff shows that it is those salespeople who take the time to regularly write out the features and related benefits of the products or services that they are selling who consistently achieve the best results.
4. Trial close
It's always useful to "test the water" with a trial close so any objections that your prospect might have will come out, allowing you to deal with them. However, if they do answer in the positive, you can simply go ahead and close the deal. The following are useful trial closes to try out. Do not forget to exaggerate your intonation:
"How does THAT sound?" "Is that the sort of thing that you had in MIND?" "HOW do you feel about THAT?" "Could you see how THAT would save you MONEY?"
5. Dealing With Objections
When a client makes an objection, it's a good thing because at least you know what is stopping them getting to "yes". By listening very carefully you can attempt to respond to the customer's objection. Again, it helps if you think through the most probable objections and your responses to them by brainstorming them and then writing them down in advance of your meeting / call.
The Onion Method Sometimes we need to discover if the prospect is making a real objection or just making an excuse, so like an onion, we have to start to peel away the layers and deal with each one in turn. Below are some useful questions that will allow you to better understand:
"Apart from that, is there anything else?" "Is that the only thing that's holding you back?" "Is it just the cost that's holding you back?"
However, once you feel that you know the objection is genuine, you can try the following question:
"If I can … (solve the problem), will you: be happy / go ahead / be ready to sign / buy from us?"
The Feel, Felt, Found Method When the prospect is wrong in their objection or is just expressing a way they feel about something then the best method might be:
"I know how you feel, I felt the same way, until I found that it is actually cheaper."
Even better if you can use a third person example, especially someone they already respect:
"You know, I remember this happening to Herr Schmidt at Daimler Chrysler, I could understand his hesitation and he felt the same way as you, but then we tried it this way and it worked really well!"
We will look at 3 different ways of closing the deal and the different language required:
The Direct Close When we are very confident of getting a "yes" we can use this technique, it is usually in the form of a closed yes / no question:
"Would you like to go ahead?" "Should I sign you up for 10?" "When do you want to start?"
The Alternative Close This gives the client 2 choices, both of which are good results for you!
"Would you like to take 20 units or book an order of 5 per month?" "Shall we deliver tomorrow or on Saturday?"
The Presumptive Close You need to make this one sound spontaneous, by your intonation!
"I know! How about me booking you a test drive?" "Tell you what! Why not try a free lesson?"
And finally, always remember SW SW SW. Some will, some will not, so what? Who cares? Who's next? But be nice to everyone, every time!