HAVE YOU EVER MISSPOKE and lost the sale?
Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
No doubt you can “see” a huge difference between the two. Here’s an example using “fee” versus “cost.”
“Fee vs. Cost”
In our business, we “talk” for a living. We ask clients questions. We have conversations with them. We try to influence them.
But have you ever stopped to think about the specific words and phrases you use?
Often, we have a tendency to wing it. We think we’ve been at this business so long that we can just “speak off the top of our head” and we’ll be fine.
Um, maybe not.
Let’s say you’re talking to a client about your fees. Do you actually use the word “fee?”
If so, bad idea.
Why? In a recent industry event, a panel of investors was asked to rate the pre-recorded response of financial advisors who were describing how they got paid.
During his “how I get paid” spiel, one advisor mentioned the word “fee” four times in the span of 25 seconds.
In response, a panelist said, “Fee-based, fee-based, fee-based, we’re sitting there, oh my gosh, we’re the fee payers, all we’re hearing is fee, fee, fee.”
Along the same line, another industry consultant I spoke to said rather than use the word “fee” use the word “cost.” He said consumers are willing to pay what something “costs” rather than feel like they are getting nickeled and dimed with paying “fees.”
Stepping outside the financial services industry, politicians and activists have done a great job coming up with words and phrases that are just right for the times.
Do these ring a bell?
- “We choose to go to the moon.”
- “I have a dream.”
- “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
- “Contract with America.”
- “Change we can believe in.”
Imagine if Dr. King had said, “I have a thought” or, “I have an idea” instead of using the word “dream.” Would his impact have been the same? Hardly.
Five Communication Rules to Remember
As an advisor who wants to make an impact, here are five ways to ensure you use the right words and phrases.
- Use small words. Cut the jargon and use small words that everyday Americans understand. If you try to sound “smart” with four syllable words, you’ll just end up looking dumb.
- Use short sentences. Ironically, it takes more effort to get your point across in short sentences, but the impact is multiples greater. As pollster Frank Luntz said, “Small beats large, short beats long, and plain beats complex.”
- Appeal to higher emotions. Personalize your communication so it connects at an emotional level and “raises up” your audience. Connect with what they “aspire” to, not with what scares them. While using “scare” tactics can be effective, leave them to politicians and the nightly news.
- Paint pictures. The best communicators use language to “paint pictures” in the reader’s mind. “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is better than, “They won’t get your hands messy.”
- Create sounds. Go beyond just “painting pictures” and help your readers “hear sounds.” Kellog’s “snap, crackle, pop” is more than just a catchy slogan; you can actually “hear” them as you read them.
Are the above rules designed to manipulate your audience? No, they’re designed to influence.
Like Twain’s quote, “manipulate” is the almost right word, while “influence” is the right word. Big difference!
Before Your Next Meeting
Before your next client meeting, think about what you’re going to say. Are you trying to inform, inspire or educate them?
Whatever your goal, consciously decide on a couple words and phrases you want to use to make your point. Clients will only remember one or two points anyway, so take the time to make them memorable.
Combine the five rules above with my list of 105 Words and Phrases to Boost Your Sales. Together, you’ll be unstoppable.
Download the List to Boost Sales
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