Today’s post is by Chris Orlob, senior director of product marketing at Gong.io, the number one conversation intelligence platform for B2B sales teams. Gong helps you convert more of your pipeline into revenue by shining the light on your sales conversations.
Comedian George Carlin once said there were “no bad words – only bad thoughts and bad intentions.” While Carlin was right about so much, when it comes to sales, it seems there really are some bad words – 13 of them, in fact.
This is not conjecture, but scientifically proven data. The data science team at Gong.io used AI to analyze 519,000-plus B2B sales call recordings from SaaS companies. The technology transcribed all the calls, speaker-separated them, and analyzed them using machine learning and natural language processing. What the team found was that there are 13 words and phrases that will drop your conversion rates.
Evoking this word might make it seem like you view the current sale as a conquest in a game you are playing against others. It’s OK to mention competitors once or twice, but too many mentions can detract from what is supposed to be a conversation about the prospect’s needs.
Who’s afraid of big numbers? Apparently, customers are.
And it’s not just billions, but “million,” “100 million,” and other large numbers, too.
Though it’s possible they are actually suffering from meganumerophobia, a more likely explanation is that such numbers don’t summon an image but, instead are rather abstract. As Dilbert creator and former hypnotist Scott Adams has noted, “When you cause someone to picture something, you gain a degree of control over their thinking.”
If you’re trying to make a point about the number of widgets you sold last year, maybe point out instead that it was “one for every two U.S. households” and your prospect will picture that instead.
Drop this word during a sales call, and the likelihood of you closing the deal drops by 17 percent.
Why? Likely because it commoditizes and cheapens the product. Does Apple ever talk about discounts? No, and they’re doing pretty well.
This bit of jargon sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, that’s the problem – it’s jargon. It also smacks of disingenuousness because salespeople aren’t product managers and usually can’t say with a degree of certainty what will be on the roadmap. Customers know this.
This word has the same effect “marriage” does during a first date. Mention a contract and your close rate falls 7 percent. Say “agreement” or “paperwork” or “form” instead.
6. “Absolutely” and “Perfect”
These words are fine when used sparingly; but, when they’re used more than four times during a call, advance rates drop 16 percent. It’s likely the repetition undercuts the meaning. Things are rarely perfect or absolute in real life, and overuse of these words comes off as a happy-talk tic.
7. “Free Trial”
People like the idea of free trials, but they don’t like that terminology (probably because it makes you sound like everyone else.) Say “free trial” and you’ll decrease your likelihood of proceeding to the next step by 5 percent. “Pilot” is a good alternative term to use.
Like “contract,” these words trigger the “What am I getting into?” reflex. Saying “onboarding” is nearly as bad, according to the data. A better way to convey the same thought is by saying, “get started.”
9. “Show You How”
This is another phrase that’s OK in moderation, but can be poison if overused. If you say “show you how” more than four times in a call, your close rate will drop 13 percent. Spend more energy showing them “why” instead.
10. “We Provide”
This phrase seems to put you on an equal plane with the ShamWow guy in terms of trust and believability. When used four or more times, close rates dropped 22 percent, according to the data.
11. “For Example”
This may seem like another head-scratcher, but it may just fall under the heading “Things Salespeople Say” in many people’s minds. While it’s good to try to prompt a visual image in a subtle way, “for example” seems to be a little too forceful an approach.
This is another word that sets off alarm bells. It is important to phrase it properly to not scare your prospects away. Instead of “The monthly payment for the software is $2,500,” say, “The monthly amount for our software is $2,500.” “Amount” isn’t as emotionally charged as “payment.”
Another word that falls under the 4X rule: use it more than four times and you’re sabotaging yourself. “However” is a bit high-falutin and smacks of sneakiness. Use “but” instead.
Bonus Tip: Go easy on your company name. Drop it 4X and close rates plunge 14 percent. Drop it six times and they fall 19 percent. People want to have a conversation, not hear an ad.