Persuasive Language Patterns in Sales
To be a truly great salesperson, you’ll need to learn and master a lot of different skills.
Persistence, time and project management, public speaking, and interpersonal relations are just a few of the skills that will help you become a master of your craft. Yet, there’s one skill that stands above almost all of the others – a skill that when mastered can take you from an average sales pro to an elite performer.
Persuasive language is used in a wide variety of situations – from courtrooms to boardrooms to your living room – but it’s an especially valuable tool in sales.
A proper grasp of persuasive sales techniques can literally mean the difference between a sale and a failed deal.
At its core, persuasive selling is really just Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle applied to business.
If you didn’t take philosophy in college, Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle has three main ways to appeal to your audience (or in this case, your customer).
Appeal to their ethos
Essentially, we appeal to the customer’s ethos by demonstrating our credibility, reliability, and authority.
Access their pathos
In this approach, you’ll want to use words that connect with them on an emotional level, or appeal to their imagination or moral sensibilities.
Align with their logos
And finally, here you’ll want to select words that connect with the customer’s sense of logic, rationality, or reason.
Understanding persuasive language in this way is not entirely necessary for sales, but this is the foundation (whether they realize it or not…) that the best persuasive sales specialists build on. Don’t worry – there won’t be a quiz later.
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Persuasive Selling Fundamentals
Now that you have an understanding of what persuasive language is, let’s talk about the fundamentals of using this approach to increase your sales. Here are four key steps to take to get you on the path to success.
1. Find Common Ground
One of the key elements to being able to persuade people to do anything involves building rapport with them. Customers aren’t often persuaded by people they don’t like, can’t relate to, or don’t know.
The quickest way to overcome this hurdle is by simply finding common ground.
Think about it – odds are you’ve seen this persuasive selling technique many times before.
Say, for instance, you’re in the market for a new car. Any time you walk onto the lot you’ll invariably encounter a salesperson. And if they’re any good, they’ll immediately start working to find things you have in common through questions.
Once they’ve found something you have in common with them, it becomes much easier to persuade you to make a purchase. The salesperson has become more relatable because you have found common ground. They’re no longer an adversary or a stranger – they’re just like you.
2. Understand Their Needs
Once you’ve found common ground with your client or potential customer, the next step involves understanding their needs. If we don’t know what the customer needs, how can we persuade them our solution is the one they’ve been searching for?
In this step, we’ll want to continue communicating, but this is the place where you’ll want to talk less and listen more. Sometimes customers will come right out with what they need, other times, it’s hidden beneath the surface.
If you find yourself with the latter, the easiest way to dig deeper is working on that rapport you’ve already established.
The key here is to use your persuasive language – so ditch the “I” and replace it with “we” and “you” to get them talking.
3. Highlight Benefits
With common ground found and needs understood, the next step is to begin pointing out benefits of the product.
This shouldn’t be like reciting a laundry list of features and benefits, but instead should be more organic. Remember Aristotle’s triangle above? We can appeal to the customer one of three different levels (and we can mix and match if we want to).
Maybe we frame the benefits in a way that appeals to their rational nature. This product will save you time or money. Another sales persuasion tactic might be to make the case that the benefit of your product can improve their life. Asking them to imagine that better future with your product can be quite powerful.
The goal of this step is to not only showcase your product, but find a way to highlight it where it aligns with the values most likely to elicit a response from the customer. Align the benefits with their values and you’ll find selling becomes a much easier proposition.
4. Overcome Objections
When you work in sales, objections just come with the territory. Sure, there are customers who have made up their mind and are ready to buy with little effort on your part, but they’re the exception and not the norm.
Most of the time, you’ll encounter clients who are thinking about buying, but haven’t committed. They’ll undoubtedly have reasons for not making a purchase – and this is where your use of persuasive selling techniques can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Without going down the rabbit hole, overcoming objections effectively basically involves knowing your customer – if you know what motivates them according to Aristotle’s pyramid, you’ll have a better idea of how to counter their problems.
Understanding the Three Universal Languages
When it comes to persuasive selling, there are essentially three different types of “languages” your customers are speaking. The best sales professionals can quickly discern which method a client prefers by simply listening – and then cater their sales approach so they’re speaking the same language.
Here are the three types of languages and some examples of each.
1. Visual language
As the name suggests, people who communicate with visual language basically paint pictures with their words. If someone states that something isn’t clear or asks to see a key benefit in action, you can essentially assume they’re a visual language speaker.
Some examples of things you might hear from a visual language speaker include:
- I can see the benefit.
- Can you show me how this works?
- I’m having trouble visualizing this.
- Your meaning is unclear to me.
When you have a visual language speaker, you’ll want to make sure you’re mirroring their approach to really get through to them.
So, you might say “Let me show you how our product can increase your bottom line.”
“Can you see yourself using this product to increase your business?”
“It’s clear that implementing this feature will improve order fulfillment rates.”
We can use these kinds of phrasings at every stage of the sales process to make sure we’re connecting with the customer.
2. Auditory language
Next up, we have auditory language – which basically indicates the person speaks and makes sense of the world through sound. If someone says “I hear what you’re telling me,” you can assume they’re an auditory language speaker.
Some additional examples of things an auditory language speaker would say include:
That rings a bell
That sounds good to me
The word from higher up is…
I was told
The same principles for connecting with a visual language speaker apply here – simply cater your presentation to take their preferences into consideration.
3. Action language
The third and final language style is a little more amorphous. We call this group the action language speakers. As the name implies, their verbal cues will often feature words that denote movement or kinetic energy or…well, action.
Some of the cues that will alert you you’re in the presence of an action language speaker include “I’m trying to get a grasp on this” and “we’ve got a handle on the situation”.
Other action language cues could include:
- I needed to lean on management to get this done
- There was a lot of arm-twisting involved
- I’m going to run this up the flagpole
- I’ve only scratched the surface on this topic
- Again, when dealing with an action language speaker, you’ll want to mirror their approach. Pepper in phrases with strong verbs and you’ll be speaking their language.
One final thing: people speak and understand all three of these language types, so it’s not like your customer won’t hear you if you’re not speaking their specific language.
However, most people lean more heavily in one of these three directions – and figuring out which way they lean gives you an in to better communicate with them.
Linguistics is a fascinating field of study. The way we communicate impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Learning how to better harness the power of words and how they can be used to persuade others can give your sales team a real advantage over the competition.
Today, we’ve only scratched the surface of how persuasive selling techniques can help your sales team become more effective. Understanding the concepts of persuasive communication is just the first step on the road to success.
From here, you can dive even deeper into the world of persuasive language to make sure all of you sales pitches, whether verbal or written, are pushing the right buttons in your intended audience.
The best part? Sales enablement software can help you analyze your most effective conversations, allowing you to model success and refine for even better results.
No matter how you slice it, understanding how to persuade your customers to take the actions you want them to take is a key skill for successful sales people. Never underestimate the power of a little sweet talk.
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