The 2 Biggest Problems With Your Sales Communication

There are two of huge problems with sales communication techniques — they make you look weak, and like every other seller out there.

If you’ve ever written or spoken the words, “I just wanted to …” stop. If you’ve ever sent emails to clients pushing on pain points, stop that, too (because that’s exactly what your competition is doing).

These are two of the biggest problems with sales communication techniques — they make you look weak, and like every other seller out there.

Here’s how to understand if your mentality and pain-point-pushing are, in fact, causing you to start fewer conversations than you deserve. If so, we’ll get you on track with stronger written and voice-based digital messages.

Stop ‘Wanting To’

Subconsciously you may be on the defensive. We all are. In life and with our work. Defensiveness and uncertainty are part of the human experience. But it can destroy your ability to communicate effectively.

Case in point, “I just wanted to …”

Author and sales trainer, Jeb Blount, recently said, “You’re saying it on the phone, you’re saying it in emails and InMails, you’re saying it in person … ‘I just wanted to check-in’ … ‘I just wanted to set an appointment’ … ‘I just wanted to grab a few minutes of your time’ … ‘I just wanted to stop by’ … I just wanted to reach out.”

“Just wanted to” is poor grammar. I’ve taken heat from my students on this for a long time. But I feel empowered by Jeb to stand firm. Stop it.

Yes, we should strive to write as we speak. But when we speak weakly, we are average. And average in sales isn’t effective. Especially in digital communications — like voicemail and email.

“‘Just wanted to’ is yesterday … it is passive and weak. It makes you sound insecure,” says Blount.

Perhaps because you are insecure.

The cure? Well, be confident. But also shift to active tense. Take an active stance. Be confident. Don’t sound average!

“Say, ‘I want to.’ Say ‘I am.’ Be active. Be confident,” says Blount. “Because confidence transfers to your prospect. Stop saying, ‘I just wanted to.’ Just stop it.”

Are You Needy?

We all need. To need is human. But needing a reply, a conversation or a closed sale can set you up for communications failure. Just like when we date to find that perfect life partner: The more you communicate, subtly, you really need that second date, the less often you get it.

The more persuasive your tone (during the first date) the less you attract. Because persuading inherently puts you on the defense. It assumes you must convince. Instead, what if you confidently provoked your prospect to convince him/herself? Slowly.

Bottom line: A more confident mental attitude drives more productive behavior. Because confidence attracts, in personal and professional life. Word choice is everything.

“When I stop being needy, I can focus on my reader’s needs — like being respectfully short, factual, interesting … and ending with an implied choice,” says copywriter David Morrison.

“I think of this instruction as a prescription, and I think effective cold email is also a prescription for the reader: declarative, unambiguous, single action,” says Morrison.

Indeed, a cold call or email should be strong in tone. However, to be effective it should not be forceful. Instead, the message’s tone must be openly at peace with rejection.

“Doctor’s don’t beg. They tell you what to do and leave it up to you to follow instructions — and if you want to fix your pain/problem, you decide to take action. No one can persuade you or motivate you to do something. That desire comes from inside.”

Is what you sell prescriptive? Then David’s metaphor works.

Why ‘Pain Points’ Are Such a Pain

Marketers and sellers instinctively push on pain points. If a customer has a pain, tell them you can relieve it. But everyone is pushing information that touches on pains. If you want to blend in with the scenery, pushing on pains is an excellent way to get ignored/deleted.

Also, you cannot start near-term conversations with clients who don’t (yet) realize they have pain. Yet, sellers continue to turn to marketing prose for language that pushes on pains.

Transparency vs. TMI: Know the Difference

Marketers are constantly reminded to be transparent. And I wholeheartedly agree. But there’s also a line you must remember not to cross as a marketer.

Princess Bride Transparency memeMarketers are constantly reminded to be transparent — see for yourself. Google the phrase “marketers need to be transparent” and you’ll see more than 600,000 results ranging from “Why Transparency Is The New Marketing” to “5 Brands That Employed Transparency in Marketing — and Won.”

And I wholeheartedly agree. But there’s also a line you must remember not to cross as a marketer. And that line is from transparency to TMI … too much information.

Late last week, my friend Rachel, who works for a New York nonprofit, sent me an email she received from a marketing services company. She thought the subject line was interesting, but once opened, found the message to be wordy, overly personal and meandering. She wanted my “professional” take on it.

I read through it, but said that without seeing other emails from this company, I couldn’t tell if that was just the company’s voice, or if somebody was allowed to send something without further, and necessary, review. So Rachel sent me a few more emails. And this email, with the subject line, “I could use your help” stopped me in my tracks.

Help email
Note: I’ve blurred out the From line and the Rachel’s email address.

The image above shows the first two-thirds of the email, which is enough for this purpose. The first two paragraphs are the most problematic:

I’m reaching out to you today to ask for your help. I’m going to be honest even though this is hard to say out loud – but we had two pretty big projects fall through at the last minute this month. Two projects that we had cleared our pipeline to handle, and even hired new staff to support. Unfortunately, those clients had other concerns that they needed to attend – for completely understandable reasons, but that leaves us with a bunch of empty space right now that we need to fill with new work.

So we’re asking you to think of anyone you may know who might be interested in hiring us to help them get the marketing results they want.

Look, I get it. This kind of thing has happened to everyone. Projects fall through and it’s disappointing, frustrating and financially scary. No one wants business to slip through their fingers, especially if it seems to have happened despite your best efforts.

But you don’t email, seemingly, your entire subscriber base, asking for referrals. Because I seriously doubt the majority of this marketer’s email subscribers have done business with them previously, and it’s weird asking strangers for referrals.

I found this messaging tactic to be so strange that I emailed some of Target Marketing’s good friends for feedback (maybe I was missing something that was actually genius?).

Carolyn Goodman, one of our bloggers and president/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners, got back to me right away, and I found her take on the email to be very interesting.