If you take nothing else from this writing, know this: Words matter. Let’s start with the ones that keep those on sales’ frontlines up at night, shall we?
Lead generation, sales funnels, and quality prospects are all terms B2B companies hungry to scale put up on their leader boards. To sell more means posting high returns in these categories. A great survey on this comes from BrightTALK, in collaboration with the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn. It cites that the top priority for 68 percent of respondents was increasing quality of leads.
A majority by far, it’s easy to see the importance of getting in front of the right people. Think about that language, though: “increasing quality of leads.” Then, stop the music. What if, just for a moment, we shifted the verbiage?
Let’s change “leads” to “believers.”
Do you feel it? Something magical happens. It’s like every day suddenly becomes Friday.
We begin to recognize that sales is much more human than chatbots would like us to think. We see the importance of how we refer to customers referenced in the book “Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing.” Author Paul Jarvis writes that one misstep for businesses (of any size) “is in laying claim to ownership of their audience, using phrases like ‘our audience.’ ”
What if, when a lead or prospect finds you (or you find her), you didn’t just “qualify” them and push them through the sales funnel as much as “start a conversation.” What if you shared your story and ventured to learn about his? If it’s a match, you don’t have a lead, you have a “believer” who suddenly invites you to become part of their story — someone who believes you are “the one” to make a difference in their life.
Keep that relationship going and you create a “lifelong friend,” (you might know this as customer affinity) which is pure nirvana — whether you’re sitting around the table for Sunday pasta or joining the team for a new client pitch.
You see, words change context and context gives what we do meaning.
Much of sales is rooted in psychology, that is, understanding people and motivations. Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein concluded that the world we see is shaped by the words we use. He said: “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language.”
Would your efforts to win hearts be different if you saw people as potential believers rather than mere prospects? Would relationships run deeper? Would results be measurably different?
The words we choose impact how we connect with others. To Wittgenstein’s point, the power of language changes everything.
One way to achieve brand believers might be to shift your language. Question your words, challenge your assumptions and set aside, just for a moment, classic sales terminology.
A final quote by Wittgenstein nudges us forward: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” What would your sales approach look like if you simply changed the words you’ve always used? Quite possibly, it could be limitless.