When I came to North America from England 30 years ago, I quickly learned to say ‘elevator’ instead of ‘lift’ and ‘sidewalk’ instead of ‘pavement’; but I still sometimes use a British English expression by mistake. I always know when I have, because a curious expression passes over the faces of the listeners. It’s a look which says: “I think I know what she means, but there is something a bit odd about the words she used, and my brain is having to do some gymnastics to understand.”  For example:

British English: “If you are having difficulty getting financing from a high-street bank, you maybe able to get a bespoke solution by approaching a non-traditional lender. However, a bad credit rating may throw a spanner in the works and you have to do a Heath Robinson to solve the problem.”

North American translation: If you are having difficulty getting financing from a retail bank, you may be able to get a custom loan by approaching a non-traditional lender. However, a bad credit-rating may throw a monkey wrench in the works and you have to Macgyver it (put together a rough and ready solution with anything at hand).

Don’t make your customer work like that! Your customer needs language which is:

• Familiar
• Easily understandable
• Resonates with them

Here’s how to use the right words as a selling tool:

Familiar
When you interact with your customers, what words come up repeatedly? Use that vocabulary. Look at and listen for words used in customer feedback, reviews, surveys, telephone conversations, emails, requests for proposals and in meetings. What is the language of your customers? Adjust the wording to your customers and your industry. If you hear or read ‘simple’ or ‘fast’ or ‘expertise’, use those words every time you connect with your customers.

Easily understandable
No one is going to be impressed if you use difficult, obscure words. Your customer might get frustrated and feel belittled or talked down to. For example: don’t say ‘copious reports’ say ‘many reports’. If in doubt, use the simpler word.

Resonates with them
This is the important one. If you can use my language, the words which I am thinking, you will have a short-cut to my heart, and the sale. If you are struggling with IT issues in your small business and you are thinking: ‘I need a quick, easy, inexpensive solution to this problem’, which of these 2 marketing pieces is going to work for you?

a) XYZ IT Solutions Inc. will do a thorough analysis of your systems and send you a full report and quotation within 10 business days. Our experienced technicians will ensure your IT system suits your business perfectly.

b) Is your business growing faster than your IT systems? Need a quick, easy, inexpensive solution? Contact XYZ Total IT Ltd. NOW for an on-the-spot quote and see how our IT expertise can support your business success.

I would go for (b), how about you? Look at and listen to your customer emails, conversations, questions and ask yourself whether the words you use when communicating with your customers are familiar, understandable and resonate.

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