Are you losing business because of your choice of words?

Today’s Guest Blogger is Joseph Olewitz .  In addition to being Founder and Principal Consultant at 22nd Story Strategies, Inc., Joseph currently shares experiences derived from years of pitching large professional services deals to major corporate brands on his blog: Intentional Growth. How precise is your business language? When Shelly Sachs of ETI Sales Support asked me to write a guest post, I immediately thought of the lesson I learned from him earlier this year. Even though I always operate as though word choice is critical, in a joint presentation we were making to a client of mine, Shelly pointed out that I had represented a core part of my recommended strategy as promoting the “USP” (Unique Selling Proposition) when it seemed that using “UVP” (Unique Value Proposition) as a title for the same presentation would be more customer-centric and a much better focus on benefits. I have not only used this term with other clients until now, but I also had recently written a blog about using USP to increase revenue.

Mea Culpa: Shelly was right of course and that caused me not only to immediately correct USP to UVP but to realize that I had been using a lot of terms in my vocabulary for a long time and that regular re-examination and consideration of language is imperative. “Sales” in my universe is a powerful and useful term – but not always! In services sales, when talking about the relationship between my offering and my client’s they want to know how I will help them increase sales or revenues. However, their customer wants to know about the “Value” that’s being brought to market and that’s the term that should be used when describing your unique positioning.

I am now regularly reviewing words chosen for business communications with an additional POV perch – that of asking the question: “How powerful and how appropriate is that term in this specific context?” And I think we all need to do that much more often.

Some thoughts:

  • Ask some of your clients to read and comment on existing promotional material – with no sacred cows (include website, one-sheets, signage and more).
  • Have someone who was not involved in the writing review the proposal before it’s sent out.
  • Carefully look at how the client will respond to the pitch language (is it culturally appropriate?)
  • Remember to keep revising as time goes on, things change – and you do, too.

I’m now more attuned to the downfalls of complacency – how about you?

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