What if I told you that our organization never loses a sale? It’s true. We never do. We also don’t pursue opportunities.
If that seems paradoxical to you, that’s because you and I are not speaking the same language–and there’s a good reason for that.
In this piece, I’m going to show you how you too can stop losing sales forever by changing the way you talk–and why it’s important that you do it.
The Inuit people famously have hundreds of words for “snow” while the English language has only one. The ancient Greeks didn’t have a word for the color blue. Instead, they called the ocean “wine-dark” and worshipped a “grey-eyed” goddess.
For centuries, linguists have debated whether this means that the Inuit were capable of thinking of snow in more nuanced ways than people from more moderate climes and whether the ancients were incapable of perceiving the same range of colors that the modern eye does.
Or do our thoughts and perceptions exist independently, regardless of what words we have to describe them?
Modern research indicates that the truth is somewhere in between these extremes.
“Languages do not limit our ability to perceive the world or to think about the world,” says Antonio Benítez-Burraco, a linguist and biologist at the University of Seville, writing for Psychology Today. “But they focus our perception, attention, and thoughts on specific aspects of the world.”
One way to understand this is to think of your brain as a powerful computer, and language as an important piece of software. You can use your computer to engage in any type of computing (thinking) you want, but the software you’re using may make it harder or easier depending on whether it’s designed for that type of computing (thinking).
If your software isn’t suited to the purpose at hand, you will have to do extra work (coding or plug-ins or workarounds) to make it do what you want. On the other hand, if the right software is already installed, then the tasks you want to complete is easy.
Likewise, if the language you’re using already has nuanced words to describe what you want to describe, it’s much easier to do so. If you’re missing the right words or using words that don’t accurately describe what you want to describe, then you will either have to learn a new language or create linguistic workarounds.
At the same time, the words you’re using act as a filter, just like software can.
For instance, if you’re using a word processor, you will be more inclined to think about a problem in terms of words. If you’re using a spreadsheet, you will be more likely to think about the problem in terms of discrete blocks of data. Generally, you will choose the software best suited to the type of information you’re processing, but regardless of what software you use, it will filter how you think about and interact with that information.
In short, the words we use act as a filter between the world and our thoughts, impacting our perceptions and influencing how we frame and understand the environment, other people, and the events in our lives.
Our words impact our thoughts, and our thoughts impact our actions. And that’s why it’s important to choose them carefully.
Because we understand this principle, we’re very careful about the words we use at Membrain, and about maintaining those words as a shared language. I wrote last week about why we use the words “sales project” in place of “sales opportunity.”
For similar reasons, we don’t talk about “losing” sales. We talk about archiving them.
The word “lose” brings to mind many negative thoughts that we want to direct our attention away from. For instance:
When a sales project has not ended in a sale, it can be demotivating for the sales team, especially if they’re thinking of it in these negative terms.
In reality, a sale that doesn’t close isn’t necessarily gone forever. It doesn’t necessarily mean you messed up. And it doesn’t have to make you poorer than before.
In fact, a sale that doesn’t close can provide substantial value to your sales team if they’re approaching it the right way. The relationships that were built can be maintained and lead to more and bigger sales farther down the road. Any mistakes that were made can be learned from. The experience, if viewed as an opportunity for growth, can make the team richer rather than poorer.
To be more accurate and direct our attention to this more empowering view, we choose the word “archive” to describe a sales project that the team is no longer actively pursuing. Archiving a sales project tells our brains that:
By choosing the word “archive” rather than “lose,” we help to retain motivation on the team, and direct their mental attention to the empowered mindset we want them to inhabit.
We are always examining the way we do sales, from the strategies, processes, and methodologies we enable, to the very words our sales team uses. This is part of our commitment to providing the best sales enablement CRM for complex b2b sales that has ever existed.
I would love to show you how our platform can help your teams close more sales. Contact us for a demonstration.
George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals.
Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn