The Right Thing To Say


We all have our favorite phrases that we use over and over in sales or customer service situations. Those lines that work every time, that make us believable, that make us likable, that make us trustworthy, and above all move the sale forward. Let me share two of my favorites.

My all-time favorite is “good question.” In every sales situation, and especially in situations with the proverbial difficult customer, we encounter either objections or negotiations. Any time a customer objects or asks for anything, complement them by saying “good question.” The operative word is compliment. By saying, “good question,” you have made the person feel good and feel smart that they are asking, and we generally like people who compliment us when the compliment is sincere. I suppose, the response is disarming, but whatever it is, it works. Just be prepared to answer the question and always end your response by thanking them for asking.

What you are really doing is demonstrating your confidence in the product you are selling because you are not afraid of the questions, you know the answers, and you even like the fact that they are asking.

One of my other favorite phrases is specifically used when the customer or client is asking for something that is either beyond what you are willing to give or they are just being unreasonable. In today's world, everyone seems to want it all and is not afraid to ask for it. So the next time a customer makes an unreasonable offer, smile back and say, “I wish we could do that.”

What you're doing is agreeing that it would be nice just to honor the request but you can't. When we step back and think about it, that's the truth. For example, when the customer asks for a 50 percent discount, I really do wish we could give it and still stay in business, but unfortunately, we can't. You are letting the customer know you are on their side, you respect their position, and you're not upset that they asked.

Again, this is a disarming measure, because when a customer or client asks for something that is unreasonable, they are generally expecting a rebuttal or argument. When you agree with them, you have taken them off guard and many times they will agree with you. Just because someone asks for something does not make him or her a good negotiator. Most people who ask for something extra will give up after one or two tries. That's why this tactic or phrase works so well — it simply repels the first assault.

Remember, every objection is a good question, and every time someone asks for more than you are willing to go just tell them that you wish you could. So, if you're wondering why this article only has two killer phrases when there must be more, that's a good question. I wish I could share a few more, but I'm only allotted so much space. But I'm glad you asked that question.

Rick Segel, CSP, is an author and speaker. He blends business topics from sales and marketing to customer service with a side order of humor. Rick is an internationally recognized speaker and is the author of “Retail Business Kit for Dummies” and “Laugh & Get Rich,” and has appeared on more than 100 radio and TV shows. Rick can be reached at [email protected].

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