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Avoid Industry Jargon in Your Sales Presentation

Published on February 3, 2015

Editor’s Note: We’re all guilty of it – using industry terms with our peers until it becomes part of our vocabulary. For those in a sales seat, the words we use with prospective buyers are especially important to advance a sale. Here’s a refresher from industry sales training expert, Terry Weaver.

As a sales professional the most powerful tool you have at your disposal is the proper use of words, yet all across the country I find real estate people using the worst industry jargon to describe the products they are trying to sell. Let’s look at a few examples.

Unit. How many times have you heard a home or condominium referred to as a unit? What is a unit, anyway? It creates no positive emotional feelings, does it? Psychological studies have shown that the number two word for creating emotion is the word home. (Mother is number one.)

I don’t imagine you got excited years ago when your parents told you, “Kids, were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s unit for Christmas.”

Lot. What is the image of a lot? A vacant piece of land in the middle of a city with broken glass and rusted cans. It’s where we park our cars. It’s not quite what our prospects want, is it? They want a homesite. It paints the proper picture.

Deal. We don’t put together a “deal.” We don’t want to cheapen our offer. It’s a transaction. Or a chance to take advantage of an opportunity.

Price. We tend to tell people about the “price” of our product. Price indicates cost, an expense, or something that we are giving up, such as “paying the price.” We shouldn’t use words that imply loss.

Instead, we should use a word that is attractive to people, like the word value. After all, that’s what people want to buy, isn’t it?

Project. Unless you are selling government housing, l hardly think that you are selling a project. Yet how often do we refer to it as that? People don’t want to live in a project, they want to be in a community. They don’t want to be in a development or a subdivision. Speak in terms of what they’re trying to create. They want to be in a neighborhood. Can you see the late Mr. Rogers starting his show by saying, “It’s a beautiful day in the project”?

Guard gate. People want to feel secure, so why not paint that picture? Let’s call it a security gate, or checkpoint, or a filter that keeps those out who are not supposed to be in. It’s the same with the person who works the gate. He or she is best called a security officer, rather than security guard, unless you happen to be selling at a prison.

Restrictive covenants. Real estate purchasers are independent in their thinking, and the last thing they want to be is restricted. What they do want is to be protected. They want their future values protected; therefore, we have protective covenants.

Decision. Most people hate to make them. Can you imagine walking up to Baskin & Robbins and seeing a sign that reads: “31 Decisions”? People rather have choices.

Spec house. I don’t know of any owner whose chest swells with pride when receiving a compliment from their first guest in a new home and says, “Yeah, it was a spec.”

“Spec” sounds like leftovers from a fly! People are, however, proud owners of a model, a showcase home, or a builder’s featured home (featuring the quality of construction).

Honest / Level With You. There are phrases to avoid entirely, such as the following responses to a prospects question: “That’s a good question. Let me be honest with you,” or, “May I really level with you?”

What thoughts go through the prospects mind on hearing one of these? Perhaps, “Funny, I thought he had been leveling with me the last three hours.” Why plant those seeds of doubt?

Sell / sold. When working with a prospective buyer, we should never use the words “sell” or “sold.” It’s a basic premise about human nature: People hate to be sold. But they love to buy. In fact, any overt attempt to sell will simply create a resistance to buy. Instead they boughtselected, got involvedpurchased.

Salesperson / Sales Agent. When the receptionist refers to you, she should do so by your name, not as a “salesperson” or a “sales agent.”

About Terry Weaver: Terry Weaver is founder and President of Marketing & Sales Institute, Inc, which provides guidance and resources to developers, managers, and sales executives of luxury communities.

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