Oct 20, 2009 at 01:55 PM
written by Jim Loria

One Spoken Word Can Make A Difference

This past week I enjoyed a terrific phone conversation with Butch Bellah, a sports team colleague of mine and current general manager of the arenafootball2 Bossier-Shreveport BattleWings in Louisiana. We both met through Facebook and then reconnected through LinkedIn.

The conversation began with Butch inquiring about my hockey club's first-ever attempt at creating a “Facebook Members” party for an upcoming game. Soon afterwards, the dialogue switched over to sales and learning of one another’s selling philosophies and various techniques. We both agreed that we do exactly the same thing each and every day despite the differences in our sport and levels (pro vs. amateur).

Butch was recalling one of his strategies that he used and how this worked for him more times than not in gaining the all-important "face time" with a client. It came about from omitting the word "Appointment" when asking for the meeting. Why? Because, as Butch was describing, "there are those business leaders that do think the worst when someone is calling on them to get an Appointment". Seriously, put yourself in the chair of the prospect: Some do think of "Appointments" as costly time for them to give up? Some view the scheduling of an "Appointment" as "added cost or an unforseen expense" coming their way? So I said to Butch, how did you ask for your meeting times? He said: "by asking the customer if they can put me on their calendar instead versus making an Appointment!" Do any of us even know what APPOINTMENT means? How the word is actually viewed?

Let's play the old TV Show "Family Feud". Remember Richard Dawson, the show's host? Well, here's your TOP TWO answers found in Wikipedia for the definition of APPOINTMENT: "A time reserved for something such as a doctor visit, much like a reservation. An appointment, in government refers to the assignment of a person by an official to perform a duty, such as a presidential appointment of a judge to a court. For all the year's I've been in sales, the industry members have always - and through today - asked for an “Appointment" as a means to set up a meeting with a customer or business prospect... well, the latter didn’t even surface in the Wikipedia TOP FIVE responses.

Butch and I were also discussing during our conversation about how certain business executives have a hang-up with knowing that a SALESPERSON is calling them and holding on the other line! In today’s world, we all need to shift gears and focus more on becoming a “Relationship Seller!” By building and fostering relationships, the consumation of the "sale" will come more times than not or at the very least, a solid referral will be provided (if asked for). FYI: I just spent some time researching the meaning of the word "SALESMAN” minutes ago and what popped up was an amusing quote from famed movie director/actor Woody Allen in which he once said: “There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?”

While we're on the subject of how one WORD can make a difference. It reminded me of a meeting I enjoyed several years back with Pat Williams, a guru in marketing & promotions (and today the Senior VP of the NBA's Orlando Magic). Pat was shedding light on the legendary Walt Disney and what made his Magic Kingdom truly work! Always ahead of his time, Disney branded certain WORDS that became so engraved in the minds of his Disneyland employees back during its startup period. For example, Park Rides would be known as ATTRACTIONS! Employees would be known as CAST MEMBERS. And, even Disney's creative team members were called IMAGINEERS!

Remember the old adage, "it's not what you say, but how you say it?" You may find roadblocks in your sales path every day and by adjusting a few WORDS here or there can make a world of difference.

Jim Loria has over 30 years of sports management experience and for the past 10 years as served as President of the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede. Jim can be reached at loria@sfstampede.com. Be sure to check out all of Jim's past posts, too. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the publisher, SponsorPitch, LLC.

photo credit via flickr: adotjdotsmith