Why You Should Use Words That Sell


Our friends in digital media have been much more effective at harnessing the power of words than we have.

While our statistics were expressed in ratings or demographics, they introduced “big data,” making our mere ratings seem pitifully small. While we sold video commercials viewed on a screen (something used to screen things out and keep the bugs away), they introduced a “window” through which we could view the world.

While we merely “reach” people, our digital friends claim to “engage” them. Can you see the difference? I learned very early in my career that simply reaching an audience did not necessarily mean you influenced that audience. “Engaging” people just seems like such an endearing term compared to merely “reaching” them.

While we only had audiences, they claimed to have “followers.” The dictionary defines followers as “devotees or admirers of another person or a group.”

And my favorite: “rich media.” Looking up the definition of rich media, I found it is “a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to engage with the content.” Who ever thought that features like audio would be described as “advanced”?

You might think you have a myriad of sales tools available at your fingertips today, but in the end, all of those tools resort to the use of words — from PowerPoint to ratings, and from advertising to presenting, it’s the effective and sometimes subtle use of words that ultimately makes the sale.

Yet those of us in traditional communications are surprisingly ineffective at using the most relevant words when attempting to persuade, convince, or sell.

At Ens Media, we critique hundreds of sales presentations every month to help our clients create more effective presentations, and we still see the careless or lazy use of words in most of those presentations.

For example, few of your clients delight at incurring “costs,” and most resist paying a “price,” yet we see those terms in presentations. The best presentations position your rates as an investment, not a cost. Most entrepreneurs like to invest, while most are trying to reduce costs.

We still see presentations trying to sell “spots.” A spot is something that has no perceived value, and in fact, we send our clothes to the cleaners to remove spots. There is much more perceived value in selling messages, commercials, or announcements than in spots.

And we still see way too much use of “we” or “I” in presentations versus “you” or “your.” It’s much more effective to say, “Your campaign will reach 100,000 of your prospects,” than to say, “We reach 100,000 listeners.” One of the clues in effective use of language is to pay careful attention to the language your customer uses when you conduct your customer needs analysis, or CNA. For example, I doubt your furniture store owners care whether the prospects entering their store are listeners, viewers, readers, or followers. They want to talk to buyers.

And that dentist you are calling on doesn’t bill listeners or customers; he bills patients.

Here is the bottom line. It takes a lot of work and effort to uncover a prospect who will sit still for a CAN and presentation. In fact, no one agrees to hear your presentation if they have no interest at all.

You know that sales is a numbers game. The most professional account executives don’t only work hard at capturing more appointments and making more presentations, they work hard at maximizing their closing ratios from each presentation.

Therefore, on those rare and hard-fought occasions when you do have the opportunity to make a presentation, does it really make any sense to simply dust off the same tired presentation you made to another prospect, change the name of the client, and hope it resonates with your prospect? Or does it make more sense to create a customer-focused presentation with an insightful situation analysis and the considered use of more effective language?

The most powerful sales tool you have is the effective use of the words you choose for each presentation.


  1. I suspect Wayne might also be interested in having influence with the local creative departments – those poor folks who are so restricted in their work and pinned down by the radio culture.
    It would be valuable that a sales person have produced creative available that is listenable, compelling and as equally engaging as a well-crafted sales presentation.


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