Partners in Performance Blog

The 12 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language

persuasive wordsDo you know what the 12 most persuasive words in the English language are? Are you paying enough attention to using persuasive words in your sales communications?

Words are simple things but they carry power that you can leverage in all your communications. You need to be using them in your day to day sales meetings, presentations, emails and voice messages. If you aren’t intentional about your choice of words you are missing out. That can cost you sales!

Last week a client sent me an email that she wanted to send out to her client list and she wanted some feedback on her wording. The first three paragraphs all started with the word “I” and it reminded me of one of the things we have some fun with in our UPFRONT Persuasion Through Presentation workshops.

A Yale research study that reveals The 12 Most Persuasive Words of the English Language is often cited and has been for the last 40 years.  Despite the fact that the study likely never happened we ask our workshop participants to guess the 12 persuasive words even though the source is questionable.

The 12 words are: You, money, save, new, results, health, easy, safety, love, discovery, proven and guarantee. Whether or not the research backs up these words, one thing I know is true. The use of the word ‘you’ in our sales conversations and written communications works to persuade.

Why is that? When we speak and write using the word ‘you’ instead of ‘I’ it keeps our focus of attention on the customer, not ourselves. The words that follow the word ‘you’ will resonate for your customer because it is about them not you.

Include ‘You’ in Benefits Statements

In my training workshops participants learn how to craft persuasion elements to bring their recommendations, products and solutions to life. Every sales person knows that a benefit statement is a key component of their persuasion ‘toolbox’. But knowing and doing are two different things.

I consistently observe people trying to craft benefit statements for their sales presentations. But the problem is they aren’t benefits. At least not in the ears of the customer. What they hear are features and capabilities.

Just because we know the benefits of our recommendations don’t assume the client is magically going to ‘get’ it. It’s our job to explicitly link the feature directly back to the client’s stated needs. Here is where the ‘you’ word comes in. When positioning your capabilities, remember to use phrases like:

  • “What this means to YOU is…”
  • “Why this is important for YOU is…”
  • “One of the things I heard YOU say is…”

Try out one of these phrases the next time you speak with a client. See what happens.

Notice how many times the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ is used in the first two paragraphs of this post? Eleven times. Had I started with the third paragraph which is about me, you might not have been hooked into reading this post.

What are your most loved persuasive words? Share one or two in the comments section below.

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on February 11, 2014 in Persuasion, Presentation Skills, Sales Skills. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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