Change your words to change your results

Be careful what you say out loud. Sales teams are being demotivated to due to their own internal language mistakes.

Change your words to change your results.

Often, I see sales teams, entrepreneurs and even executives setting themselves up for repeated failure by adopting the wrong language inside their businesses. Yet, it’s not only a very easy fix, it often makes an enormous difference to the team’s results.

Training sales teams to improve their skills and confidence so they can reach out to prospects is something I really enjoy doing for my clients. However, there are times I feel like pulling out, my increasingly thinning, hair. These self-sabotaging language situations are a sales leader’s worse nightmare.

The two stand out examples, of demotivating internal language, I come across is COLD CALLING and SPAM. These two words, not only strike fear into grown-up reps. They cost businesses significantly in both lost revenue and in heavily reduced sales productivity.

When I start a prospecting training program, reps usually tell me a version of the following. ‘Any outbound call, where the receiver is not expecting the call, is classified as a COLD CALL’.

It’s simply not.

This is the misclassification of a cold call. If your team shares this misclassification and you fail to call it out and challenge it, the activity level around outbound calling in your business plummets to nearly zero. No one wants to make a cold call, and I get it.

The simplest answer is to make sure your outbound calls are NOT being labelled as ‘cold’ when they are not.

Some examples.

I’ve had sales reps tell me that calling accounts, who have been active for years but have very recently stopped buying, are called cold calls. These are not cold calls they are account management calls, maybe they could be called account reactivation calls.

Considering the above, it’s no surprise which activity in this particular business was thought of as the least desirable and the hardest job to do. If you call them COLD CALLS, no one will do them. If we correctly classify them as something else, reps are more likely to do them. Is your team guilty of this type of misclassification somewhere in your business?

And I hear a similar thing concerning SPAM. “I don’t want to SPAM people,” Reps repeatedly tell me when I ask them to reach out to prospects via email or via social.

In my mind, if you’re sending a personalised, customised, specific outreach to help someone with a real-world business challenge, it’s an opportunity, not SPAM. If it’s being received as spam, then there is a high-likelihood your message is structured incorrectly.

If I happen to win $20Mill on Tattslotto, when they call me up to tell me I’ve won is it a cold call? Is it unwanted? Is it interrupting? I think I’d be pleased to receive that ‘unplanned’ call. Would you?

Not one of my clients is currently making genuine cold calls. There is nearly always a trigger event that makes the call somewhat ‘warm’. Make sure your internal classification for these calls is correct.

I find this attitude to be very prevalent in tech, fin-services & software vendors. Of course, they’re not the only ones that make this mistake. In some cases, it seems that the higher educated that the sales team are. The more they are challenged by this.

I’m merely advocating for the right to reach out on various mediums without it being presented as something it’s not.

If your team are guilty of this ‘language’ in your business, fight it with vigour, challenge it. Because, while I understand no one today wants to SPAM or to make COLD CALLS. Every rep wants to make a valuable account management call or to email a recent client with some new relevant information. Make sure your team (or you) aren’t using false labels and creating unwanted and unwarranted limiting beliefs on yourselves.

Change your words to change your results

To challenge this behaviour, have a good discussion around how those clients perceive your calls. Then highlight the clients who your team know got great value from being ‘interrupted’ and now love your service or products. Bust those myths open in a team environment to make sure the language is banished, and that the attitudes are changed.

SalesITV’s Performance Model – Below

Challenge the reps beliefs, then reframe their expectations, prime for a positive emotional state, which in turn drives better sales behaviours and they will experience higher levels of success which reinforces their new beliefs.

Change your words to change your results.

I’m not suggesting the return to the bad-old-days. However, I am against the incorrect allocation of catchphrases to all activity and then slapping a fence around that activity.

Of course, there are some particular rules for certain sectors of reps out there. Specific segments of Fin-services have increased regulation to abide by due to the royal commission, and other rules may apply to some other sectors.

Below are the links to the ACMA (Australian Communication and Media Authority) relevant acts to help you with compliance.


Australian SPAM Act.

ACMA Don’t call register – Call guidelines

Royal Commission findings

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