Sales Word of the Day: Hope

Emma Brudner
Emma Brudner

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"Hope" is a nice word to use when you have good intentions but little control. For example, New Englanders have been saying "I hope it doesn't snow anymore" after every winter storm for the past few weeks. Their hopes have been dashed, but it was still a happy wish.

When it comes to the weather, "hope" is very appropriate. But in a professional setting? Not as much. "Hope" implies that business results are largely out of your hands and up to chance. And this attitude doesn't inspire confidence in you from colleagues and leadership.

It's especially important for salespeople to abolish "hope" from their vocabularies considering that much of their selling power depends on prospects' faith and trust in them. Why would a buyer partner with someone that they "hope" would get them the outcomes they want? I'll go with the person who can definitely deliver, thanks.

Even in relatively banal phrases like "I hope to hear from you soon" or "Hope you got the information you were looking for," the word can chip away at a rep's credibility.

"Be proactive and confident in your language, and others will trust you and put their confidence in your judgment," Alex Traynor writes for Sales Force Research. "You don't 'hope they'll call you back after thinking about your sales presentation,' you 'look forward to speaking to them again on Wednesday when you follow up.'" 

It's not a certainty that a prospect will buy, but a salesperson should outwardly act as if it is, particularly if they sell complex products with a large price tag. Prospects will naturally be a bit skittish at the idea of writing a big check, and so salespeople should portray confidence and calm -- or risk driving away their buyer. As sales trainer Alan Meyer point outs, "When you tell your client you’re ‘hoping’ for something, you’re not sure, are you? If you’re not sure, then why should they be?"

Hope uplifts and soothes. Too bad it simply doesn't sell.

Verdict: not recommended.

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