Sales Word of the Day: Instant

Emma Brudner
Emma Brudner




I can either fix your problem in a month, or I can fix it this instant. Which would you prefer?

It's a no-brainer -- I'm guessing you'll take that solution now. Immediately, if possible. And that's exactly how I'd expect you would answer.

The human brain is wired to favor positive outcomes or rewards that happen sooner rather than later. This cognitive bias is termed "hyperbolic discounting," and it's the reason you can't seem to keep your hands off the chocolate bars in the office kitchen until after lunch. 

With this in mind, words that prompt thoughts of near-term rewards can powerfully sway a buyer's perception. Salespeople who can incorporate words such as "instant" into their pitches (accurately) will likely see their sales rise. 

Skeptical? This phenomenon is firmly rooted in neurological science, according to Copyblogger.

"Several MRI studies have shown just how fired up our mid-brain gets when we envision instant rewards, and how it’s our frontal cortex that’s activated when it comes to waiting for something (that’s a no-no for sales)," Gregory Ciotti writes. "Words like 'instant,' 'immediately,' or even 'fast' are triggers for flipping the switch on that mid-brain activity."

However, there's a noteworthy caveat. Reps shouldn't promise something they can't deliver on, so "instant" should only be used to describe a benefit that's truly immediate. The delight a prospect feels at the potential of an instant reward is nothing compared to the disappointment and anger spurred by an unfulfilled promise.

"In work and in life, it is really important not to promise something you can’t deliver, because at best, it will mar your relationships," Alexandra Levit points out in a Lifehacker article. "At worse, you could lose your job."

Verdict: Recommended, but use caution.

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