In the words of teenagers everywhere, "Don't tell me what to do!"
But it's not just the 13-18 year old crowd that doesn't take kindly to orders. It's everyone. Nobody -- regardless of age -- likes being told what to do. Especially if the person giving direction isn't 100% familiar with the situation.
It only takes an ounce of sense to recognize that "Hey, buy my product!" is not a good sales pitch. However, even the savviest salespeople sometimes sneak in a word that implies an order -- "should."
"Instead of going this route, I think you should ... "
"You should really consider this before making a decision ... "
Even if your recommendations are valid, phrasing them in this way is bound to turn your prospect off. As soon as the word "should" pops into the conversation, their eyes will narrow as they sarcastically think (or perhaps even say), "Oh I should, should I?"
Keep in mind that as much knowledge you have on your offering, the industry, and even the prospect's business issues, you are still an outsider. As opposed to the buyer's boss or colleagues, they're not required to listen to you. And if they feel you expect them to, they probably won't.
Besides angering your buyer, using the words "should" or "shouldn't" could also prompt them to do the exact opposite of what you'd like them to -- that is, buy from you.
"When someone discourages you from doing something, you often feel that your freedom is being threatened, which motivates you to regain choice and control by doing exactly the opposite," Adam Grant writes in this Business Insider article. "Experiments show that children become more interested in a toy after they’re put under severe rather than mild pressure not to play with it, and children and adults become more likely to taste fatty foods when labels explicitly warn against them."
"Should" might just shove prospects into the arms of your competition. Might I make a suggestion (a fantastic substitute for this tricky word)? You shouldn't use "should" in sales.
Verdict: Not recommended.
Originally published Feb 10, 2015 9:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017