Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the June 2023 print issue of PCT under the headline "How to Kill a Sales Opportunity."
Over the years in my career, there is one word that has always made me crazy. Why do we use it, and where did it come from? There isn’t a new client’s office I visit that doesn’t use this word without me cringing and asking, “Why are you using that word?”
The word is “bid.”
I can write it, but I will not say it, because it makes me crazy.
If you listen in your office, you likely will hear things like:
I always tell my clients that the word bid is the most sales-stalling word they can use while presenting options to a customer. Not only does it suggest that your product may not be the best, but it is contagious, and it ends up being used all the time.
Stop the nonsense!
What does bid mean? Let’s start with the dictionary definition:
Now, words have definitions, but they also have certain connotations. I like to remind my clients that when they say “bid,” it makes their customer think one or more of these following thoughts:
Get my drift?
More on that last point: bid in the business world — and in many of your clients’ workplaces — means “get three.” In the commodity industry, if you are selling a big-ticket item, your clients will research before they purchase. Many of them will get three or more estimates. While they may make a final decision based on needs and performance, they are still getting three different prices (or bids) first.
This isn’t necessarily the case in the service industry. Think about it: how many potential residential customers call in and ask for a “bid?” Probably none, and if they do, it is likely because a frugal landlord required them to while they search for the cheapest service.
Now, if you say the word “bid” in front of a customer, it will remind them of the commodity industry connotation, potentially making them want to shop around before committing to your service. Just by using this three-letter word, you’ve put your sale at risk.
How did we get to using “bid” in the first place? It may simply be a part the culture of your company, and so your employees have just always said, talked about or presented your product or services as a “bid.”
Luckily, it is easy to end this culture now.
First, my advice is to stop using that word. Erase it from your vocabulary and the printed documents that you use daily.
Next, incorporate these alternative words into your vocabulary and printed documents instead:
There are many options. I urge you to be creative in ending the use of that sale- stalling word in your office and while presenting your product or service.
Ending the use of words like this is part of your broader mission to improve how you communicate with potential clients. Effective communication is a critical part of your ability to close your objective and secure more commissionable income.