Do you know what it is? It’s a common word you use every day, probably without giving it much thought. But when you’re marketing, networking or selling, it’s the most powerful word you can use.

No, it’s not “free.” (Although that runs a close second.) It isn’t “results” or “save.” It’s not “quality,” “benefits” or “guaranteed,” valuable words all. 

No, the single most important sales and marketing word in the English language is “you.”

Think about it. Aren’t you your favorite subject? Aren’t you the most important person to you? And don’t you buy things you want and need for your reasons, when and how you choose to buy them? Well, your prospects and customers think exactly the same way.

Which means, if you want to increase your sales, you need to start using the word “you” more. Here’s how to use this most valuable word to enrich your business communication.

When you create marketing materials (brochures, flyers, direct mail letters, web sites, etc.) focus on the needs of your prospects. Don’t dwell on the history of your company, the process your product undergoes or your commitment to excellence. None of that means anything to your potential customers. They don’t know anything about your industry and frankly, they don’t care.

To be effective, your marketing materials need to identify their problems and show how you can solve them. Your materials should speak directly to your prospects and use their language. The more often the words “you” and “your” appear in your marketing messages, the stronger your response will be.

Shoot for a 2-1 ratio of second-person pronouns (you, your) to first-person pronouns (I, me, my, we, us, our) in your copy. 3-1 or even 4-1 is better still.

The goal of networking is simply to meet people and get to know them. So when talking to someone in a networking situation, whether at a business mixer, a trade show or a cocktail party, keep the conversation focused on the other person.

Ask questions like:
    • “What do you do?” 
    • “How do you do that?”
    • “What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?”
    • “What’s your biggest challenge?
    • “What brings you here?”
    • “Tell me about yourself?”
    • “What do you read to keep up?”
    • “How did you get started?
    • “Where else do you go to network?”

Notice there’s a “you” in every question. When you ask questions like these, not only do you get valuable information, it makes the other person feel important, appreciated and understood, which builds rapport and trust.

We’ve all been taught to sell features and benefits. The trouble is, people don’t buy based on features and benefits. People buy what best fits their wants and needs. 

Which means you need to ask your prospect what their wants and needs are. You also need to ask about their concerns, fears, hopes, past experiences, priorities, budget, time frame, preferences, alternatives and more. That way, you can focus your sales presentation not on your product or service, but on your prospect.

Rather than drone on and on about your product or service, explain how it addresses their specific problems, criteria and desired results, using “you” and “your” frequently. If it doesn’t relate to your prospect’s issues, don’t discuss it. (You’ll save time and ensure you keep their attention.)

When you make your sales presentations prospect-focused instead of product-focused, they will resonate better with your prospects and your sales will jump as a result.