Products & Services Transaction Conversation in Business English

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Transactions are important for most businesses, and the ability to discuss them is a valuable professional skill. In this lesson students will learn how to use business English to have conversations about product and service transactions.

Buying and Selling

One of the primary reasons businesses exist is to provide products and services to consumers. If you work in a business, you may need to discuss buying and selling products and services in business English. When talking with clients or suppliers about such a business transaction, clear communication in business English can help you avoid confusion and misunderstandings about transaction elements, such as prices and delivery dates. If everything is clearly communicated when a transaction agreement is made, there's less chance there will be problems later on.

As you read the following scenario, notice how price and delivery-related vocabulary are used.

Scenario

Tomi and Kelly are discussing the details of an office furniture purchase.

  • Tomi: We need ten office chairs and five desks delivered by the 25th of this month.
  • Kelly: As I mentioned in my email, the total price will be $5,000.
  • Tomi: We've been buying office furniture from your company for a long time. Can't you give us more of a discount?
  • Kelly: Well, I can give you a 2 percent discount if I can delay delivery until the 15th of next month.
  • Tomi: I'm afraid I can't accept that. I need the chairs and desks by the first of next month at the very latest.
  • Kelly: Then I'm afraid I can't lower the price. However, if you want to add a few more chairs or desks to your order, I may be able to give you a small discount and guarantee delivery by the 25th.
  • Tomi: I'll check with my manager and get back to you.

Notice how Tomi and Kelly went back and forth to determine both the price and delivery date? When Tomi made an offer, Kelly made a counteroffer. Another term to describe this type of back and forth conversation is negotiating. Negotiating can sometimes be an important part of both making an offer and accepting an agreement. If you are good at negotiating a transaction using business English, your chances of success can increase greatly.

Vocabulary

Offers and agreements, even if they are in writing, often need to be discussed between two companies or organizations. If you find yourself in one of these discussions, it can be helpful to know these business English terms.

  • Contract - a document that details an agreement between two or more parties
    • We'll sign the contract on Monday.
  • Due date - the date on which payment is due
    • If we don't pay for the products by the due date, there will be a 10 percent penalty.
  • Deal - an informal expression for an agreement
    • My manager has authorized me to make a deal, no matter what.
  • Supplier - the company providing products or services to a buyer
    • Our old supplier went out of business, so we need to find a new one.
  • Buyer - the company buying products or services from a supplier
    • We need to get at least three new buyers for our new product.

You can practice these and other terms by applying them to different situations you encounter in your work.

Guidelines for Discussing Products and Services

When you are involved in a business conversation about buying or selling a product or service, it's important to keep these guidelines in mind.

Represent Your Company

When you discuss products and services during a transaction, you'll need to be able to make comparisons, give opinions and express preferences. Regardless of the language you use, it's very important to accurately represent the interests of your company or organization. When you are speaking to a client or vendor on behalf of your company, be sure you are giving your company's viewpoint and not your own personal viewpoint.

Be Flexible

It's important to be flexible when you communicate about transactions because no two transactions are exactly the same. Try practicing the following useful transaction phrases and make sure to adjust the phrases to meet your needs.

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