Sales Leadership · Sales Management · Sales Training · Solution Selling

Did You Really Mean to Say That? Phrases to Avoid in Sales

So, you know when a sales presentation is going really well, conversation is productive and easy on both sides, lots of sharing of ideas, information and thoughts about moving forward….and them you hear words come out of your mouth that immediately make you want to hit the rewind and rephrase….

Nope, I’m not talking about the time you called the prospect Dad, it’s more subtle than that. So subtle, I guarantee that you don’t even know you’ve said anything that could potentially and negatively register with the prospect.

You might get a clue from the prospect’s eye movement, body language, shifting in their chair – but I am sure 99% of the time you don’t even register it….why would you when you’re in the selling zone.

Here is a quick list of things you need to banish from your sales presentations and prospect interactions:

Yes! – when you mean No

Maybe! – When you mean No

Unconditional guarantee – is it really unconditional? Few circumstances exist in the business world that are entirely ‘unconditional’, if you say it, you need to mean it

No problem or its counterpart, no worries – the back lash from this one can bite…hard

I’m in the area,so I’ll just pop in – here’s a clue, no-one believes you and travelling from Warrington to Glasgow for a pop in is just foolish

Obviously… who? Who is it obvious to?

You people…yes, I’ve heard a very senior professional service provider talking to a room of accountants refer to them as ‘you people’…surprisingly they didn’t get up and leave. Maybe they were all asleep?

I’ll guarantee you the lowest price…you’ve just given your prospect a lot of signals there, and none of them are good. Plus, he knows that you will do the business at any cost…don’t do it to yourself.

Obviously, there is no obligation to buy, this is just a meeting….so you just like sitting drinking tea with random strangers on your patch? You may want to check your job spec, and get your CV up to date and out there with some recruiters….

To be honest… if you have to label it…well you get my drift don’t you. You don’t tell people you are honest. You just are. Or not – as the case may be.

Our product increases profit and reduces cost…sounds ok doesn’t it? I agree. But it doesn’t mean anything because it’s so generic. The best way to use this phrase is ‘Our product increases profit and reduces cost by….’ and then you tell them HOW. If you forget about telling them about ‘HOW’ you miss out on a big selling opportunity.

Don’t tell my Boss I’m doing this deal for you, he’ll kill me…really, do you really need me to explain this one to you? And by the way, don’t forget to take your carpet cleaner and window replacement brochure with you when you leave the prospects office…

Nobody is doing a better deal than I am here today…yes, this is a phrase that should only ever be heard at a country market from the vendor selling strawberries on a hot Saturday afternoon at 4pm…

What I can tell you so you’ll believe me?  Hello? This is a prospect, not your partner. Get a grip

Basically… It’s just wrong, so wrong, it cries exasperation and intolerance, so it may have a place on very rare occasions, just watch the tone

I think you’re making a mistake…Well, part of me applauds you for playing it so direct, you have some gumption for telling a prospect that. For you own safety, sent it to Room 101.

Let me talk to my office and get back to you…Ok, I admit – this is not so bad, and often it’s the only response you can give. Just beware when its a justified response and when you are using it to dodge a conversation you would rather have over email. I’ve seen too many sales people use this as an avoidance technique. Stop it. Just have the conversation.

When can I meet your boss? Yes, there will be times when you need to meet the people in the reporting line – so just saying handle this one with care as it can be misinterpreted, at your cost.

I’ll try to…means nothing. When I hear try I translate to ‘never gonna happen’

So just a few throw away lines you may want to be alert to….I’m sure you can think of many more….

Happy Selling


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