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March 31, 2023

8 Sales Words to Eliminate from Your Vocabulary

crutch words examples

Using ineffective and poor sales words and phrases can damage your sales conversations. In the modern world, where sales are driven by science, our choice of vocabulary can emotionally connect or disconnect with our buyer’s brain and emotions in different ways.

“Um, basically, would you be interested in a free trial of our market-leading product?”

I feel ill.

Sometimes, using the wrong choice of words can make your prospects think and feel differently about both you and your company with the click of a finger. A slip of the tongue can rapidly change the dynamics of a conversation and sales opportunity.

8 Sales Words to Eliminate from Your Sales Vocabulary

Here are eight examples of sales words and phrases that can have a negative impact on your sales conversations, along with suggested alternatives:

1. Honestly

For too long now, salespeople have built a bad reputation with prospects or buyers about being untrustworthy and only looking out for themselves.

Here’s the ironic thing. Anytime a sales rep says the word “honestly” in their sales conversations, it makes your prospects believe that anything they have previously said (or are about to say) was untrue. The more we try to overcompensate or justify what we are saying by being “honest,” the less credibility we have.

“Honestly” is a sales word you should drop from your sales vocabulary.

Don’t say this: “Honestly, I think we can have you up and running by this time next week.”

Do say this: “From experience, we tend to get customers up and running within a week.”

“Honestly” is a sales word you should drop from your sales vocabulary.

2. Market-Leading

Whenever I hear salespeople label their company as “market-leading” when I’m being sold to, I cringe and scrunch my face up. Whether their company is the highest revenue generator, most established, or most well-known in their space, that ultimately counts for very little in relation to my personal situation.

If your product doesn’t match my specific needs or use case, I couldn’t care less that you made $100 million in revenues last year. If the sales rep doesn’t invest the time asking discovery questions to learn about my specific needs, your product’s latest “awards” count for the square root of nothing. It ain’t gonna make me buy.

Ultimately, each prospect you sell to decides how “market-leading” your product is.

Don’t say this:“People decide to work with us as we are the market-leading product in the CRM space.”

Do say this:“One of the main drivers similar people in your position and organization have decided to work with us is…”

3. Discount

Here’s a strong statement for you. Salespeople who serve up discounts to get deals done in their sales conversations are weak. I’ve often used the phrase, “Discount your price, and you discount your product.” What do I mean by that? Ever wonder why some retailers give HUGE discounts on televisions, but not on others? It’s because they want to get rid of them.

The stockroom is filled with them because nobody else wanted to buy them at their original price. In essence, they feel like the cheap option in all senses of the word. When salespeople offer their prospects “discounts,” they instantly make their products less valuable.

Now, I’m not saying we should NEVER give discounts. Some prospects and customers will always look for the best possible deal or price. But if you are going to give away something, always ask for something in return. Turn your “discounts” into “trade-offs.”

Don’t say this: “In order to make this an easy decision for you Mr. Prospect, I can give you a 20% discount today.”

Do say this: “I’d be happy to look at the price Mr. Prospect, but in return would you feel it’s fair to commit to giving us a testimonial after three months should you feel you’ve had a positive experience working with us?”

Instead of using the sales word “discount,” offer a trade-off.

4. Show You How

I was on the receiving end of a sales demo a couple of weeks back, and it was a painful experience. The sales rep had an incessant desire to keep “showing me how.”

“Let me show you how you access the navigation.”

“Let me show you how to set up a new search term.”

The whole thing felt like a training session. By “showing me” everything, the salesperson had committed the ultimate product demonstration crime. Not making it about me and my situation, and not making it a conversation.

Don’t say this:“Let me show you our product manager’s different account levels and hierarchies step by step.”

Do say this:“You mentioned that managing different account levels was important for you. Would you like me to demonstrate how that looks in our product?”

5. Free Trial

The dreaded ‘F’ word: free.

Legend has it, this very author has written plenty about the pitfalls of dishing out free trials. Much like the word “discount,” “free trial” screams out “de-value.” When people get things for free, they are far less inclined to use them. Without skin in the game, prospects feel far less committed to adopting your product. So, the purpose of running a “free trial,” instantly becomes diluted.

Now, I get it, prospects often ask if they can try before they buy. How you deal with that situation makes all the difference. Rather than free trials, try suggesting “pilots” or “proof of concepts.” Those are almost same thing, but they sound different. They sound like something that will need time and attention, rather than a commodity that they can decide to either look at or ignore. Better still, encourage prospects to pay for these and explain the reasons why. Position them as paid evaluations to give them the confidence of investing more seriously longer term. You’ll be surprised how much success you will have with this approach.

Don’t say this:“How about we get you started on a free trial so you can try us out first?”

Do say this:“What I would recommend is running an initial proof of concept. This is less of a financial commitment for you upfront, but will enable us to prove value and give you the confidence of this being something you want to have in place longer term.”

Eliminate the phrase “free trial” from your sales vocabulary and instead suggest a “pilot” or a “proof of concept.”

6. Cheapest

Salespeople may feel that one of their company’s key differentiators is that they are the cheapest in the market, or at least a cheaper option to a competitor. While that may be true, the word “cheap” lets off a bad stink of poor quality and can automatically resonate poorly with prospects. Potential customers, generally speaking, are looking for the product that offers the most value based on their needs and desires. It’s playing on value that is absolutely keen here when salespeople talk about pricing.

Don’t say this:“People tend to buy from us as we are the cheapest service”

Do say this:“I would say that in our space, we tend to be the most cost-effective for companies of your size”

7. Contract

The word contract sounds heavy and serious, doesn’t it? Like something you are locked into, with no escape. Like a life sentence. It feels like something that is all in favor of the seller and not the buyer.

Buying decisions should be seen as fair and agreeable. A happy seller and a happy buyer, in agreement, that this is a deal that works for both parties.

Don’t say this: “I’ll draw up the specifics of the contract and send this to you for review.”

Do say this:“Let me put together an agreement based on what we have agreed upon, and send this for you to check over.”

8. You Know

You know what phrase really sounds annoying after a while. You know, it’s when people say you know all the time. Because, you know, the more it gets spoken by a salesperson in their sales conversations, you know it starts to get picked up by the prospect. You know.

OK — so I could have chosen many other filler terms here. We all have our own, we all use them, and we should all be doing our very best to say them less. The data shows they don’t really damage our sales success. But they still can be annoying to hear.

Don’t say this:“You know…..”

Do this: *silence*


Learn More:

Download The Complete Guide to Conversation Intelligence to learn how conversation intelligence can improve sales coaching and help sales reps have better sales conversations.

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