In sales, there are words you absolutely should use to seal the deal, but there are also words to avoid if you want to close a sale.
Many of these words to avoid are common expressions and many are words that people use in their everyday vocabulary. The first step to using language that will help you to turn more prospects into clients is to become aware of these words that could be harmful to your sales. Here are 27 words to avoid if you want to excel at sales and close deal after deal.
Watch this video about 27 words to avoid in sales.
To Be Honest With You (words 1-5)
These first five words to avoid are so common that some people say them out of habit. They say, “To be honest with you” as a way to emphasize how truthful they’re trying to be. For example, “To be honest with you, this is the best price,” or “To be honest with you, we never give these deals to anyone else.” But what’s your reaction when you hear these words?
Could they be lying when they say “to be honest”? People use this phrase to emphasize that they are going to be straightforward and blunt, and their words might not be what you want to hear. For example, “To be honest, I don’t think that’s what you should do.”
But in sales, saying “to be honest” is like telling the prospect that the entire conversation to that point was a lie.
If you’ve been honest with your prospect the whole time, why do you need to point it out now? If you are always honest with your prospect, there is no need to suddenly point out that you are honest. These filler words are as useless as “um.” Cut them from your vocabulary right now if you want to be credible.
For the same reason, remove “to be frank” from your vocabulary also. If you want people to think you are being honest, don’t draw attention to it. If you are frank, if people can trust you, show it with action.
Trust (Me) (word 6)
Trust is such a powerful concept in business, but “trust me” are words to avoid if your goal is to create clients. You might think that you’re building a relationship with your prospect when you say, “Just trust me, this is a great deal.”
But depending on your tone, you could sound like you’re hiding something. Those words imply that you’re being dishonest because “trust me” are words people say when they don’t have proof or they’re working very hard to convince someone that they are telling the truth.
These words sound salesy. How would you react if someone said to you, “Trust me, this works”?Those words sound like you’re trying hard to sell them something, and you can’t tell them the truth. Would a prospect trust you if they thought you had something to hide? Of course not. Who buys from someone who appears evasive?
I’ve noticed in movies that people say, “you have to trust me” when they are facing a dangerous situation. In the movie, the Terminator tells the people he is protecting, “Trust me.” When you watch the movie for the first time, it’s difficult to tell if he really can be trusted or he has a trick up his sleeve.
Your actions will speak louder than your words. If you want your prospects to have confidence in you, prove it to them over time. Show them you’re trustworthy, don’t tell them. You can’t passive-aggressively make someone trust you.
Sorry To Bother You (words 7-10)
If you don’t want to sound apologetic, “Sorry to bother you” are definitely words to avoid. If you’re feeling sorry then don’t bother your prospect in the first place! This phrase can be annoying because if your prospect didn’t think you were bothering them before, they will when you apologize.
But if you have a good reason to call someone, you don’t have to be sorry. If you’re calling to sell something that you believe in, you should have confidence and authority, and here’s why.
When it comes to closing and sales, usually the prospect has the power. The closer – the sales person – doesn’t have the power. In order to be more effective as a closer, you want to turn the tables.
In a sales call, one party has a higher status than the other. If you start off by apologizing before giving solutions or seeing how you can help your prospect, you’re already at a disadvantage.
There’s no need to apologize for what you bring to the table or what you sell. If you believe in what you do, don’t say you’re sorry. Your time is just as valuable as the prospect’s.
People buy from you because your product will help to solve a problem. Just because you’re selling something doesn’t mean your time is less valuable. You are only interrupting if you have nothing to offer or didn’t do your due diligence before making the call. Following up is one example of due diligence.
Just Following Up (words 11-13)
People don’t like to be chased, so “just following up” are words to avoid if you want to increase your chances of closing a sale. As a salesperson, you may have been guilty of starting a conversation with: “Sir, I’m just following up…” It doesn’t matter what you say after that. The expression has been a salesperson favorite for so long that it triggers a strong response when people answer a call.
Prospects think you are trying to sell them something. They automatically think that last time you didn’t close them or sell them so now you’re following up and trying to sell them again. They don’t have time for this, so they want to hang up.
Do your research and have a reason for calling the prospect. Don’t say you’re following up as a way to start a conversation. The prospect doesn’t want to be chased again and again until they consent to purchasing something from you.
What is the specific reason that you’re calling the prospect? Did they show interest in your product or service the last time you spoke? Did they sign up for something or book a call? If those are the reasons, lead with why the prospect would benefit from speaking with you.
If you start with “just following up,” prospects will assume they said “no” last time and you’re not giving up until they make a purchase, even if means buying something they don’t need.
Now the next word is so common, few would think it could be harmful.
Buy (word 14)
“Buy” is another word that triggers a strong reaction, so it’s one of the many words to avoid in sales. People love to buy but they hate to be sold.
The word “buy” means something will cost you money. It sets off waves of tension. Prospects know that when you buy something, you have to spend money on it. They cringe at the word.
Instead, say “own” or “take this home with you.” How do you feel when I present you with a beautiful gold lion and ask, “Would you like to take this home with you?” The answer, of course, is “Sure!” Aren’t you excited about getting a wealth trigger?
Other expressions that generate that same level of interest are “Would you like to take advantage of this?” and “Would you like to move forward?”
Who doesn’t want to move forward or take advantage of a great offer?
“Buy” triggers resistance and fear. Imagine a car salesman asking you, “Would you like to buy this expensive luxury car?” No! Of course not. You don’t want to spend money!
How about if he asks, “Would you like to lease this car and make monthly payments?” Your answer is No again. You don’t want to make monthly payments.
But what if he says, “Would you like to take this car home with you?” You’re looking at the car you’re dreaming of driving. You’re picturing it parked outside of your home. Of course your answer will be, “Sure!” And the salesman will say, “Here is the key.”
It’s smooth and simple. Your choice of words can make all the difference in closing a deal.
Contract (word 15)
One of the words to avoid is “contract” if you want to close a deal. It’s a serious word that people associate with legal matters, formalities, lawyers, and signing their life away.
When it comes to signing a contract, that moment is formal and people are careful about making a decision that is enforceable by law. It’s a reminder that they need to read each word carefully because from that time forward, after they sign on the dotted line, there is no going back.
Instead, say “agreement” because it is less formal and less intimidating. Two parties are agreeing to move forward because they want to do business together. It sounds more like an arrangement that you and the prospect mutually arrived at together.
You can also say, “How about we get this paperwork out of the way?” It is casual and a more general term that people use to talk about routine, everyday things at their job or at home, like paying bills or updating work schedules. It’s common for people to say, “I’ve got to catch up on some paperwork.”
So instead of signing the “contract”, use casual words like “agreement” or “paperwork”. Focus on what’s important, which is getting something signed, not using heavy words to seal the deal.
I Haven’t Heard Back From You (words 16-21)
The phrase “I haven’t heard back from you” can flow out of your mouth with ease, but these are six words you should avoid. When you say those words to a prospect, they know why you haven’t heard back from them!
They don’t want to hear from you. They don’t want to contact you. They weren’t going to call you back, or they would have done that already. Why say something they know? Just think of the last time you threw something away because you wanted it out of your life forever… and then a month later, you find it waiting for you outside your front door. Would you be happy to see it again?
“I haven’t heard back from you” are words that automatically create resistance between you and the prospect if you start a phone call that way. Don’t make them feel guilty or embarrass them. Instead, add value.
When you do a touch point, always offer something. Provide them with new information about your product or service, for example. Don’t sell them or push them to make a decision the next time you call. When you stay in touch and add value, the prospect is more likely to do business with you when the time is right for them.
Individual (word 22)
Personal relationships are important when closing deals, so “individual” is one of the words you want to avoid if you want to build relationships. “Individual” sounds cold and institutional. Don’t say, “I know you’re a busy individual,” or “I know you’re a successful individual.”
The word “individual” is often used with more formal situations, such as “The records showed 24 individuals were involved in the project with the city.” It’s not something you would say in everyday conversation.
You also don’t talk to your friends or spouse that way. You don’t say, “Hey honey, you’re a wonderful individual. Marrying you was the best decision I ever made.” Or, “You four individuals have been my close friends since elementary school.”
Instead, use casual conversational words such as people, business partner, friend, associate, or client. If you can, be more specific and use the prospect’s name. You think of them as important people in your life, so use words that make them feel that way.
Finally, build up relationships and trust by respecting not only your prospect, but your competitors as well.
We Are Better Than [competitor] (words 23-27)
Never put down your competitors, and criticisms about them are words to avoid. Even if there’s irrefutable proof that you’re better, you don’t want to say it. Your prospect is thinking you’re putting down the competitor because you want the sale.
You want your prospects to come to their own conclusion – without using persuasion tactics – that you’re better so they choose your service or product. Instead, praise the competitor. You don’t have to criticize them. You can say that your competitor is good. Why doesn’t the prospect go with them? Why are they on the call with you? There is a reason the prospect is on the phone with you, even up to this point.
It means they haven’t made the decision; otherwise, they would have gone with your competitor already. Your prospect is still thinking. If you ask why they are calling you, you’re getting them to justify why you would be the better choice. They are coming to their own conclusions.
You just need to demonstrate that you understand and can solve their problems better than your competitors. Ask them questions about their situation and what they’ve done about the problem so far. How much longer are they going to put up with the problem before they do something about it?
You don’t need to tell the prospect that you’re better. By asking them questions and showing that you understand their situation and you have the solution that will help them, they will see that you’re better.
If you want to succeed at sales, watch out for these 27 words to avoid if you want to close the deal. Many of them are common expressions that we use in our everyday vocabulary.
First, avoid words that imply dishonesty. For example, “to be honest with you” and “trust me”. Those words suggest that you could have lied earlier in the conversation. Also, trust takes time. Trust without proof is hard to earn on the spot.
Second, avoid expressions that make you sound like you’re chasing the prospect. For example, “Just following up” and “I haven’t heard back from you.” People want to hang up immediately because they fear you’re going to keep calling until you get a sale.
Formal words are also words to avoid, such as “contract” and “individual”. Use more casual words instead, such as “agreement” or “paperwork” or words that make a person more human, such as “client” or “partner.”
Finally, don’t put down your competitor. When the prospect sees that you are the one who can solve their problem, they will choose you. People want to buy but no one wants to be sold to. “Do you want to buy this car?” may not get the positive response that you’re looking for. A better question would be “Would you like to take this car home with you?”
Your choice of words can make the difference between a sale and no sale. When you use words that prospects will say yes to, it’s a win-win for both you and the prospect.