Now that we have identified words and ways to diffuse tension in certain points of the sales process, lets discuss words that we should avoid.  There are words that can add to resistance, tension and adversity.  The good news is that there are words we can substitute in place:

  1. Honestly – It could imply that everything you have said up to this poin has not been truthful.
  2. Contract – Contracts seem very final and can create anxiety; instead say something like “agreements.”
  3. Buy – Instead of “buy”, try “own”.
  4. Problem – When you hear this word, the immediate reaction is negative, use “challenge” instead.
  5. Prospects – Call your leads “future clients” instead.
  6. Hope – It shows that you’re not sure, so why would they be? Be 100% behind what you’re selling.
  7. Obviously – Some people may take this as a condescending word, as in they’re not smart enough to understand.
  8. Quota – It implies you’re just trying to close the deal to hit your numbers and not actually caring.
  9. Cheap – You need to position what you’re selling as valuable (even if you think it’s cheap) or you’ll never close the deal.
  10. Cost – This could make them feel like there are other options, use “total investment” instead.
  11. Guarantee – A guarantee doesn’t really mean anything, instead use the stronger word, “warrantee”.
  12. Discount – This can devalue your entire deal, refrain from using this whenever possible.
  13. Cheaper – Great, now someone can find what you’re selling at a lower rate? Not what you want.
  14. Competitor – Don’t bring up your competitors, position your product / service in a way that shows your buyer it meets their needs and will exceed their expectations.
  15. Price – “Price” may make them think they can shop around, again here use “investment” instead.
  16. Forbidden – What a terribly negative word. This goes without saying, just don’t use it.
  17. Objections – Use “areas of concern” instead.
  18. Sign / Signature – Rather than asking them to “sign” a document, ask for their approval instead.
  19. Commission – Everyone knows salespeople are working for themselves, but don’t make it blatantly obvious that you’re going to make money off the sale.
  20. Pitch – A pitch is too ‘trying to make a sale’ focused, instead refer to it as your presentation.
  21. Customers – Instead call them “clients” or “people we serve”.
  22. Advice -Not everyone is looking for advice. Instead, say that you’ve “had a similar experience in the past”.
  23. Deal – There are certain words that are ‘ok’ to say amongst our sales team, but not ok in front of a customer. The word ‘deal’ reminds me of something cheap and of low value.  A word I used in front of a customer or if I was training someone on sales is opportunity.

Less is Better

Throughout the sales profession, less is always better.   One of the sad realities in the sales profession we can all agree upon is that we have sales professionals have a reputation of being pushy, overbearing, dishonest, and focused on making our quota and money.  Over the years, I have found that less is always better.  I know early in my sales career, I spent much of my time in front of prospects or existing clients feeling nervous and unsure of myself.  That will get better over time, to those of you that are new to the profession, with practice and advanced preparation.

When we are prospecting, having a short, succinct planned script that is short and to the point helps us get and keep the attention of the gatekeeper.  When we are asked questions or given an objection, we are sticking to the answers instead of providing a long-winded dissertation that puts the other party to sleep.  When we are meeting the prospect, have a commitment to keep the meeting in the time limits that are set for us means we must prepare what exactly we will ask and say to them in advance.  When we are making our presentation, especially to a group, we are pre planning our content against the time we are given and allowing for Q/A time at the end.  Throughout all of our interactions, we are mindful of the other persons body language and noticing if they are starting to gaze into space or even worse, looking at their watch or the clock on the wall.  Remember, if we are focused on less is better, the prospect will trust us, have confidence in us, look at us as a trusted advisor, and they will think of us as a business partner and invite us back for the follow up meeting.

My goal is to teach, train, and inspire!  Feel free to share comments and insights below.  You can schedule a 1:1 with me, too, using my calendar on this page.


Amy Lemire
Amy Lemire

Amy is a Sales Strategist, Trainer, and Keynote Speaker for over 25 years. Amy has been recognized as a top Fortune 50 sales performer, speaker, facilitator, and international sales trainer. Amy is a Peak Performance Habit Coach certified through the Og Mandino Leadership Group.

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