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5 Sales Phrases you Should Stop Saying Immediately

We’ve all heard them: sales phrases that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Some phrases have been part of sales conversations for so long they deserve their own Wikipedia page, but just because something’s been around for awhile doesn’t it mean it’s worth repeating. Here are some phrases that should go the way of the rolodex:

1. Just following up

Where is ‘up’ going and why are you following it? Instead of using this generic excuse to contact someone, add value or urgency to whatever you’ve been discussing and ask directly for what you want.

Try instead: “I wanted to remind you our discount is only available for two more weeks - do you have 30 minutes to discuss how [your business] can help solve [a business need]?” This reiterates the deal you’re offering, positions your company as the solution to their problem, and asks directly for a conversation in which you can close the deal.

2. Are you the decision maker?

Ouch. More often than not your initial contact won’t make the final purchasing decision, but that doesn’t mean they want to be talked down to. This condescending question implies that they don’t have the authority to be in the conversation and sets you up to fail. If you’re far along in the buying cycle and trying to move things forward, ask about their process, instead of their hierarchy.  

Try instead: “What’s the next step in your buying decision?” By asking them an open-ended question, you may get the answer you were originally looking for, and if they are the decision maker, you haven’t set yourself back a step by insulting them. Win!

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3. We’re the leading provider of [fill in the blank]

Can anyone still claim this? Unless you’re the Duck Dynasty guys, this opener is usually followed by some long-winded, jargon-heavy phrase which attempts puts you in a niche market of your own. Instead of making hyperbolic claims of greatness, provide tangible evidence of how your product or service helped a similar company.

Try instead: “Did you know we helped XX company increase their sales by 3x, quarter over quarter?” Providing tangible customer references helps demonstrate value and show the prospect what they could get by working with you.

4. I hope this finds you well

E.g. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Probably the most impersonal greeting there is, it might as well be preceded by “Dear Sir or Madam.” People want personal connections in their emails and are far more likely to respond to something they can relate to. Mentioning a recent event or cracking a lighthearted joke can go a lot farther to establish a relationship.

Try instead: “How about them Rams? (I don’t actually watch football, but as I understand it they’re not doing so hot, so sorry if that’s a sore subject)” This opener pokes fun at classic water cooler talk and gives the recipient something to respond to. Plus going with the Rams is a pretty safe bet because who’s a Rams fan these days? ;)

5. Let's circle back…

Geometrically, this just doesn’t make any sense. And if it does, it implies you’ll be going around in circles with no end in sight, so why would you paint that picture? Instead of this generic idiom, suggest a realistic timeline of events based on your typical deal cycle.

Try instead: “Take a week to try out the product and talk with your manager. I’ll give you a call next Tuesday to hear what you thought of the product.” The prospect may not always follow your suggestion, but this approach presents a timeline which takes the guessing out of it for them. Anything you can do to make their job easier will be much appreciated and help you seal the deal.

Take a look through your sales emails and see what phrases you commonly use. Were they handed to you in an antiquated training? Did you pick them up by watching too many movies about Wall Street? Try switching it up and see what the effect is.

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