Whether it is time for a touch-point call or you’re visiting a new prospect for the first time, incorporating one or more of these phrases into your approach could be a deal killer. From giving your prospect an easy way to put things off to using too much jargon or lingo, it’s time to strike these words and phrases from your selling vocabulary.
1. “Are you the decision maker?”
In today’s organizational structures, there is often more than one decision maker, so this question sounds terribly dated to most prospects. Even worse, this question could give a prospect an easy out, simply by claiming they can’t make the decision or don’t have the power to buy. A better question to ask would be “How does your organization make buying decisions?” and then listen to the response.
2. Filler words “Like, um, ah, you know, but, basically...”
These verbal crutches are conversation killers, and they are insidious, because you may not even realize you are using them. Throwing in too many fillers, from “you know” to “um” and even “honestly” may be preventing your buyer from hearing your actual message. Incorporating pauses into your speech instead of falling back on fillers will make you sound more professional and informed, which may help your prospect to listen more closely.
3. Acronyms and Lingo
You have in-house and industry lingo that you use with your team, but that jargon may not be familiar to your client. Peppering your conversation with this type of language or overusing acronyms may cause your buyer to stop paying attention at all. You even risk embarrassing your client if he or she doesn’t understand the terminology you are using. Use acronyms or lingo with caution, and be sure that your prospect understands what you are talking about.
4. Strange Jokes or Icebreakers
An odd or even inappropriate icebreaker can derail the conversation entirely. Even if you don’t turn the prospect off completely with a strange joke or comment, it does not add anything to the conversation and only makes you memorable in an unfortunate way. Keep things professional by offering polite, non-controversial small talk to break the ice instead of relying on an oddball question or joke that could fall flat.
5. Starting your conversation with, “How are you?”
The conversation can go one of two ways when you ask this open-ended question:
- “Fine, thanks.”
- “Awful! My car broke down, my kids are sick and my dog died yesterday.”
Neither of these answers moves the conversation forward in any way. This question is also very general and not tailored to your prospect at all. Instead of starting with this dead-end query, fall back on your notes and ask a more specific question – “How did it go on the golf course last weekend?” or “What did you think of the speaker at the recent conference we both attended?” Both approaches are true conversation starters and far more productive than “How are you?”
6. “What will it take to earn your business?”
This open-ended question sounds dated and may trigger more of a response or request than you are used to dealing with. It also seems like an approach used by a used car salesperson or door-to-door seller – incorporating this phrase into your own sales vocabulary may not get you the results you want.
You’re already committed to earning their business, so instead, probe about what is most important to them. The decision to buy can be based on many reasons—solving a problem, having the fastest, best or newest product—it can even be purely aesthetic. Learning “why” someone is motivated to buy is far more important than asking them to declare what would make them buy.
7. “Don’t you want to save money?"
This question sounds quite confrontational, and you run the risk of putting the prospect off entirely. You’ll basically be putting the client on the defensive and forcing them to either buy or admit that they actually are not interested in saving money for their company. And honestly, doesn’t everyone want to save money?
8. “Is price the only thing holding you back?”
This phrase puts you in a situation where you are almost begging the customer to ask for a discount. By asking this question, you are essentially admitting that you may have to give a discount to close the sale and that you have the power and flexibility to do so. It also implies that the buyer has more negotiating room than you may actually be able to offer.
If the prospect seems reluctant to make a decision, ask them where they are on a scale of 1 to 10; 10 being ready to buy and 1 being ‘not interested.’ Then, based on their answer, ask them what they need to move them closer to 10.
9. Interjecting Inspirational Quotes or extraneous language
- "You know you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
- “It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.”
- Take risks. If you win, you’ll be happy; if you lose, you’ll be wise.”
If you’re falling back on clichés, you’ve run out of anything constructive to say. Inspirational quotes may motivate you and even look great on an Instagram post, but they aren’t relevant in the selling process. Instead, make sure you’ve really teased out the needs of your prospect and how your product or service can solve those needs— in your own words. Effective selling is about finding out what buyers want and need and determining whether you can fill that need or solve their problems. Avoid turning off prospects or wasting their time with idle chatter to help ensure that they’ll take your calls and that you can have productive conversations to move your relationship forward.