Are you familiar with these 30 words to avoid in your sales conversations?
There are words you’re going to want to avoid if you want to sell more, engage with buyers, and sell faster.
I’m going to walk you through the 30 words that you’ll want to stay away from. In fact, you’ll want to avoid them, I would have said like the plague but let’s say like a virus, in order to be more effective in sales.
You’ve probably been told a lot about what kind of words you should use. Words like ‘you’ and ‘us’, right? Inviting the buyer into your world and the product and the service that you’re trying to sell.
But has anybody ever talked to you about the words you don’t want to use, the words you want to avoid?
I’m going to walk you through 30 words you’re going to want to avoid using in sales. I’ll even give you some examples because those words tend to create a negative environment and they don’t help you. In fact, they hinder you when it comes to moving your sale forward.
Let’s jump right into that list.
30 Words to Avoid in Sales Language
Okay, I’m going to go through this fairly quickly and I’ve kind of grouped them together so that they make sense for you and that you can make some notes as we go.
Words to Avoid in Sales When Referring to Your Buyer, A Competitor, or Yourself:
So let’s start with these. When you’re referring to your buyer, when you’re referring to yourself, or maybe even referring to a competitor, here are our first three words to avoid in sales:
1. ‘I’ – Talk about the buyer, not yourself.
2. ‘They’ – Suggests you are speaking poorly of someone.
3. ‘Me’ – Similar to ‘I’ above. Make this about the buyer.
Number one, ‘I’ because remember, the buyer doesn’t care about you, which is I, they care about themselves, so don’t talk about I do this and I do that, right?
Secondly, don’t talk about ‘they’, they suggest that you’re isolating yourself from somebody else. So if you’re talking about a competitor, say one of our competitors, don’t say ‘they’ okay? If you’re talking about a client, talk about the clients, don’t talk about ‘they’. It’s two de-personalized.
And along the same lines as I, don’t say ‘me’. Number one, that’s in most cases bad grammar. But number two, it’s just a word again that focuses on you and not the buyer. We want to flip that around.
Words to Avoid When Discussing Your Product or Service:
All right, now I’m going to talk about words that you may bring up during the sales conversation. Again, I’ll give you examples of why you shouldn’t use these.
So in no particular order, let’s get started.
4. ‘Honest’ or ‘Honestly’ – Suggests you might otherwise not be honest.
Honestly, if you use the word honestly, and I find some people it becomes a habit. They’re saying something like, ‘well, honestly, let me tell you about this’, or ‘let me be honest with you’. Well, if you say that, it suggests that you might not be honest.
Or that at other times in the conversation you weren’t honest. So avoid the word honest or honestly.
5. ‘Trust me’ – Should they not trust you?
Trust me, just like honestly or honest, you shouldn’t have to tell them to trust you, okay? Trust is something you build, so don’t suggest they need to trust you. You’re going to have to earn it.
6. ‘Problem’ – Never assume there is a problem. Let the buyer suggest this.
‘Problem’, you don’t want to talk about problems. A lot of times, sales training’s about my solution that solves your problem. Well, we don’t want to suggest that the buyer has a problem because they’re dealing with it, so it must be survivable at this point.
So don’t use the word ‘problem’. Talk more about solutions, opportunities, and options. Again, notice these words focus instead of the negative, we want to focus on the positive.
7. (We) ‘can’t’ – You can. It just might require effort or creativity.
8. (We) ‘won’t’ – It suggests you aren’t willing to help.
9. (We) ‘shouldn’t’ – Introduces negativity instead of building trust.
Here are a few phrases I hear a lot: ‘We can’t’. Or ‘we won’t’ or ‘we shouldn’t’.
The ‘we’ is okay, but ‘can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t’ all give negative connotations.
- ‘You shouldn’t do that.’
- ‘We can’t do that for you.’
- ‘You don’t want to do that.’
Again, they’re all very negative words that really take the buyer down a path of us telling them what they should be doing or how they should be thinking, and that’s not what this is about, right?
Sales is about building trust and building a relationship. If you’re asking me for my advice, that’s one thing, but if I’m in a sales conversation, I don’t want to be so explicit because usually, I don’t know what’s behind that.
So saying, ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you shouldn’t do that’ are words to avoid in sales conversations.
10. ‘Dream’ – Buyers want value, and the word just doesn’t belong.
Okay here are a couple of words I hear a lot. ‘Dream’, you can dream about that or that’s something I often dream of. You want to stay away from ‘dream’.
Nobody wants a dreamer when they’re in a sales conversation. They want value, and the word dream just doesn’t belong in any situation.
Unless maybe you’re selling a dream vacation. There’s the one exception. Other than that, I don’t necessarily know what my buyers are dreaming of, so I’m not going to use that word.
11. ‘Cheap’ – Suggests low-budget, flimsy, or low-quality. Is that what you’re selling?
‘Cheap’. We’re ‘cheap’, we’re the ‘cheapest’ out there. We’re ‘cheaper’ than the competition.
Nobody wants to buy anything that’s ‘cheap’, right? They want good high-quality products or services. So don’t use the word ‘cheap’.
If you have to talk about the fact that your price is lower than the competition, I would say ‘our pricing is competitive’ or ‘our pricing is some of the best in the market’, but I would not say we’re ‘cheap’.
12. ‘Low-Cost’ – Again, this suggests low-budget, flimsy, or low-quality.
Along the lines of ‘cheap’, don’t talk about ‘low-cost’, right? Again, we want to make sure when we’re having a sales conversation, we’re setting the buyer up for the discussion when it comes to our price.
So we don’t want them to have in our mind that we’re cheap or we’re low-cost, because when we do present the price, no matter what it is, it’s going to be too high. So don’t talk about ‘low-cost’.
You can talk about lowering their costs, that’s a different thing, but don’t say we’re a ‘low-cost solution’ for you because again it cheapens your solution, your product, your service, which is something we don’t want to do before we actually present price.
13. ‘New’ – This can suggest your product or service is unproven in the market. Would you want to be a guinea pig?
‘New’ is a word that you want to avoid in sales conversations because why? Well, because if you are new, I’m kind of scared to use your product or service, right?
Because anything ‘new’ suggests it’s unproven, and I don’t know if I want to invest in something that’s unproven. So stay away from using the word ‘new’ if at all possible.
14. ‘Negative’ – Keep all negative words – including the word itself – out of your discussion.
‘Negative’. We’re talking but staying away from negative words. But along the same lines, don’t use the word ‘negative’.
You might say something like, ‘well, there are some negative views on this in the marketplace’. But notice when I say that, it immediately makes you cringe a little bit because negative words, including the word ‘negative’, move us in the direction of not an optimistic, positive conversation, but one that is more negative. So we want to stay away from using negative words, including the word ‘negative’ itself.
15. ‘Risk’ – If the buyer asks about ‘risks’, address them as ‘concerns’ instead. Never present ‘risks’ to a buyer. Let them lead the discussion.
Along those same lines, ‘risk’. Now you’re going to run into buyers who are concerned about risk. If you’re selling somebody financial services, risk might be something that you sell. You’re going to help them reduce risk, but I don’t like using the word risk if I can.
Here’s why: How do I know what’s risky for my buyer? Each buyer has their own business, their own metrics, their own strategy. They’ve even got their own personality. Some people are more risk averse than others, for example.
So just because I think it’s a risk doesn’t mean my buyer does, and as soon as I talk about risk, I can create fear.
Remember that in your conversations, your buyers aren’t necessarily hearing every single thing you’re saying. If you’re having a conversation and speaking at a pace that I am right now, you’re really just picking up certain words. So you don’t want the word risk to jump into their mind and they say, ‘hold on a second, did he say this is risky? I don’t want to be part of that’. Or ‘did he say this is new? Is that something I want to be part of?’.
So I would try to avoid the word ‘risk’ unless what you’re selling is risk-averse services.
16. ‘Horrible’ – This is an extremely emotional word. Avoid it at all costs.
Here’s a word I hear from a lot of younger salespeople when they sometimes talk about situations that maybe their product or service has solved.
So they share an example about a client situation and they say, ‘horrible’. My client was in a horrible situation, or the situation was horrible.
I don’t like the word ‘horrible’, that’s kind of my bias. But again, it has such negative connotations. And what I deem horrible, you might think is not that big a deal. So keep the word ‘horrible’ out of your sales conversations.
Words to Avoid in Sales When Discussing Your Company or Your Role:
This next group of words often come up when you’re talking about or discussing your company. So let’s talk about some of those words to avoid. Now, they could come up at other times, but specifically, they come up a lot of times when you’re kind of presenting the history of your company. So let’s start with those.
17. ‘Obviously’ – Suggests the buyer should have known better.
Using the word ‘obviously’, I find that word comes up a lot as more of a habit for some people. Well, obviously this and obviously that, and it’s a word that people say without really thinking about it sometimes.
You want to remove that word from your vocabulary because like I’ve said in the previous or with the previous words, it might not be so obvious to your buyer. So saying obviously doesn’t really make sense, and it can suggest that your buyer is kind of dumb.
And we don’t want to do that, right? Because if I say, “well, obviously”, and they go, ‘well, it wasn’t so obvious to me’. I’ve made them feel in a different mode or mood than I’d like them to. So stay away from the word ‘obviously’.
18. ‘Advice’ – No buyer wants your advice. They want solutions.
‘Advice’, obviously, I’m going to give you some advice. Ugh, right? Don’t give them advice.
If you’re being paid to offer advice, that’s one thing. Maybe that makes sense. But when it comes to dealing with your buyer, talking about your company, talking about even your solution or product, don’t say, ‘let me give you some advice’.
I’ve heard salespeople say that, and it makes me shutter because I’m not being paid to give advice. What if I tell the buyer something that ends up being untrue or it causes them some sort of harm? I don’t want to give advice.
I’m going to give you ideas. I’m going to give you options. I’m going to give you opportunities. But ‘advice’, unless you’re paying for it, is not something I’m going to offer.
19. ‘Maybe’ – Suggests that you aren’t sure. Use ‘let me look into that’ or ‘let me confirm that for you’ instead.
How about the word ‘maybe’? Have you ever said ‘maybe’ to a buyer? ‘Well, maybe that’s something we can do.’ ‘Maybe I can solve that for you.’
Most buyers I’ve met don’t like the word ‘maybe’, it’s too vague. They want commitment. They want action. They want a positive direction forward.
When you say maybe they’re thinking, well, is it a yes or a no? So my bias is to keep the word ‘maybe’ out of your sales conversations.
20. ‘Seriously’ – Abrasive, and it challenges the buyer. It suggests that you don’t think the buyer is serious.
Similar to the word maybe. What about seriously? Well, seriously, I think we can do this for you. Or seriously, we don’t want to use the word seriously. Another negative word or at least can provide or have negative connotations in the eyes of our buyer, seriously suggests that we don’t think you’re serious.
Well, I take every buyer that I have ever talked to as serious. Anything they say to me is serious. In fact, maybe sometimes I take it too seriously.
So I don’t use the word ‘seriously’, and I’d suggest you do the same.
21. ‘Influence’ – You may be trying to influence, but don’t tell your buyer this.
22. ‘Persuade’ – You may be trying to persuade, but don’t tell your buyer this.
In sales, there are two things that we’re really trying to do. We’re trying to influence our buyer or the group of people who are looking at our product or service, right? And we’re trying to persuade them to make a decision, we’re using a combination of influence and persuasion. That’s part of sales.
Well, that is the case. You and I both know it. We don’t need to tell the buyer that. We don’t need to say something like, ‘let me influence you to use our product or service’, or ‘Can I persuade you to try this out?’
If you bring those words up, what they really suggest is that we’re trying to influence and persuade, and I don’t know about you, but the last time somebody tried that on me, I wasn’t really pleased.
So avoid using the words ‘influence’ or the word ‘persuade’ in your sales conversations.
23. ‘Sorry’ – If you make a mistake, say ‘pardon me’, then correct your statement. There is no need to be sorry.
Have you ever said ‘sorry’ to a buyer? Maybe you made a mistake, you made an error, they corrected you on something and you said, ‘sorry’.
You don’t want to use the word ‘sorry’. There’s nothing to be sorry about. If you made a mistake, okay, right? You could say something instead like, ‘ah, you raise a good point’. Or, ‘oh, I missed that’.
But ‘sorry’, puts you in a position where you are inferior, at least I believe so, to the buyer. And you’re not, you’re equal partners trying to come up with a solution together.
So use the word ‘sorry’, when you’re maybe speaking with your spouse or significant other or your children, but don’t bring it into your sales conversations.
24. ‘No’ – Be aware of all the negative words to avoid in sales language.
‘No’. Do I have to bring this up? Don’t use the word ‘no’. If they say, ‘Well, can you do this for us?’ You say, ‘no, we really can’t do that.’ “Can you discount it?” ‘No, we can’t discount it.’
Simply, if you get in a situation where it seems like saying ‘no’ makes sense, what I want you to do instead is simply repeat back the question the buyer asked.
So if they say to you, “Can you discount it?” Don’t say, ‘no, we can’t discount it.’ You could say somthing like this option: You could repeat the question back and say to them, ‘Can I discount it? Well, let me take this back and I’ll speak with my boss and we’ll see what we can come up with.’. Even if you can’t discount it.
Instead of saying ‘no’, repeat back the question you heard to make sure it’s correct, which will also allow you time to think about a good response other than the word ‘no’.
25. ‘Ridiculous’ – Similar to ‘obviously’. Nobody wants to hear that their ideas or comments are ridiculous.
‘Ridiculous’. Ridiculous is something you save for when you’re having fun with your friends, but it’s not a word you want to use in sales because why? The word’s ‘ridiculous’.
It’s a silly word, and again, it takes you away from the professionalism of what you’re trying to project when it comes to selling.
26. ‘Easy’ – Devalues your product or service. Use the words ‘user friendly’ or ‘very intuitive’ instead.
‘Easy’. Now, this one’s a little bit tricky because you might say, well, part of the value of our product or service is that it’s ‘easy’ to use. That’s great, but what might be easy to use might not be easy for somebody else.
I’ve sat and listened to pitches of my coaching students and they talk about how easy their solution is, but when I take a look at it and I start asking questions, I realize this isn’t so easy.
So remember, you define easy, maybe differently than what your buyer defines it. So I don’t want to do that. It also devalues what I’m trying to sell. As soon as I say, this is easy, the buyer goes, “Well, great. If it’s ‘easy’, it’s got to be ‘cheap’.” And those are two words that we want to avoid in sales discussions.
27. ‘Commission’ – No buyer cares what you get paid. Instead, they care about the value they’ll receive from your solution.
Here’s the last one I have for you in this section, ‘commission’. Even if you’re paid a commission, we don’t need to be talking to our buyer about it.
I’ve never met a buyer, even when I was 100% commissioned in my earlier sales roles, I’ve never met a buyer that said, “Look, you need to make some money. Let me buy this so you get your commission”, right? If they want to talk about my commission, that’s up to them. But I never talk about commission because it’s not something that the buyer wants to hear.
Again, we have to keep reinforcing this is about our buyer and putting our buyer’s best interests forward. Presenting to the buyer, adding value to the buyer, helping the buyer solve their situation, or helping them bring them new opportunities that they’re looking for.
So my ‘commission’ has nothing to do with the buyer, and I’d leave that word right out of your sales conversations.
28. ‘Pitch’ – Never refer to giving a ‘pitch’. It cheapens your value.
If you are trying to sell something to somebody, you might be doing a pitch or you might refer to it as a ‘pitch’. Never use the word ‘pitch’ because it takes buyers back to the old days of trying to buy a car or some bad experience they’ve had where somebody was trying to ‘pitch’ them. And that negative experience, we don’t want to bring that back.
So even if you internally use the word ‘pitch’, don’t bring it up in front of your buyer. Really, a pitch is something you do in baseball, not when you’re trying to sell.
So leave the word out of it because there’s a risk it’ll bring up some negative emotions or such with your buyer that you really don’t want to bring up.
29. Slang Words – Using slang words de-professionalizes you.
So here is my bonus tip for you: Avoid using slang words in sales conversations. Even if your buyer does, don’t bring slang into the conversation. It de-professionalizes you.
So again, even if your buyer starts to use slang words, avoid them at all costs. Stay professional, right? Sales is a profession and you want to look professional.
30. Internally-Used Acronyms – Buyer-facing talk should exclude uncommon acronyms.
Last but not least, if you have acronyms that you use internally, keep them out of your sales conversations because ten to one, your buyer has no idea what you’re talking about.
So you have to make sure you isolate and avoid these words in sales discussions. Acronyms are for internal talk, not external buyer-facing talk.
Get Your Action Planner & Track Your Sales Language
If you are looking for a tool to help you stay on track with your sales, I’ve created what I call the 30-Day Sales Action Planner for sales professionals. Go ahead and grab it through the link. There’s no obligation, and there’s no cost at all, but I think you’ll find it’ll help you stay on track with your activities.
If you’re trying to become a high-performing sales professional, you need to learn how to influence. Watch this video for some great strategies on how to influence your buyer (without using the word by the way) and you will be able to elevate your sales and sell more faster.
‘Till next time, get out there, and let’s go sell something, shall we?
© Shawn Casemore 2023. All Rights Reserved.