10 words not to use in sales

Sales Words Only Big Mike Would Use

The Used Car Lingo Beckons, But Don’t Use It

Happy Friday sales troopers!! The first year of the week went well I hope yours did too, I feel the momentum building at my new startup. The whale deals are lining up like humpbacks migrating to the South. I was on a call the other day with another rep, and I had an idea for a new post. 

Today, where most of our selling is remote and over zoom, teams, or Google meet I think it’s just so important we focus on our use of words and the English language. Because in the end when we’re a 2D face on a monitor, and our prospects can’t read our social cues and body language, and we can’t either, all we must go by is the spoken word and the actions we take after a meeting. The wrap on this call used two words that just ****** me off: discount and maybe. It was the first frickin’ meeting for God’s sake!!  So, I thought I’d share my anti-vocabulary sales list (does that make sense in a language-based post?…need more coffee) And share some words I think have no place in the salesperson’s vocabulary, either on prospects, in discussions in internal meetings or with peers. You may agree, you may not agree, and to each his own, but feel free to share your worst words below.

And in the spirit of the title of the post, picture Big Mike the used car lot salesman as your spokesman for each word on the list.

  1. Cheap. No word in the English language kills sales credibility faster than the word cheap. It has its origins on the distant used car sales lots of every small town in America. I heard it over and over in every third world country I visited in the military: Cheap Cheap, special deal for you.  Please forget you ever learned this word.
  2. Discount. This word belongs in low level market and then negotiations. Think of a Connecticut flea market, or a garage sale, where you’re haggling over a few dollars. This word gives power to the buyer, and they’re trained from the get-go to ask for “discounts.”  Use this ask to flip the table and take control of the conversation.  “We rarely do that because our product provides so much value, once I understand the breadth and scope of your project, we might be able to work on a small reduction in price based on a multi-year commitment.”
  3. Try.  In the words of Yoda, “No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”  the word try implies you have no power, nor the ability to make anything happen. Think of your own life, what if you took your car to the dealership to get fixed and the mechanic said, “we’ll try and fix this for you” or you’re at your favorite restaurant and the waiter says we’ll try and cook that Wagyu beef filet medium rare for you”? 
  4. Hope. Hope and prayers have no place in sales. If you’re hoping and praying during the quarter for your magical quota to be hit, you will fail.  I’ll never forget I was on a sales call with my sales engineer a long time ago, and we were setting up and on-site trial for a very large prospect. We are on site, in the server room, setting up a critical component for this prospect, and the sales engineer says “Man, I hope this works.”  The head of IT infrastructure had a look on his face I’ll never forget as a bead of sweat dripped down his face as this “Hope-er” Ran an installation on one of his most critical servers.  Just remember, hope is never a strategy.
  5. Lucky. This word floats around the sales pits of the world and is typically used when that Rep pulls a fantastic quarter out of his ****.  My favorite saying is great sales reps make their own luck with hard work.  Typically, when that long shot comes out of nowhere and makes you the hero, there’s some hard fought in one battles behind the win. The more times you play the lottery, the more times you touch prospects, and the harder you grind the more exposure you have the random events.
  6. Honestly. If you preface any statement with the word honestly, it implies that you aren’t being honest with the rest of your speech before and after. This has become a habit in our culture for some strange reason and using this term is commonplace. Be cognizant and remove it from your spiels.
  7. Obviously. This word Is typically interpreted as a pretentious response and can set the wrong impression out of the gate. It reeks of condescension and is a loved word of the high and mighty.  That same sales engineer that loved to word the use “hope”, would use “obviously” relentlessly. It would piss off prospects to no end, and they saw him as a pompous know it all.  If this is not obvious to you, well then… 😉
  8. Dude.  I know, I know, it should be obvious, but with the rise of sales “chad-ness”, And the attitude of instantly gained familiarity, I have heard this over and over.   I put this here not to make it more obvious than it is, but to give you a chance to share this post with any sales chads that might read between the lines and take a not-so-subtle hint.  Note to readers:  Take notice if this was shared with you.
  9. Seriously. No, seriously. Using this as a suffix to every sentence to emphasize what you’re saying has the opposite effect. It’s another bad habit, just work on believing what you say without having to emphasize, and your prospects will too.
  10. Guarantee. Back to the old used car sales lot in downtown Frisco TX. “Everything on the lot is guarrrrrranteedddddd for life.  You have any problems whatsoever you bring this dirty old gal back to old Big Mike and we’ll make things right.”  I can just see him now with his wide collar shirt, bolo tie and 10-gallon hat.  Nothing is guaranteed in sales, and everyone knows it.

I think all of us could go on and on, but I just wanted to share a list that I hear over and over. Just read it share it and if you must practice getting rid of these deadly words. Just picture Big Mike, the used car salesman, in your head as an enforcement image. How about you? What words would you banish? Let the tribe know.

sales words not to use, sales vocabulary

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