Kicking Tired Phrases to the Curb

Michele Warg
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Modern consumers are faced with a barrage of sales pitches and advertisements on a daily basis. As a result, they have learned to be on alert for phrases that indicate insincerity, a lack of originality, or false promises. By updating your sales tactics and sales language, you can catch customers’ attention and gain a competitive advantage.

For sales professionals, it can be tempting to stick to a tried-and-true script. After years of using the same sales tactics, some phrases are almost a reflex action. To stay competitive in a tough economy and an oversaturated market, however, you need to find ways to keep customers listening—and nothing makes customers tune out faster than a phrase they've heard hundreds of times. As the holiday season looms, it is even more important to revamp your sales tactics; according to a recent Reuters story, many companies are worried about slow sales growth.

In many cases, salespeople are guilty of using general words that cover a wide range of situations. Although generalities can reduce the risk of alienating customers, they are impersonal. A customer wants to feel like you are speaking directly to him rather than to everyone like him. All-purpose sales phrases like “win-win solution” mean almost nothing to the customer. Instead of telling a client you'll find a “solution,” describe specifically what value you offer.

When it comes to impersonal sales phrases, one of the worst is “sales is a numbers game.” Although you might not say the phrase directly to a customer, it often informs sales tactics and damages client relationships from the beginning. In an industry with fierce competition, volume is not necessarily the best strategy. Instead, focus on qualifying clients and building strong rapport.

Over the years, sales professionals have developed a list of phrases that were once meaningful; over time, however, they have lost their meaning. Phrases like “paradigm shift,” “deliverables,” and “actionable items” are certain to make clients’ eyes glaze over. What’s worse, they have the potential to mark you as a corporate drone who doesn’t understand their needs. When you’re updating your sales tactics, make a point to remove all trendy and tired phrases.

When it comes to sales, it is crucial to avoid words that come off as trite. The worst offenders are often words that make a blanket promise about the product: “exciting,” “innovative,” and “honestly,” for example. In almost every case, it is better to explain the product or service and let it speak for itself. Instead of asserting that it is exciting or innovative, tell the client about the features that make it so.

By removing tired, overused phrases from your conversations with clients, you can engage in discussions that are more personal and tailored. As a result, you’ll find that your sales tactics are more effective.


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