Everyone has his or her own particular pet peeves when it comes to language. However, certain words or turns of phrase move from pet peeve territory into overused and ineffective. In other words, sales words that your prospects hate.

These are tried-and-not-so-true words and phrases we hear over and over again. As a salesperson, you likely say them over and over again. That’s part of the problem. When a word is used in a specific context so often, it comes with a lot of baggage.

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Even associations you don’t mean to bring to the table come like unwelcome stowaways that can turn off your prospects. The worst part is, likely neither you nor your prospects realize what’s happening.

This is what your prospect looks like after hearing the words below…

Without further ado, here are our top 13 sales words that your prospects hate.

The Top 13 Sales Words That Your Prospects Hate

1. ‘Honestly’.

Everyone honestly hates hearing this word during a sales pitch. When you drop this word into the end of the pitch, not only does it conjure up the image of a greasy used car salesman, but it also implies everything you’ve said up that point wasn’t true. The same goes for the word ‘seriously’.

2. ‘Obviously’.

‘Obviously’ is one of those rhetorical choices that you want to avoid in term papers and in sales pitches. At best it sounds dismissive of other points of view. At worst, it comes condescending. ‘Clearly’ falls into this category as well.

3. ‘Innovate’/innovative’.

It’s time to leave the word ‘innovative’ where it belongs – in 2010. This word is so overused (and misused) that it means nothing and leads to becoming one of the top sales words that your prospects hate.

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It rolls off your prospects backs. No one needs to be told something is innovative. You know it when you see it. So if your product or service truly is ‘innovative’, show it.

4. ‘Cutting edge’, ‘leading’, or ‘world class’.

Falling into the same category as ‘innovative’, these words have been used so much they are meaningless. Half of all companies will use one of these adjectives to describe themselves.

Again, if it’s true, you should be able to show this through case studies, statistics, or your product’s unique benefits.

5. ‘Customer-focused’.

Everything about your business should be customer focused. To explicitly say it is, implies that other areas aren’t. If there is something you do better than your competitors, like faster response times, say that instead. Give concrete examples.

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It will always serve you better.

6. ‘Discount’.

One of the sneakiest sales words that your prospects hate is ‘discount’. Everyone loves to get a deal, but throwing this word around makes your product sound overpriced.

We all know those big retailers that overprice their products and offer them at a constant discount. Research has shown that dropping this word during a sales pitch can drop the closing rate by 17%.

7. ‘Cheap’.

For your prospect, ‘cheap’ has a synonym and it’s shoddy. ‘Cheap’ doesn’t read as a great deal they should snatch up but setting a quality standard for your product. Consider saying ‘low investment’ or ‘cost-effective’ instead.

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8. ‘For example’ and ‘let me show you’.

Prospects want to know how your product is going to help them. They don’t want to know the nitty-gritty details of how it works so using ‘for example’ and ‘let me show you’ too often can have your prospects turning off their minds. And their interest.

9. ‘Just’.

This is a mitigation word. ‘Just checking in’. ‘Just wanted to see if you looked over my proposal.’ Salespeople usually find themselves saying these types of things when a prospect hasn’t followed up with them.

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Instead of putting the burden on your prospect, use these opportunities to create more value. Instead try, “What else do you need from me to move forward?”

10. ‘I wanted to’.

Should your prospects care what you want? No. Each interaction should be about the prospect and offering them value. This is a common phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but it is easy to eliminate. Try asking, “Would you like to?” instead.

11. Your crutch word.

Everyone has a unique pattern of speaking. While this is great as it adds dimension and individuality to every interaction, it also means that everyone likely has one or more crutch words. These could be ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘ah’, ‘you know?’, or something else.

It’s words or sounds you fall back on when you’re thinking, you want to break into the conversation, or move on from a point. One of my crutch phrases is ‘all right’.

These words can come off as unsure leading your prospect to feel hesitant without knowing why.

12. ‘Best in class’ or ‘best of breed’.

Not only have these words been overused, they’re also meaningless. Even if something is ‘best in class’, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best fit for your prospect. They’ll pick up on that distinction too.

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Demonstrating how your product or service can fix a problem they have is leagues more effective than empty accolades.

13. ‘Thinking outside the box’.

By using this phrase, you’re negating it. ‘Thinking outside the box’ means creative, but it’s the least creative way to express it. The continued theme of show-don’t-tell continues here.

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If you can show how creative you’re without the need to tell a prospect, you’re better off. Your prospect has likely shopped around to your competitors and will know if what you’re offering is truly ‘outside the box’ or not.

A Caveat to Sales Words That Your Prospects Hate

If you use these words, does it mean you will never make a sale? No. Using these words are likely to irritate your prospects and reduce the chance you make a sale.

Every salesperson has a different approach and some people might find that some of these words work well for them. That’s up to you to decide.

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Sales is a fascinating area that’s a mash-up of psychology, interpersonal communication, charisma, and gut instinct.

There’s always room to improve and hone sales skills even for top salespeople. Finding better, clearer words to use to demonstrate value to your prospects can only help. And especially eliminating those sales words that your prospects hate.

What are the sales words that your prospects hate? Let us know which ones we missed in the comments.

 sales words that your prospects hate


Kasia Kowalska

Kasia Kowalska

Content Manager at Growbots. Reading good copy makes me want to sing.

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