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22 Sales Buzzwords You Love to Hate – and How to Use Them the Right Way

“We’re looking for a strategic rockstar sales rep who knows how to leverage and optimize our customers’ digital transformation to really move the needle!”

If that mess of words makes you say, wait, what?” – you’re not alone. There are sales buzzwords that we love and some that we really hate. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad.

When you use sales buzzwords correctly, you’ll sound like you’re an industry insider. When they’re used poorly, you’ll sound like a cliché. Before you include these buzzwords in your job descriptions and hiring processes, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

“Strategy”

That thing reps do where they call every lead every day until the customer finally picks up the phone? Yeah, that’s not a strategy, it’s a tactic – and not a great one at that.

For Sue Singh, Customer Success and Project Manager at NextBee, strategy makes her want to say: “Nah, I just spent the last few hours wasting my time or twiddling my thumbs.”

A strategy is how a team plans to reach their overarching goals and all of the steps to get there. A strategy requires you to have a framework to implement and metrics to measure progress.

“I’m going to need to circle back with you on that”

This is what you might say when you finish a meeting and need to schedule another meeting…to talk about what happened at the first meeting. “Circle back” is used as a filler phrase or even as a way to avoid a conversation you don’t want to have right now.

But sales reps can use this as an empathetic way to give their prospects some time to think through their requirements and give themselves time to come back with solid answers. Just make sure you don’t forget to come back!

“RevOps helps achieve sales and marketing alignment”

That happy place where every marketing qualified lead turns into a sales qualified lead. Our community believes this is not just a buzzword. “I like using alignment. It’s to the point and something that is achievable in so many regards,” says Shannon Selis. We agree.

With trust, transparency, and timing, sales and marketing can achieve real alignment, especially if they take a RevOps approach to managing their data, metrics, and tools.

“Let’s come up with a plan for some quick wins”

Closing a small or easy deal to get your manager off your back. There are many names for a quick win, like slam dunk, no brainer, or sure thing.

Quick wins get the sales rep onto the leaderboard and can be very motivating during a tough quarter. Managers can energize the whole team by helping secure some quick wins.

“Hi! I just wanted to touch base”

Touching base, checking in – these are things you say when you’ve sent five emails, left three voicemails, been ghosted, and have nothing to say that adds value. Or as JoBeth Hanak, BDR at Zilliant puts it: “let’s maybe talk again about maybe setting a meeting to maybe buy software that maybe you are interested in and maybe you are not maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe.”

If you don’t have a reason for your customer to speak to you, then it’s easy for them to ignore your messages. There are better, more direct words you can use when asking a customer for something.

“Account-based anything”

Writing special content for special accounts. Bada bing, bada boom, easy peasy, right? Not exactly. Account-based selling and marketing is a strategy that creates hyper-focus and personalized resources for your ideal customers.

You treat this customer as a market of one with targeted multi-channel approaches like personalized buyer journeys, tailored content and campaigns, and highly collaborative sales and marketing alignment. ABS boosts customer loyalty, and if done right, is a proven strategy to increase revenue.

“We can help your company embrace synergy”

Let’s synergize our teams to create a streamlined approach that leverages our core competencies. Huh?

We agree with Meghan Hakey, Director of Campus Outreach at Presence, about this word: “[synergy] always sends this twitch down my spine.” If you’re using this word in your sales calls, stop. It’s hard to take a rep seriously when they use the word synergy.

“I want to optimize my existing tech stack”

Optimize sales! Optimize marketing! Unfortunately, optimize is not a magic word that you wave like a wand over complicated systems, hoping that they start functioning perfectly.

Optimization is a well-thought-out plan and process that makes your business run more efficiently and cost effectively. By mapping out the steps, you can optimize any function.

“Our company is undergoing a digital transformation”

Digitize everything! This term is outdated. While some industries are still going through digital transformations, B2B SaaS companies kind of invented the concept.

In fact, many customers can’t stand hearing this overused and vague term. It’s too confusing, says Shannon Selis, Campaign Manager at Mediafly. “To me, it means whatever you were doing before is now going digital…as if what we were doing or using before wasn’t already digitized?”

“Let’s do some back-of-the-napkin ROI calculations”

When your customer asks “What’s the ROI on your software?” they really mean “prove to me you’re worth my money.” It’s easy for a sales rep to say that their customers get a huge ROI by it’s another thing to prove it.

Return on investment (ROI) is a way to measure how effective the money you spend on tools, hiring, and even processes like sales enablement is at generating revenue. It’s about setting a goal and measuring it to see if a business decision is paying off. Don’t throw this around unless you have the numbers to back it up.

“I just need to find some low-hanging fruit to hit my number”

This phrase is repeated so often that sales reps like Elizabeth Ionata, Account Executive at Ceridian, have only one thing to say about it: “Low-hanging fruit. 🙄 Enough said.”

The problem with this term, and the pursuit of easy wins, is that while these deals are tempting and low effort, they don’t pay off as much as more strategic, high-dollar opportunities.

We all want that easy win, but focusing too much on low-hanging fruit means you aren’t focusing on the larger, more strategic prospects that can generate big revenue for the business (and your paycheck).

“I think we need to take a step back and look at the big picture”

There are so many poetic ways to say we need to ‘take a step back’ like, they can’t see the forest for the trees, we need to focus on the big picture, or we are getting lost in the weeds.

Basically, by focusing on minor details, you lose sight of the real goal of the evaluation.

These phrases can help keep the evaluation on the right track and avoid having the customer get stuck on small details. Unless they need a function your product definitely can’t do, there is always a way to take care of the minutiae.

“We operate on the cutting-edge of software development”

My product is so cutting-edge, I can’t even explain what it does. “Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean it’s better,” says Heather Davis Lam, Founder and CEO of RevOps LLC.

Sometimes things that are cutting-edge are buggy and don’t function as well as other more established platforms. Drop this buzzword to avoid sounding like a shady sales rep.

“What can I do to move the needle on this negotiation?”

This phrase can be a veiled way for a rep to say “please just tell me what you want so we can sign this contract.” Asking how you can peak the customer’s interest and register their feelings on the seismograph can be kind of…weird. Instead of analogies, try being upfront with the customer and asking them what they need.

“Remote work is the new normal”

We get it, LinkedIn’s daily rundown, companies are adjusting to the “new normal” after the pandemic.

We’re over talking about it, says Mandy Sullivan, CSR Supervisor at GFS Chemicals. “At this point, behavior is either normal or it’s not. We’ve been doing COVID protocols for over a year now. It’s not that new anymore.” People adapt quickly, and your customers are ready to focus on improving their business, perhaps with your product.

“We only have a brief window of opportunity to wow the customer”

Limited time only, this deal is going fast, better jump on it, don’t miss your window of opportunity! If a sales rep says this, you might wonder if they are trying to pull one over on you.

On the other hand, if used for internal account planning, knowing when your window of opportunity with this customer is can be super helpful. If their new budget is released on January 1st, your window of opportunity is months before that. Plan accordingly.

“Start calling; sales is just a number’s game”

Just make 1,000 cold calls and someone is bound to say yes, right? The reason businesses are switching to revenue operations and account-based sales is because sales reps are expected to know their customers’ needs before calling them.

Teaching reps this dated approach “gives a perception that if you just dial the phone without any intention, you will succeed,” explains Brittany Scott, VP of SMB Sales at KnowBe4. “Intention is so important with every dial because that is what ultimately leads to a successful conversation which leads to a sale.”

“Do we need to put this project on the backburner for now?”

How about we let this conversation simmer on low heat for now?

Some may think that putting something on the backburner sounds dismissive, but for JoBeth Hanak, it can actually be a good way to get a response from a customer who’s ghosting you. “I like using phrases like ‘put it on the backburner’ or ‘put this on ice’ because it can be used to disqualify people so they can stop clogging up your pipeline.”

There is a limit to how many times you should contact a stalled customer. Follow the law of diminishing returns to avoid negative engagement and potentially lose a future customer.

“We leverage the power of our platform”

Leverage, the more complicated and business-sounding way to say “use”. There are definitely situations where it is meaningful, like telling a customer that you are leveraging your customer success team and their on-the-ground experience to improve customer support.

But if you say this too much, your customers’ eyes will glaze over.

For Ed Jaffe, Founder of Demo Solutions, leverage is “the most unnecessary word in the English language” Ed sees lots of case studies that say ‘X company leverages Y technology for an outcome’ when ‘use’ would work just as well.

“If you’re a rockstar that hustles, join our team”

Posting a job description saying that you want to add a rockstar to the team is cringey.

AJ Alonzo, Director of Marketing at DemandDrive, says “any time I see a manager looking for rockstar SDRs, I get skeezed out. It tells me that they’re looking for traits like competitiveness, a hustler, and resilience, instead of consultative, empathetic, good listeners.”

Sales has moved past this stage, and it requires nurturing your prospects. Instead of hiring closers that immediately move on to the next opportunity, hire reps who practice empathy when working with customers.

“Marketing Ops now rolls up to RevOps”

RevOps: the hot new thing that means one thing on LinkedIn and another when you’re trying to connect your entire sales stack to that fancy new sales enablement tech.

RevOps is a lot more than a catchy name, it’s a powerful business framework that brings together operations from all of the different revenue generating departments, unifying marketing, sales, and customer success with the same targets, data, and tools. The goal is to maximize revenue, but if you ask our community of RevOps leaders, they’ll each have their own unique take.

“We have a sales enablement plan – read this playbook”

Sales enablement, or how to make salespeople good at sales. Sales enablement is thrown around a lot.

Alli Cheaney, Account Executive at Sportsdigita, knows she has an unpopular opinion by calling this a buzzword. “It’s been so overused, sales enablement this, sales enablement that! What is sales enablement at this point?!”

But this term does have a specific purpose: to increase the productivity of your reps by adopting a systematic approach through scalable and repeatable practices. The ultimate goal is to increase revenue. Alli jokes that “I’m also very hypocritical here because I use it too. I like to think I use it correctly though, and that’s the difference.”

What other buzzwords do you love/hate?

There are so many more buzzwords that just need to go. Looking at you, “let’s take this offline.”

Which sales buzzwords make you roll your eyes? Which words or phrases are actually meaningful and just need to be used correctly? Let us know in the discussion below!

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    • 0
      Profile picture of VinceK
      @vincek
      ( 205 POINTS )
      2 months ago

      At some point I think we all hate over-used words, buzz words or otherwise. Trying to cram as many supposedly ‘exciting’ words into a sentence is a clear over-use of terminology. It’s fake, unauthentic, and lazy writing while trying to appeal to the naive, less aware, and desperate.

      You usually get what you go fishing for or it just doesn’t bite.

      But if you don’t want to understand specific words in the context in which they are being used, or you’re annoyed that the English language is limited in some way because you want a new and different word instead of the one you hear all the time, I’m sorry for you. Make up some new words.

      The real blame is the people using them and how. Don’t attack the poor, defenseless buzz words.

      If you experience over-used wording you can *thankfully* let it help you identify those situations you might want to avoid. From my experience, reading too many sales or marketing buzzwords in an offer or message often indicates a situation I want no part of – for various reasons. But it doesn’t necessarily nullify the message completely, until I’ve considered things beyond just the words.

      But yea, usually it does.

      Let the annoying use of buzzwords be a warning flag where you realize that there may be something real in the message, but you have to look/listen for better understanding beyond the surface terminology, consider the source, and evaluate just how badly you want to engage a person or organization spewing that crap.

    • 0
      Profile picture of Adams Green
      @adamsgreen
      ( 310 POINTS )
      1 month, 2 weeks ago

      Wow what a detailed explanation! For those seeking email databases, go and check out AverickMedia!

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