According to a Salesforce study, a UK-based company saw a 139% increase in its conversion rate by simply changing their landing page’s headline from “Request a demo” to “Watch a demo now.”
The right words can give you the boost you need to make a winning sales pitch every time. But similarly, some words may break your flow, weaken your pitch, or put your prospects off.
This raises an obvious question.
Which words and phrases should you avoid in sales, and which are the secret to closing the deal?
6 Words and Phrases to Avoid
First, let’s look at the words and phrases I think should be banned from every salesperson’s playbook, both in the deck and your pitch.
These are phrases that water down your promises and kill deals.
“Always,” “never,” and other absolutes
Nuance is essential — absolute terms like “always” and never” show you’re speaking in generalizations rather than specifics.
When you pitch to a prospect, your words need to reflect a thoughtful and measured approach. Using absolutes — which cannot always be true — undermines your overall message.
There are always exceptions to every absolute statement, even if they are rare. And if your prospect thinks of one, you’re in trouble.
“Good” is a weak word. Your prospects won’t choose your product because you’re good. They’ll hire you because you’re the best — plus, your pitch should show that without you needing to state it.
“Good” also lacks specificity and lowers your pitch’s overall believability.
You should also avoid “unique” for the same reason. It’s vague and difficult to quantify.
“Can I offer some advice?”
Imagine if the prospect says no. You’re done. That’s the end of your sales pitch. Don’t make it that easy for them to end the call.
This may seem like a helpful way to bring your expertise into focus, but it can be risky. Not all prospects are open to advice about their approach to buying a product.
Replace this with a more open-ended question on whether they would like to know more or how you can help with.
Cliches are words and phrases that have been so overused they become meaningless. They crop up all the time in business pitches (usually on accident), but you must be vigilant to avoid them.
Here are some common examples:
- “Just one percent…”
- “The Amazon of X…”
- “Imagine a future…”
- “What if I told you…”
Essentially, if you have heard it many times before, your prospect probably has, too. Cut it out.
“Honestly…” (and other filler words)
When you say “honestly” in the middle of a sales pitch, it begs the question — were you not honest so far?
The same goes for words like “frankly,” “seriously,” and “obviously.” It breaks the flow of the presentation while adding nothing.
These words are vague and make you seem less confident. They take away from your pitch.
Other filler words you should cut include words like: “very,” “so,” and “quite”. Qualifiers like this undermine the authority of what you’re saying.
They are also imprecise. Don’t tell your prospect they can expect very fast growth or lots of cost savings as a result of using your product. Instead, say that other customers that look like them (best if you can name them) saw returns of X% or growth of Y%.
Precision and hard facts are critical.
“Best quality,” “best customer service,” “industry-leading,” etc.
Almost every business claims their products and service are the best in the industry.
Of course, they do!
Prospects understand that this is marketing speak and are largely immune to these claims.
Remember the adage, show, don’t tell. If you have the best product in the industry, back it up with awards, certifications, or client testimonials, don’t just say it.
Testimonials, reviews, and case studies are another great tool here. Let your happy customers do the talking for you.
This is far more effective than saying, “our product is the best in the business.”
5 Words and Phrases You SHOULD Include
Now that you know the words to avoid, which ones should you use to cement your sales pitch and make a lasting impact on your prospect?
“Shall we move forward?”
Your sales pitch is all about the benefits of your product, but what comes next?
“Shall we move forward?” is a strong indicator to the client that after they give the nod, it will be smooth sailing.
The use of “we” also implies teamwork and partnership.
Follow up the question by offering to send a contract or anything that completes the formalities. The prospect is looking for a solution, and you’re now inviting them to choose yours.
“What do you think?”
As you aim to convince a prospect that your product is the right one for them, the conversation can get one-sided. Avoid falling into this trap, and involve your prospect in the process.
This is a positive question that can help you also identify if you need to switch gears during your presentation and take a different approach.
If the prospect has any hesitations, this is your chance to address their concerns before they make their final decision about your products and services.
“How can our business help?”
Take a break from being a salesperson and position yourself as a trusted adviser. This question also signals a client-first approach. It shows that you want to understand their problem and are genuinely interested in finding a solution that works for them.
By focusing on what you can do for the client and shying away from lofty claims, you can position yourself and your company as trusted partners.
Remember that many different sales teams are likely chasing the same client and looking to push their products. Break the pattern by being the one that wants to become an ally rather than someone looking to close their next sale as quickly as possible.
The detour from persuasion to collaboration is a worthwhile one, and it makes your client a part of the process. It also gives them a chance to provide you with important information that will help you tailor the rest of your pitch.
“Would you like to try our solution?”
The word “solution” is a great way to distinguish your products and services from others by framing it as an answer to client problems. It is also a direct way to gauge their interest after laying out your plan’s benefits.
If you have a free trial period or similar option available, this is a great question to ask to invite them to give your business a chance and see the benefits for themselves before committing.
“I know you have another meeting soon. Should we move on to the terms?”
Tailoring the sales pitch is not just about the contents. You also need to be aware of the prospect’s time commitments.
If they’ve indicated that they are on limited time, this gives you a neat opportunity to move towards closing the deal.
A looming deadline is a great way to either secure a “yes” or get the next meeting booked. It also shows that you are paying attention to their needs and are not just trying to make a quick sale.
The Bottom Line: Get Specific
A sales pitch is a delicate balancing act. Persuasion is important, but you don’t want to come across as pushy.
The right words matter.
Discard any words that are vague, insincere, or add no value. Instead, focus on concrete, specific, and data-driven information. Focus on language that positions you and the prospect as collaborators on the same team.
One last pro-tip from me:
Make sure there are no spelling and grammatical mistakes in your pitch documents or slide deck. That’s a death knell to credibility. Use a free proofreading or grammar checker to help.
Looking for some further reading? This interesting article by Harvard Business Review details how language can help salespeople succeed.