Every salesperson struggles to remove overused words and phrases from their vocabularies. Earlier in my career, my phrases were, “I’m not going to lie…” and “Right?”, which sometimes made it difficult to be seen as a professional. As I have now coached more than 100 salespeople – most of them under the age of 25 – I’ve begun to notice new overused patterns and phrases. But some of these phrases are crutches for everyone, from fresh-out-of-college salespeople to the most seasoned veterans.
I originally sat down with a goal of around 10 words or phrases to eliminate from your everyday life, but after discussing this with my team, we started to have a bit of fun with the phrases we should remove. We collectively came up with more than 40 different words and phrases to remove. We then went back and picked the six phrases that are true deal-breakers when reaching out to a prospect.
“Hey! How are you doing?”
When reaching out to a prospect you have no relationship with, the phrase “How are you doing?” is fluff. There is zero value, and often using the phrase is a waste of time. Some people will enjoy the small talk, but they will often take the conversation way off track. Other people will think it is too friendly or familiar, and shut down all conversation. There is no benefit of asking on a cold call how someone is doing.
See also: “How’s the weather there?“
Your product or solution either does or does not do something. Using the phrase “kind of” gives your prospect uncertainty in your solution’s ability to do what they need it to do. This also makes seem less confident. Be sure of your product, and yourself. “Yes, it does that” or “no, it does not” are much better answers. And if you aren’t sure, the best answer is “I need to confirm we can solve that problem. Do you mind if I find out for you?”
See Also: “Basically” or “Like”
“Dude.” It’s distracting, and way too informal. I’m all about building rapport with a prospect, but using such an unbusinesslike term will only make you look less professional. If you are talking to a prospect using “dude” in their vocabulary, they will likely not look down on you for not using it. However, if you talk to someone who doesn’t use the phrase, you might instantly lose credibility.
See Also: “Man” or “Bro”
“Does that make sense?”
There are many more effective ways to confirm a prospect is following your conversation. The phrase “Does that make sense?” can seem as if you are talking down to a buyer. It can also make you sound uncertain of your ability to explain yourself clearly. Instead, use “Does what I explain fit the solution you are looking for?” or “Is there anything that you feel I missed that you would like me tell you about?”
See also: “You know?” or “Got it? “
Stop assuming when you are talking to a prospect. Unless you have been able to confirm before talking to a prospect, or have worked at their company, you do NOT know about their business. Even if you have 50 customers from the same industry, there might be a difference in the way the 51st runs their business. Use the right questions and seek to understand them so you can stop acting like you do already.
See also: “I understand what you are saying” or “I know what you mean”
Is it awesome, really? The word “awesome” is filler, and has very little meaning. As mentioned in a recent Inc.com article about the overuse of the word, “When something describes everything, it describes nothing.” Younger salespeople who use words like “awesome” may also run the risk of not being taken seriously.
See also: “Great!” or “Amazing!”
Defining a way to articulate yourself is difficult. However, keeping your word choices simple and clear, increases the chances your talk track will being accepted by the person on the receiving end of the phone call. It is important to push yourself to improve every day, and starting with the removal of words that clutter your everyday conversations are a great place to start. If you are unsure if you have a phrase or word you use, ask a coworker.