18 Things you Never Say or Write in Sales Conversations

Sales conversations are many times a wrestling match between the salesperson and the prospect. It may feel like there are two sumo warriors pushing each other towards the edge of the arena, to establish their dominance. 

Things can get uncomfortable. They create stress and the sales reps may use words, that can hamper their sale, many times even without them unknowingly. 


Here is a list of words or lines your prospects will not like hearing from you .. knowingly or unknowingly. 


18 things you say, that can hamper your Sales Conversations


1.  “Does that make sense to you?” 


If you say this, prospects may feel that you are doubting their ability to understand you. 

This feels like being challenged and can make them defensive or enraged. 

Better to use these questions instead: 

“What do you think?” or

“How does that sound to you?”  or

“Does it make sense? ”


2. “Why do you want to …..?” 


“Why” can sound to your prospect like you accusing him. “Why”  can make them feel that they are a teenager getting some scolding from their parents.  

Chris Voss has said given a piece of useful advice about this. He says, “Treat the ‘why’ like a hot stove.” 

In other words, it can burn the other person. As a result, it may just end up burning your sale.  

It can also come across as condescending. 

Better to use these questions instead: 

“What could that do for you?”


3. “Honestly … “ 


If you start with this word, the first thing that can pop into the prospect’s mind is – Doubt! 

If you are being honest now, what were you before? What will the customer consider as true in whatever you say? 

Avoid that word as much as you can. 


4. “Big long signatures in the emails … which include unnecessary details“ 


The modern buyer is smart and fast. He has a very low attention span. 

Putting email and physical address may be of no use and only look like clutter. 

Remove all the things which are unnecessary from the email signature. Hardly anyone looks at it. 


5. “Are you the decision maker?” 


Feels like you are subconsciously saying,” You are not important! I am interested in you only if you can make my sale happen.”

So for the prospect, you are just a person using him to get your win. 

Imagine the negative feeling that you will get if someone asks you this question, while they are trying to sell something. 

Outright disrespectful! 

A better question to use here instead: 

“Can you walk me through the decision-making process?”  Or 

“if you were to buy this, what needs to happen from now?”

Focus is on the process, not finding a “decision-maker”. There may be many stakeholders in the decision-making process.


6. “Do you have a budget?” 


Feels like you are saying, “ I am selling stuff. How much money do you have to buy my stuff?” 

It feels like you are important only if you are money. As a human, I don’t care for you. 

Again, strong possibility of creating a feeling of instant dislike in your prospect’s mind. 

A better way to say the same thing? 

“Want to ensure that, I do not create any inconvenience by us spending your time in the next steps, only to later realize that we are more than you expectations. So, based on what you have said so far, is it fine if I share some numbers with you?”


7. “I haven’t heard back from you.” 


If you are the prospect, that will sound very authoritative if it comes from someone selling some stuff to you. 

You are not answerable after all to the salesperson. You are the customer and you are the king. You want to be treated with respect. 

It has a tinge of the feeling of being blamed too. 

It is much more relaxing for the customer if you ask, 

“Have you postponed it?” 


8. “I want to … “ 


Of course, you want to ….., because you want the sale. Are they supposed to “follow” what you “tell” them to do? Do you yourself like being told what to do? 

It sounds so selfish to the customer. It is as if you are driving them towards your goals and they are simply tools to your goals. 

If you were the customer, would you be happy to hear this kind of language? 

A customer always wants to be in a driving position during buying. They always want to be respected and hence requested in the buying process. Their goal is important, not yours. Your goal is always an aftereffect of their goal! They buy what they want, you get your sale. 

So a better way may be to “ask” – 

“Should we …. “ 

It is asking for permission. It is implying that both you and your prospect are in the same boat, moving in the same direction. It sounds like it is a journey and not a wrestling match. 

That said, even now, it may feel like you are driving the conversation and leading the way. 

But, there may even be a better way. How about asking … 

“Would it make sense …. “ 

Here, the customer has a chance to express himself. Chance to imagine and propose the next step. 

He/she feels in better control. This can make the sales conversation a lot smoother. 


9. “Just checking-in to see if this is a better timing.” 


Shows your haste to close the deal. Not a good impression. It can make you look vulnerable or needy.

Makes you seem like a fox eager to jump onto its prey. 

Repels the prospect immediately. 

Better to share some help over an email like, 

“Here is a booklet of insights on how to increase your revenues using a 7 step framework for B2B sales leaders.”   

Avoid asking anything at this stage. Just focus on adding value. Use the tendency of reciprocation to trigger a response from your customer.


10. “What keeps you up at night?” 


If you are a prospect and the sales executive asks you this, you may feel .. 

“This is so typical … “ or “This guy is trying to act smart .. “ or “So you will use what I say and sell your stuff using it .. “ or  “Just tell me what you are selling… I am the buyer. I am the king here.” 

Overall, this question may many times come off as unnatural or poetic. Have you ever used these types of words in your day-to-day conversations while helping your friends o colleagues?  

Here is the kicker – It is your job to find out the real pains your prospects have. How you discover those pains, shows how credible, intelligent, and empathetic you are to your prospects. It establishes your authority in the sales conversation. 

Here is a better way to ask explore the same, 

“Usually the customers (e.g. sales heads, marketing manager or any other position) we deal with tell us how hard it is to manually handle xyz. Makes me think, how you may be dealing with xyz in your company?” 

The prospect now has a chance to open up if they are facing something similar. If not, they will come out with something different or simply show how it does not bother them. Both of these responses are helpful for better discovery of prospect’s pains and frustrations. 


11. “We create exponential value for our customers.” 


Forget such buzzwords.  They sound salsy … generic .. typical .. . Know it is not about you and how good you are! 

Hampers a bit of trust in sales conversations. Can be a turn-off for your buyer. 

Use simple conversational language

Something that you can say instead of the above generic line is … 

“You will experience x,y and z benefits, that can increase your sales numbers by abc %.” (The numbers and benefits talked about here should be beyond what customer was expecting from you or other vendors.)   

Suddenly, the sales conversation is about the “customer” and “what will they get from you”. Isn’t is much more interesting now? 


12. “I will come back to you in a few days.” 


Again, it is like you telling them what is next. It is like taking their choice away. 

Most sales reps do this. Use this as an opportunity to stand out. 

Use a better question .. 

“What do you think should we do next?  (Pause just a bit .. and then)

Generally, we do xyz after this so that ….  (state the beneficial outcome or removal of any potential hurdle for the flow of the deal.) .. “ 


13. “Give me some time. I will check that out .. “ 


Prospects may enquire about things that you may not knowledge of, during sales conversations. Using a generic line like above can loosen your grip on your customer. You can lose a valuable chance to get an insight into your customer’s thinking and expectations.    

Plus, such a line can sound lame to your prospect. You may look incompetent. 

It may also make you look like a beginner or struggler. 

Pro sales reps will always be more specific. They will use 

The way they will say this is, 

“I can look into it. How can that help you?” Once the prospect talks about what they are trying to get out of it, you can always set clear expectations by saying something like “I can find that our for you. Is it fine if I get back to you in xzy days?” 


14. “Unfortunately, …. “ 


Avoid negative words conveying a denial as much as you can. We generally use them when customers ask us something that we may not be provided in our offerings. 

It can get your prospects angry subconsciously. It can turn off their enthusiasm.

A better way here can be to say, 

“Wish we could …. that” … and then, if you think that you have some better alternative to satisfy the customers real problem or need, behind the ask. 

One more way to go about it is to say, 

“Interesting, How would it help you? or “Interesting, what will that do for you?” 


15. “Actually …. “ 


Starting a line with this word may sound condescending to your customers. 

It conveys that somewhere they are wrong in their thinking or approach. It may sound like you are trying to show off your smarts. 

Better to start the same line with .. 

“So …” 


16. “You didn’t hear me properly.” 


You tend to say such lines when the conversations are in a defensive zone. 

It happens when there is a seeming conflict between you and your prospect. 

Time to take a couple of long breaths. Calm down. 

Then you may rather say something like 

“I see. Let me put it this way. … ” 


17. “I am sorry.” 


This can unnecessarily put you in a position of lesser control or authority in a sales conversation. 

It is like using a crutch in the movement of a conversation, when you may be feeling some inconvenience or frustration. 

Sales reps may use this line instead of saying … 

“Sorry for the trouble…” and then 

“Can you say that again?”  or “Can we do that again?” 

It is like saying, you have empathy for the inconvenience. 


18. “I don’t know.” 


Saying this is going to affect your credibility and competence in the eyes of your customer. 

It is good that you have the courage to say, you do not know something. 

But here is a better way to say the same .. 

“I can find that for you.” 


As you can see, many of us in sales and business development have been using these lines for ages.

Most of us used them out of good intentions while unknowingly creating negative emotions in our buyer’s minds.

It is time that we become aware of them and make the necessary change!

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