Avoid These Deal-Killing Phrases

Avoid These Deal-Killing Phrases

Even the slightest mistake in word choice can turn a prospect or client off. The words we choose can make or break a deal, which means we spend a lot of time thinking about the words we use to pitch our services.

No matter how hard we try to weed out the blatantly negative or unnecessary terms in our vocabulary, we still miss a few. Let’s look at a few deal-killing terms and how you might phrase things better the next time around.

  1. “I don’t know.” Instead of saying something like, “I don’t know if I can help you with this,” you might consider rephrasing it this way: “I know what we can do, I’m going to loop in my partner, they are best qualified to help you with this.” So remember, saying “I don’t know” can make a customer or one of your prospects nervous. Always show confidence and direct them to a solution.
  2. “Actually.” Instead of saying, “Well, actually, you need to…” you might say, “Sure thing, you can do this by…” Now the word “actually” is very presumptuous and can come across as demeaning, so replace it with something more upbeat and positive.
  3. “In fact.” This is a distant cousin to “actually.” Instead of saying, “In fact, we can’t help you with that,” you might say, “It turns out we don’t offer that option anymore, but let’s find another way to address your needs.” What may be a “fact” to you may be completely unknown to your customer or prospect, so remember: assume nothing.
  4. “But.” Instead of saying, “I’ll be happy to help, but I’ll need…” you might way to say something like, “I’ll be happy to help! Do you have x nearby?” Using the word “but” to transition to a question can really zap the energy from a conversation and negate the first part of your response.
  5. “Apologies.” Rather than saying, “Apologies for the inconvenience,” you need to own it. Say something like, “I’m sorry that you’re having this issue.” If you’re going to apologize, own it. It’s more personal and more sincere.
  6. “As you know.” Instead of saying, “As you know, you can…” you might want to say, “Great question, have you…” Never assume your customers or prospects know anything without asking the question first. Assume nothing, question everything in all of your conversations and interactions.
  7. “I’m afraid that.” Instead of saying, “I’m afraid that we can’t help with that issue,” you might say something like, “It looks like our service doesn’t address that specific issue. We have something else that looks like it might be very similar. Would you like to learn more?” Think about it. When watching a crime show on television, how does the detective always tell someone that their loved one has been a victim of a crime? You guessed it: “I’m afraid that your loved one has been [fill in the blank]…”

So remember: words matter. Choose wisely.

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About the author

Will Adams

Will Adams is the Marketing Director for Tarkenton Companies, and serves the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs through educational, consulting, and coaching services. He learns about his customers’ problems and finds ways to solve them, listening to customers, bringing new products and services to market, developing and managing strategic partner relationships, establishing sales and distribution channels, and managing revenue-producing initiatives, among many other things. His expertise in business operations encompasses retail sales, direct sales, talent acquisition and development, and general management.

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