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Even if you don’t think of yourself as being a “sales person,” if you’re in business, chances are you spend a lot of time selling your products or services.  As a marketing writer I believe that the words that you use in your company’s written materials can have a big impact on your company’s success. Likewise, the words that you use – or don’t use – during a sales call are also extremely important. Let's take a look at some of the phrases that you should avoid.


Whether you’re sitting face-to-face with a prospective client or talking to her on the telephone, your likely goal in a sales call is to assess the prospect’s needs, determine if you can meet those needs and, if so, convince the prospect to make a purchase. In this process, it is important to choose your words carefully. Here are five phrases that can be insulting, undermine your credibility and/or cause your prospect to feel defensive. I recommend you avoid all of them:

  1. Trust me. Trust must be earned, and this takes time. Asking for trust is like asking the prospect to put up their defensive shields and assume that you’re not trustworthy.

  2. Are you the decision maker? Whether the answer is “yes” or “no,” this question can be insulting. Better to ask: “who else should be included in this discussion?” or “what is your company’s decision-making process?”

  3. Would you agree with that? While you may think that you’re building consensus as you move towards a “trial close,” there’s a good chance your prospects will feel like you’re trying to manipulate them. And many won’t feel comfortable saying “no,” as this will feel very confrontational. A better question might be “what are your priorities?”

  4. Nobody can sell this cheaper than I can. Nobody? This sounds like you’re just begging to be proven wrong! Plus, do you really want to be the “dollar store” of your industry? Competing on value is usually an easier road to profitability.

  5. What you need is… Even if you’re right, you’ll come across as arrogant and presumptuous. A better approach is to present your prospects with their options – possibly even saying “I believe your best option is X because Y” – and then letting them come to their own conclusion regarding exactly what it is that they need.

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon