Say What?! 20 Sales Phrases to Avoid

By Paul Dobbins - Director, Account Development Nov 9, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Sales Phrases

Communication is key. But just as important as knowing what to say is knowing what not to say. Train yourself to avoid these killer sales phrases.

Whether you’re selling furniture warranties or smartphones, how you communicate is an important part of the retail sales process. And choosing your words carefully is critical.

Here are 20 words and phrases to avoid during your next customer conversation:

  1. I don’t know.
    Sure, your customers don’t expect you to know everything. But they do expect you to be confident enough that if you can’t provide an answer you’ll know where to find one. In the event you don’t have an answer, ‘Let me look into that’ is a better approach than ‘I don’t know.’
  2. All sales are final.
    Although it may be true, choosing a response that instead communicates your store’s flexibility is important. If you want to make sure a customer is aware that an item is designated for final sale, consider asking them ‘Are you familiar with our return policy?’
  3. Calm down.
    If a customer has reached the point that they’re ranting and you’re tempted to use this phrase, it’s best to say nothing at all. Let the customer finish their explanation. Once they’ve been able to share their side of the story, it’s likely they’ll calm down.
  4. We’re closed.
    It might be time to pack up and head home, but ‘We’re closed’ is a sure fire way to turn away a potential sale. Instead, try informing the customer of your store hours and asking if there’s something you can do for them quickly.
  5. Did you see it?
    When a customer seeks out your assistance to find an item, chances are they’ve had some trouble finding it. First, confirm you carry the product, and either take the customer to the item or go get it for them. It’s possible the item is out of stock on the floor, or they might have just missed it.
  6. Will that be all?
    Though polite and well meaning, closing with this phrase means you’re passing up a chance at making an additional sale. Don’t you want to take advantage of the opportunity for add-on sales?
  7. It’s over there.
    You’re busy; but just pointing to the other side of the store shows more indifference than assistance. Show your customers that you value them by taking the time to walk them to the item.
  8. I can’t do that.
    Customers rely on you for help, so avoid outright refusal. If you can’t assist, provide them with a manager or someone else who can help.
  9. That’s not my department.
    Whether you work solely in the mattress department or you tend to spend more time with sofas doesn’t matter to a customer who needs help. Managers should make sure every staff member is familiar with all areas of the store—or that they at least understand who to contact for assistance.
  10. Like I said...
    Phrases such as ‘Like I said’ and ‘You have to’ come off as arrogant or insensitive and give customers a reason to disconnect fast.
  11. We’re out of that.
    Sometimes your store will run out of something you typically carry. However, just because you don’t have the latest iPhone in rose gold, for example, doesn’t mean that you should abandon a potential sale. If you don’t let a customer know if and when that item will be restocked, they’ll likely go buy it elsewhere.
  12. If you would have read our return policy...
    Similar to the phrase ‘All sales are final,’ not only does this phrase suggest a lack of flexibility, it also comes off as confrontational by placing blame on the customer.
  13. Hold on (and other sloppy phrases).
    ‘Hold on’, ‘Just a sec’, ‘What’s the problem?’, ‘Let me pull you up (on my screen)’, and so on. Sloppy. You can do better.
  14. He’s very busy right now.
    While this might be true, this phrase shows a lack of commitment on the part of the sales professional. Customers want concrete information. Can you provide a time when the person they need to speak with will return? Is there someone else who can assist in his place?
  15. Honestly...
    You might be about to spout the honest-to-goodness truth, but prefacing something with the word ‘honestly’ suggests that everything you’ve said up to that point was less than truthful.
  16. Obviously...
    For many, this verbal crutch comes off as condescending, as if the listener isn’t smart enough to have discovered the answer on their own. As an extension of this, make sure to also avoid patronizing questions that might suggest a customer can’t do or doesn’t recognize something.
  17. It’s no big deal.
    It might not be a big deal to you, but if a customer has brought something to your attention, it’s likely a big deal to him or her. Take the time to hear out their concerns in full.
  18. Don’t worry about it.
    Try not to instruct a customer on how they should feel about a specific issue. Instead, reassure them that you can, and will, take care of the issue for them.
  19. You’re the first one to complain about this.
    Customers don’t care how many times you’ve heard or haven’t heard about a particular issue; they want answers. Many customers don’t often complain, so use this customer’s unique complaint as an opportunity for improvement.
  20. You don’t seem to understand.
    When there’s a breakdown in communication, it might be because you’re not being clear. Your customer may even be distracted. Instead of placing blame on your customer, try asking ‘What can I clarify?’
What phrases have you banned when interacting with customers? Tweet us at @Fortegra and let us know the worst sales phrases you’ve heard.

Categories: Warranty

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