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The 4 most overused sales clichés

By: Shaun Urista, Regional Sales Manager, Gulf Coast & South Central Regions

Every profession has its own special jargon. But, for whatever reason, being in sales seems to come with more than its fair share of overused phrases. Sometimes we use these phrases to try and communicate more clearly and other times they may help us tiptoe around a delicate subject. They aren’t without their value at times, but there are a couple in particular that have always jumped out to me as being meaningless or, in the wrong light, possibly even insulting to a client.

1.    A “no-brainer”

Referring to something as a “no-brainer” implies that something is so obvious, that you shouldn’t have to think to see the value in it. But, what if your client hasn’t caught on to the value of what you’re offering, yet? Implicitly, you’re saying that they’re not picking up on something that is obvious which borders on being insulting to a client’s intelligence. Admittedly, that may be reading too deep into the language, but it’s also important to consider that it’s not your job as a salesperson to tell someone that something is a “no-brainer”, I believe it’s your job to show them the value of what you’re offering and let them reach the obvious conclusions about the value of your product on their own.

2.    Talking about your “bandwidth”

I’ve seen and heard many salespeople talk about their “bandwidth” and how they may not have the “bandwidth” to handle something or complete a task at a given time. But, what I really hear when people use this is, “I’m too busy” or, “I have other more pressing concerns”. Needless to say, this isn’t a great message to send to clients. Instead, I feel it’s more valuable to be direct and set realistic expectations for what your client can expect from you and on what timeline. It’s better to sound proactive, even if it’s on a longer timeline than they might want, than deflecting the blame to your “bandwidth”. 

3.    You shouldn’t be “touching base”

Calling or reaching out to a client to “touch base”, in my mind, tells your client that you’re just going through the motions. It’s reaching out without a purpose or without conviction. And, if you’re regularly calling without a purpose, your client’s not going to be quick to pick up the phone when you do have something important to communicate. Sometimes, there may be nothing important to discuss, and that’s fine, because that way your client knows that if you are calling, you’re calling them concerning something worthwhile. Hearing the cliché of “touching base” sounds like a red flag saying that you don’t have something meaningful to talk about, in which case, it’s best to wait until you do. 

4.    “Thinking outside the box”

 I understand and appreciate what the phrase “thinking outside the box” communicates to a client. It says that you’re going the extra mile to make your solution work for them. But, if you’re telling them to think outside the box, or that you’re trying to think outside the box, what does that say about the solution you were presenting before? If you’re just now trying to shape the solution in a unique way for your client, the solution you were presenting just seems like standard-issue. Going the extra mile, finding creative solutions, thinking about new and creative ways to approach your clients’ needs: these are all things a good salesperson should always be doing without having to call them out as, seemingly, special behavior. “Thinking outside the box” is part of the job, it’s not something you should engage in on occasion. 

There are plenty of other sales clichés to choose from – “at the end of the day”, “low-hanging fruit”, “synergy” to name a few – but these four clichés in particular jump out to me as sending the wrong message to clients. When you dig down into what you’re communicating when you use some of these clichés, you may start to think of removing them from your speech is, well…a “no-brainer.”

Posted on January 04, 2018 in Industry Sales

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