6 Things NEVER to Say During Your Sales Presentation

I’ve been listening to sales rep pitch their products and services for over 25 years now, and there are still words, phrases and techniques that send shivers down my spine. And I’ll tell you now they send shivers down the spines of their prospects and clients, too.

Let’s face it – when selling over the phone, all you have is your voice, and the way you deliver your presentation – the words you use, the inflection, pacing and timing you use – has a huge impact on the way you are perceived by your prospects. Unfortunately, many sales reps project an image of being unprepared, unsure, rushed and sometimes even scared.

Your prospects sense this immediately. They know from your first few sentences whether they are dealing with a confident sales pro, or with someone who isn’t very sure of what they’re selling and who is uncomfortable with the sales process. And like sharks, these prospects will attack and blow you off with all the stalls, resistance and objections you get now.

If you want to project an image of professional competency, then make sure and avoid using any of the following statements or words:

What NOT to say when cold calling or prospecting:

1) Stop opening your calls with, “How are you?” I’ve written about this before, but 99% of sales reps are still telegraphing themselves as unwanted sales persons by starting out their conversations this way. How do YOU feel when someone you don’t know calls you and uses this worn out line? Probably like hanging up on them– which is exactly how your prospects feel as well. So stop it!

Instead, use a better opening line that immediately differentiates you from all the other sales reps calling your prospects. Use something that connects with them instead, that focuses them on the call and that forces them to think and interact with you.

A few of my favorites are: “How’s your Tuesday going so far?” and “Has it started/stopped snowing there yet?” and “Can you hear me O.K.?”

2) Take the word, “individual” out of your vocabulary when speaking, emailing or otherwise addressing a prospect, as in, “I know you’re a busy individual…” The word individual is an institutional, cold phrase that doesn’t belong in a sales conversation.

Think about it: When was the last time someone you didn’t know called you and referred to you or your wife as “individuals”? How’d that make you feel? Did it give you the warm and fuzziness or did you make you think you were about to be committed?

The language you use must help you create a natural, conversational tone, and words like, “busy individual” or “busy professional”, etc, do just the opposite.

3) “Things of that nature.” I cringe as I even write those words…. Whenever I hear a sales rep end a sentence with “Things of that nature,” I’m pretty sure they have no idea of what they’re talking about. That phrase is most often used by mediocre sales reps to hide or cover up the truth that they don’t know all the details of what they’re talking about. Or, it is used to as lazy way to bridge into other qualifying questions.

If you are using it now, please consider using something else, or better, explain a few of those “things” and then use a tie down to see how that landed…

What NOT to say when closing a sale:

1) “Can you transfer me to (the decision maker)?” Most presentations end with the stall: “Well, I need to run this by my boss/partner/manager/corporate, etc.” Unfortunately, this usually comes as a surprise to many sales reps who failed to qualify for this upfront. Some sales reps then think they can just bulldoze through the stall by demanding to talk to the decision maker right then and there.

While I applaud you for your tenacity, asking to blatantly go above the person’s head you’re speaking to or have just pitched, immediately alienates them. Often times this person is some kind of sales influencer and alienating them is NOT what you want to do.

Instead you should use different techniques, one of which being: “So, John, when you consult with your manager, is this something that you’re sold on and will recommend to them?” (If yes, then): “Great, how can I help you sell them on this?” (Only if they can’t think of anything): “Would it help if I spoke to them and went over this just like I did with you?”

That’s the way to get permission and to finally earn the right to speak to the decision maker.

2) “I don’t know about that – let me get back to you.” It’s O.K. that you don’t have an answer for something, but what’s important is that you convey that in a confident manner. Try any of the following:

“That’s a great question and we have several ways of handling that. Let me ask you a couple of questions regarding your particular situation, and then I’ll be able to get the best solution for you…” OR

“That’s a good question for my technical support team. Let me see what they would propose and get back with you.” OR

“We have a whole department that deals with that, and I’ll check with them to give you the best solution.”
Each of these responses helps you delay answering until you get the right answer, but they paint the picture of a bigger, more competent company structure which helps to give you credibility.

3) “When should I call you back?” Why would you want to put the crucial follow up of your sale in the hands of your customer? Asking this question means handing over control of the sale to the prospect which means you lose control. That’s bad. Here are better ways of keeping control and getting a commitment for a follow up call:

“How long will that take?” Then: “O.K. I’ve got my calendar open and that would put us to Tuesday of next week. Are you looking at your calendar? Great. How does 2:45pm look for you?” OR

“(Prospect Name) you’re probably as busy as I am, so let’s go ahead and schedule a follow up call to access progress. I can do this same time (tomorrow, Friday, next week), does that work for you?” OR

“It’s going to take me (a day, two days, a week, etc.) to get this started on my end, how about I give you a call around Friday at this time to see if there’s anything else you need? Does 2:15pm work for you again?”

The key here is to get a commitment. All top producers remain in control of the selling process and know when the next call in the sales cycle is – and so do their prospects!

So there you have six things to stay away from during your next sales call. As you use these techniques, you’ll find yourself developing better rapport, getting more information and staying in control of your selling situations. Heck, it’s starting to sound like you’re a top producer already!

Why Not You?

Russell Wilson, the 5’11, 25 year old Seattle Seahawks quarterback who just won the Superbowl, loves to tell the story of how his dad pulled him aside when he was a kid struggling to make teams because he was so small. His dad would tell him, “Russ, you’ve got the talent, you’ve got the drive and the work habits, why not you? Why not you?”

Wilson says those words became the driving force that kept him competing for starting jobs on college teams and kept him working hard to get drafted in the NFL. On draft day, he watched as other quarterbacks got picked in the first round, and then the second round. The announcers who covered Wilson back then all said that if he were only 3 inches taller he would be a first round draft pick. Finally, with the 12th pick in the third round, the Seahawks drafted the undersized quarterback.

When Wilson showed up for training camp, it was almost certain he would sit on the bench behind highly prized free agent, Matt Flynn. Matt had been Aaron Rodgers’ back up in Green Bay and had a franchise record setting, 6 touchdown performance at the end of the previous season. Millions of dollars later, Matt was projected to be the Seahawk’s starter for years to come.

As Wilson started training camp, he heard his coaches say that the starting quarterback spot was open to the best player at that position.

“Why not you?”

These words rang in Wilson’s head again as he practiced, competed and performed during off season workouts and throughout the preseason. By the final game, Wilson was named the starter, and he went on to have an amazing 2012 rookie season.

As the 2013 season began, Wilson had a message for his team: “Why not us?” Every player bought into those words and that became their team mantra as they went on to a dominating 13-3 season. In February as they headed out of the tunnel to start Superbowl XLVIII, they all believed that no matter who their opponent was, there was no reason they couldn’t be hoisting the Lombardi trophy at the end of the game.

After all, “Why not them?”

As I read these stories throughout the season, I kept thinking about a similar mantra I adopted once I committed to becoming a top producer. I was struggling just to pay my rent at the time, but I’ll never forget looking at the top three producers and the porches they drove and the suits they wore and trips they won and thinking, “What do they have that I don’t?”

I realized they all were selling the product I was, had access to the same leads, the same sales scripts, the same amount of time in the day. What was different, I wondered? When I discovered it was only their commitment and ambition, I knew that I could do it too. And that’s when I developed the mantra:

“If they can do it, I can do it better!”

Once I made that commitment, I knew I could work harder and work smarter. I could learn all the top sales skills they were using, and I could perfect them even more. The old determination came back to me, and I suddenly remembered being in college. I knew I could get “A’s” there, too, if I was willing to commit, and I did. And if I did it there, I could do it here. After all, I had three role models who were doing it day in and day out.

“If they can do it, I can do it better!” That mantra drove me to succeed. I relentlessly listened to my recorded calls and committed to improving on the very next call. I learned how to qualify leads, and I learned how to listen (thank god for the mute button). I developed affirmations and began visualizing my success. And each and every day, probably a hundred times or more, I would repeat to myself:

“If they can do it, I can do it better.”

And I did. In 90 days I went from last place out of 25 sales reps to being #1. And I never looked back. Nine months later, I was the top rep out of 5 branch offices and won the closer of the year award. (That award, by the way, was a Corvette convertible. You can see a picture of me standing in front of it here – scroll down a bit).

I’m going to borrow a line from Anthony Robbins right now and say that I’m not telling you this to impress you, but rather to impress upon you that if YOU make a similar commitment, then YOU can also become a top producer at your company or in your industry.

And once you do this, entire world changes. Your family’s life changes. Your future changes. You sleep better every night and you don’t dread Mondays.

Once you become a top producer, you never go back and suddenly you know how to succeed in selling anything. I’m here to tell you, the freedom from worry, from debt, from the future is an amazing feeling and one you owe to yourself and to your family.

Now if you’re wondering if you can really achieve this kind of success in sales, I’ll borrow a line from the 3rd round pick of the 2012 NFL draft:

“Why not you?”