Top 10 Words To Eliminate From Your Sales Presentation

Jason Karaman

There are only a handful of professions that exist where your words matter more than anything else. Lawyers, lawmakers, political figures, and those who work in business have to be expert wordsmiths to be successful at their craft. If you lack the ability to effectively communicate your ideas, you will find success extremely difficult to attain.

If you work in business, your speech and language skills have to be superior to those around you. Whether you are negotiating a multi-million dollar acquisition or marketing to a prospective client, you must be aware of what you are saying and how you are saying it. This is one of the most important elements in sales – it is crucial to master it.

Of course, we all know that we should be using positive language in our presentations. Your positivity is a reflection of your product, which puts the audience at ease and enhances trust. Words such as “new” and “exciting” are positive words that should be taken advantage of.

However, there are words that might seem benign and OK to say that are actually extremely detrimental to your presentation. These words put the audience in the incorrect state of mind and will have them focusing on the negative.

If you notice yourself saying one of the following words, work to eliminate it as soon as possible.

10. Cost

People don’t want to spend money. They might want to purchase something, but there is always a feeling of hesitation when the word “cost” is heard, because it implies that they are sacrificing something. Instead of the word “cost”, try using “total investment.”

9. Cheap

This one might seem innocent and inviting because people want to get a deal. However, the word “cheap” touches on more than the price – it is also a reflection on the quality of the product. People and companies do not want to buy a low-quality product; they want a good product at a fair price. Instead of “cheap”, try to use “inexpensive” or “competitively priced.”

8. Probably

In the same vein, the synonyms words “maybe” and “perhaps” should be avoided as well. While you might think that you are being less-aggressive with terms like this, you are actually introducing a lot of doubt in to the mind of your audience. It shows that you are uncertain of something, which is never good when you are supposed to be the expert in the room. Instead of “probably”, try stick to positive power words, such as “absolutely” and “definitely.”

7. I

“I” is one of those strange words. It seems unavoidable at times. Much like “my”, it’s really difficult NOT to say because individually, we relate everything to ourselves. We are very self-servicing creatures. However, in business, it’s all about the client. The client doesn’t want to hear anything about you. They will respond extremely positively to the words “you” or “your” because it makes the presentation about them personally. 

6. Customers

A lot of salespeople like to tell success stories about past “customers” to create a level of trust and assurance. While this is an extremely good tactic to use, the word “customer” has a cold and harsh connotation to it. It implies that the past “customer” was nothing more than a number or a sale on the books of this corporation. It removes all feelings of similarity between the prospective buyer and the existing consumer. Nobody wants to be just a “customer”, so try using the word “client” instead.

5. Basically

This is one of the most common words uttered by salespeople everywhere. While you might think that this makes it easier for the audience to understand, you are actually acting in a condescending manner. It’s subtle, but the last thing that you want is the customer feeling like they are not smart enough to grasp a topic, no matter how complicated. Rather than the word “basically”, try using “in other words” or “to put it a different way.”

4. Later

Later is an extremely negative word, because it implies a level of procrastination. It reflects that something is not pressing enough to get done now. If the customer has any feelings of not being a priority, they will be hesitant to buy at that time. It destroys all levels of urgency. Instead of “later”, try “as soon as possible.”

3. But

This one can be used incorrectly two different ways. Imagine this first scenario: you deliver a great pitch for your product. The consumer is a little hesitant and offers an objection. You respond with “but….” You just lost a sale. The word “but” is argumentative and overly defensive. You never want to handle objections by arguing with the consumer. Instead of “but”, try using “I certainly understand”, followed by “however”. You are now able to proceed to the objection handling step without being argumentative.

The second way refers to you pitching your product and using “but” as a conjunction. The reason this is not good is that by using the word “but”, you contradict the first part of the sentence. It might seem insignificant, but it introduces a slight level of falseness. Instead of “but” as a conjunction, try using “even so” or “however”.

2. Problem

This one is tricky, because one of the steps in your sales presentation should be to identify a problem. You want to avoid actually saying this word to prospective buyers. The reason is that word “problem” is a very negative word. Once you introduce the word “problem”, your audience will have a striking feeling of negativity. Even if you are taking about the competition, you don’t want to make the audience feel like they are stupid for being their client. Instead, try using the word “challenge”. It’s more natural and more relatable. Everyone has certain day to day business “challenges”, but nobody wants to talk about problems.

1. Honestly

This is by far the most destructive word that you can use. It’s destructive because it is disguised as a positive word. When salespeople use the word “honestly”, they might feel like they are establishing a connection to the prospective buyer and building trust. They are trying to let the prospective buyer “in” and share some secret knowledge.  For this reason, it is used over and over again.

The reality of it is that when someone hears the word “honestly”, it implies that they have been deceitful in the past. It implies that this person regularly lies to people. Your audience will be thinking “this person is telling me the truth supposedly…did he lie to everyone else? What if this is a lie too?”  If your customers begin to go down that road, you will be forever seen as sly and untrustworthy. This is the kiss of death in business.

Overall, there are many ways that people can flounder in their sales pitch. If you end up saying the wrong thing, you could lose a sale, which is money out of your pocket. It is critical to gain a mastery of your vocabulary and a high level of awareness about what you say. If you see that you are saying the above words, definitely take the steps to remove them from your presentation. Focus on words with a positive implication and you will begin to see a rise in your interaction experience with your clients & prospective buyers.

Contributor Info

Jason Karaman, MBA is a marketing executive/team leader for Marriott Vacations Worldwide and the founder & author of ExpertCaller is a website designed to help people who work in sales, marketing, and business with the goals to promote people's confidence, develop their skill sets, and increase their income.