A big part of sales is about knowing what to say.
That often means that when someone finds something that works, it quickly gets picked up by every other salesperson, and becomes a cliché—which makes it much less effective. And many of those clichés, even though they seemed great, were never really that effective to begin with. Here are five of the most overused sales clichés, and how they harm your sales efforts.
Overused Sales Cliche #1: “To be honest with you…”
At first glance, this sounds harmless enough. You’re trying to connect with your customer by speaking frankly with them, and telling them something they need to know. Maybe you don’t even realize you’ve said it. But wait… Now you want to be honest with them, but what about the ten minutes you’ve already spent talking? To say, “Let me be honest with you,” implies that this is a rarity for you, which needs to be announced. It makes the customer wonder whether you were being dishonest before that. Rather than announcing your honesty, just be honest with the customer from beginning to end. They’ll recognize that and appreciate it.
Overused Sales Cliche #2: “I don’t need your business. I want it.”
Well, aren’t you fancy? You’re a big time sales rep who makes plenty of sales. This prospect you’re dealing with is just a drop in the bucket. You don’t need their business for your own sake, but you’ll deign to take their money anyway, just to help them out. Salespeople who use this are trying to avoid seeming desperate. They act nonchalant, so that the customer will chase them, rather than the other way around. In reality, though, it comes off as arrogant and rude. Treat the customer as important, and make them feel like they matter to you personally. It’s a much better way of getting them to chase after your company.
Overused Sales Cliche #3: “We really want to earn your business.”
This is the opposite of the arrogant, cavalier salesperson. You not only want the customer’s business, you’re willing to do what it takes to prove yourself to them. However, what it says to the customer is that you’re willing to cave on your price. In order to make them a customer, you’ll bend over backwards, and end up selling for a whole lot less than you’re really supposed to.
Overused Sales Cliche #4: “This offer is only good until __________.”
This is probably the mother of all sales clichés. The customer is interested, but not quite ready to commit. They might come back tomorrow… But if they do, this amazing deal you’ve just offered them is no longer on the table. It’s now or never. The problem with this is that it creates a false sense of urgency, which ends up making the customer feel unduly pressured. They might end up buying from you, but they’ll feel uncomfortable and uncertain about it, which makes it less likely that they’ll come to you again next time.
Overused Sales Cliche #5: “If I told you I could help you _______, you’d be interested, wouldn’t you?”
Fill in the blank with: “save a lot of money,” “improve your efficiency and productivity,” “eat all you want and never gain weight,” etc. Basically anything that the customer will obviously want. So what’s the problem with that? Much like the limited time offer, it’s manipulative. You’re leading them down your path, on your terms, and refusing to give them any other option but to say yes. This “make the sale at any cost” attitude does more harm than good in your company, and can cost you a lot of potential revenue.
It’s much better to work with a potential customer to build a relationship and help them get what they really need, than try to force them into something they don’t really want. It’s true that a big part of sales is knowing what to say, but an even bigger part is knowing how to relate, connect and solve problems. And if you’re using the same old clichés as you sell, then you can’t do that. Keep things fresh and interesting, and most of all, real. Your customers will thank you.
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