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Avoid These 5 Phrases in Your B2B Sales Calls (& Say This Instead)

Posted by IndustrySelect on Tuesday, March 30, 2021



The last thing you want to do on a sales call is sound like everybody else. But you also don't want to put your foot in your mouth and lose business as a result.

There is a way to find the perfect balance of unique but competent. Below are a few examples of what to avoid saying on a sales call and what you can say as an alternative.

1. "What Can You tell Me About Your Business?"

Wait a second, aren’t you trying to sell to them? If that’s the case, shouldn’t you already know what they do, how they do it and what their specific pain points are? Asking that question tells the prospect that you couldn't be bothered to do rudimentary research on their company. This omission severely degrades their opinion of your abilities, even if you are an excellent salesperson.

An alternative is to let them know that you already have information about their company and are looking for more details to fill in the gaps. For instance: “I know that COVID-19 has hit restaurants hard and your company had a significant portion of its products going to legacy establishments. Are you starting to see a recovery in those markets?”

That question may sound extremely specific, but it is designed that way for a reason. The structure of that question forces an extended dialogue versus a simple yes/no answer. It also indicates to the prospect that you understand their business, their challenges and external factors.

2. "Do You Have Time to Talk?"

This question sounds like the beginning of every awkward conversation we’ve ever had with friends and spouses. It will produce the same sensations of impending doom on prospects, so this is what to avoid saying on a sales call. This introduction and its variants also produce an air of inferiority, as if you are not important enough to deserve any of their time. Make no mistake - you do not want to come across as arrogant or self-important, but you definitely do not want to give people the impression that you lack confidence in your own abilities. And even more importantly, you do not want to give them an immediate way to avoid you by simply saying "No."

Rather than presenting them with a way to dodge you, make your greeting sincere but to the point. For example: "Hello, I'm glad we were able to make contact. I know you're very busy at this time of year."

Deliver a greeting that acknowledges their schedule but does not diminish your own importance. A greeting of this variety also allows you to go right into the business aspect of the conversation rather than attempting small talk.

3. "The Competitor's Stuff is Junk"

What to avoid saying on a sales call includes bad-mouthing competitors. You may know their stuff is junk and they may know it, but there’s no reason to actually say it. If a prospect asks you about a competitor's products or overall business model, answer professionally and dispassionately. Throwing another company under the bus can make your prospect worry as to whether you would speak about them the same way to other companies. Rather than disrespecting other companies and their products, describe negative qualities in a positive manner.

Previously, you may have said: “A1’s fasteners stink. They’re always breaking because they’re cheap.”

Instead, try saying something along these lines: “We’ve found that A1’s fasteners work best on low-vibration applications targeted at the consumer market.”

You've identified the shortcomings of the product without badmouthing the other company. This is a professional way to handle the situation.

4. "It's Super Easy to Do"

Sure, coming up with a social media campaign may be easy for you, but what about your prospect? Remember that everyone not only has different skill sets but also different responsibilities. If they are already maxed out trying to keep their business operating, anything extra you suggest is not going to seem easy to them, so what to avoid saying on a sales call includes any suggestion that something is easy.

Instead of assuming the difficulty level, tell them a simplified description of what’s involved so they can form their own opinion about it. For example: "We have seen success with several storage tank manufacturers in Texas using this method. Most of them had a campaign plan set up within one week, which included gathering the photos, writing the captions and setting up the account."

Giving the prospect control over their schedule and what they want to take on is extremely empowering. Let them tell you what they can handle, and then you can both move forward from that point.

5. "Hey There, Buddy!"

For the love of all your sales, if you don’t know the person’s name, just ask again. Using generic nicknames like buddy, pal, chief, sweetie, hoss or hun over an entire sales call is a dead giveaway that you forgot the prospect's name. Additionally, while these nicknames may be fine in certain parts of the country or with people you are familiar with, they can be offputting or even insulting if a strong relationship has not yet been forged.

To save face and avoid "buddying" your prospect, try this example: "And forgive me, tell me your name one more time. I want to make sure I wrote it down correctly."

If you are on a second sales call with someone and you still don't know their name, that's a little harder to explain. A quick way around this problem is to ask for their email address. Most business emails have the person’s first and last name as part of it. If that doesn’t work, you may have to relinquish your pride and admit that you forgot their name.

Resources to Help

To get easy access to information about a company, learn the names of critical contact personnel in advance, and be armed with the latest industry trends and data, visit IndustrySelect. With nearly 400,000 manufacturers in the database, IndustrySelect gives you an advantage when making cold calls. Subscribers have the ability to save company profiles, print reports and export data to CRM software.


Want to keep up with the latest sales and marketing trends and exclusive industrial statistics from MNI? The free weekly IndustrySelect Insider email is the industry's top source for sales, marketing and industrial news you can't find anywhere else. Subscribe here.

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