The Best Sales Words and Phrases to Use

By Tom Hopkins

Many words common to sales and selling situations can generate fearful or negative images in your clients’ minds. The experience of millions of sales professionals confirms that replacing such words with more positive, pacifying words and phrases is crucial.

Words and Phrases to Eliminate from Your Sales Vocabulary
Instead of . . . Use . . .
Sell you Get you involved or help you acquire
Sold them Got them involved or helped them acquire
Contract Paperwork, agreement, or form
Cost or price Investment or amount
Down payment Initial investment or initial amount
Monthly payment Monthly investment or monthly amount
Buy Own
Deal Opportunity or transaction
Objection Area of concern or concern
Problem Challenge
Pitch Presentation or demonstration
Commission Fee for service
Appointment Visit, as in “I’ll pop by and visit”
Sign Approve, authorize, endorse, or okay

Concentrating on what appears to be such minor details may seem like overkill, but some of those details pack a hefty punch. You may consider the following words minor and feel that all my fussing over them is misplaced. Language is a salesperson’s only tool — period. The salesperson who uses language well, for the genuine benefit of other people, is a salesperson who sells, and sells, and sells.

The words you use aren’t minor details at all. They’re the very center of your profession. So, when you write down and practice your own product presentation, go through it and make sure your words stress comfort, convenience, and ownership from your prospects’ perspective. After all, satisfying your prospects’ needs is what the business of selling is all about — and the words you speak to them are the only way that you, and not your competition, can earn the opportunity to satisfy those needs.

Replacing “sell” and “sold”

The first terms you should remove from your vocabulary are sell and sold. Many salespeople tell prospects how many units of their product they have sold. Or they brag about having sold the same product to another customer. What are the mental images these words create? No one likes the idea of being sold anything. The word reminds people of high‐pressure sales tactics and usually turns them off. It makes the transaction sound one‐sided, as if the customer really had little say in the matter.

So what can you use in place of these common words? Replace sell or sold with helped them acquire or got them involved — phrases that create softer images of a helpful salesperson and a receptive customer becoming involved together in the same process.

Replacing “contract”

A commonly used word in sales is contract. For most people, contract evokes negative images. Contracts bring with them fine print, legalities, and being locked into something. Where do you go to get out of a contract? To court — not a pleasant image for most people. Stop using the word contract, unless your particular line of business requires it. Instead, use paperwork, agreement, or form.

Replacing “cost” and “price”

What about cost and price? Substitute the words investment or amount for cost or price. When most people hear the word investment, they envision the positive image of getting a return on their money. For products for which the word investment just doesn’t fit, use the word amount — it’s been proven to be less threatening to most consumers than cost or price.

Replacing “down payment” and “monthly payment”

Most people envision down payments as large deposits that lock them into many smaller monthly payments for, if not an eternity, at least a few years. They see themselves receiving bills and writing checks every month — not a pleasant image for most people. So replace those phrases with these: initial investment and initial amount or monthly investment and monthly amount.

Replacing “buy”

What about the word buy? When people hear the word buy, they see money leaving their pockets. Use the term own instead. Own conjures images of what they’ll get for their money, where they’ll put the product in their home, showing it with pride to friends or relatives, and many other positive thoughts.

Replacing “deal”

One term overused by salespeople is deal. This word brings to mind something people have always wanted but never found. Images of used‐car salesmen are only too closely associated with the word deal. Top salespeople never give their clients deals. Sales pros offer opportunities or get them involved in a transaction that is good for them.

Replacing “objection,” “problem,” and “pitch”

Customers don’t raise objections about your products or services. Instead, they express areas of concern. Every now and then, however, you may face some challenges with your transactions. You never pitch a product or service to your customer. Instead, you present or demonstrate your product or service — the way any self‐respecting professional would.

Replacing “commission”

As an authority or expert on your product or service, you don’t earn commissions, either. You do, however, receive fees for service. If a client ever asks you about your commission on a sale, elevate your conversation to a more appropriate level with language such as this:

Mrs. Johnson, I’m fortunate that my company has included a fee for service in every transaction. In that way, it compensates me for the high level of service I give to each and every client, and that’s what you really want, isn’t it?

Replacing “appointment”

One word that can potentially raise concerns in the mind of a consumer is appointment. Now, in the business‐to‐business world, this may not be as strong. However, consumers will view the appointment as interfering with their regular schedule even if the schedule shows that time as free time. Rather than equating meeting with you to an appointment with a doctor or dentist, use the softer term visit.

Replacing “sign”

If you replace nothing else in your selling vocabulary, never again ask a customer to sign an agreement, form, or paperwork. It’s been drilled into almost everyone from early childhood never to sign anything without careful consideration. And why would you want to create that emotion in anyone you were trying to get happily involved with your product or service?

Instead of asking your clients to sign, ask them to approve, authorize, endorse, or okay your paperwork, agreement, or form. Any of those word pictures carries the positive associations that you want to inspire in your clients.