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February 9, 2016 // 8:30 AM

19 Phrases That Kill a Sales Demonstration

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What terms are synonymous with "salesperson"?

Teacher. Guide. Soundboard. Problem solver.

A sales rep’s job is to determine whether a buyer could benefit from their offering, and if so, present their product as the best solution. In order to do that successfully, though, the rep has to successfully connect with the prospect, and nail their outreach and presentation.

But in the middle of a presentation, all it takes is one ill-advised remark to turn the buyer off. Which begs the question: What phrases reps should avoid during their demos? 

Below are 19 phrases reps use during sales presentations that can turn a prospect off.

1) “My product helps businesses exactly like yours.”

This phrase can come off as condescending to the buyer because no two businesses are exactly alike. While there might be similarities between companies, each organization’s pain points are unique and require a tailored solution.

Reps should talk about the specifics of their product and how it can benefit the prospect’s business. After all, prospects want to know how the product can help them and their company, not how it can help businesses sort of like theirs.

2) “Once you have this, you won’t ever need to buy anything else.”

Let’s be real: No product can solve every problem facing a prospect. Not to mention that problems change over time, and new issues emerge. This phrase comes off as unrealistic and can also shoot a sales rep in the foot when upsell opportunities present themselves down the line.

3) “Little to no work is needed from you for this product to be successful.”

Using a phrase like this can be both misleading and inaccurate. All products require some work to fuse into a prospect’s business. Making this promise during a demonstration can result in a frustrated customer.

Salespeople should be upfront about the realities of their product. If it’s going to take some work on the buyer’s behalf to integrate the offering into their business, the prospect should know that.

4) Business jargon.

Sales reps who use generic business jargon can leave the prospect confused about the value of the product. Instead, reps should use the prospect’s lingo to demonstrate their offering’s value in terms the buyer understands. This improves communication and rapport, and allows the prospect to more easily seek clarifying information.

5) “That might be a possibility.”

When used in response to a question, this phrase can portray the rep as uninformed and therefore damage their credibility. In the event the salesperson is truly stumped by a question, being honest and saying "I don’t know" is often the rep’s best bet.

6) “But the best part is … ”

What strikes you as the most interesting feature of your service might not translate into the buyer’s world. Maybe the prospect doesn't view this particular benefit as the “best,” and this dissonance can turn them off from the product altogether.

Reps should highlight specific benefits of the product that will play a role in the prospect’s success without labeling one as the absolute “best.” Let the prospect tell you what they consider to be the best part.

7) “It's incredibly easy to understand.”

If the prospect isn’t understanding the functionality of the product, this phrase can make them feel stupid. And prospects who feel stupid often start searching for a more suitable product.

Remember that what might seem simple to you (a person who possesses ample product knowledge) could be completely foreign to a buyer. If the product is truly challenging to learn, empathize with the prospect by saying something like, “It’s tricky to get the hang of it at first, but once you learn the basics, it’s simple to use on a day-to-day basis.”

8) "I'll do whatever it takes to make this deal happen."

Using this phrase can lead the prospect to believe that the sales rep is desperate for a deal. And no one likes to buy from someone who’s desperate.

The goal should be to make the prospect want the product, not beg them to take it. To do this, provide value for the prospect and show why your product is the perfect fit so they crave it.

9) “To be fully transparent … ”

A salesperson dropping this line indicates that they haven’t been fully transparent already. A prospect who suddenly becomes aware that they may have been mislead is likely to cool off and explore other options.

Be fully transparent from the beginning of the sales process to the end, so you never have to use this phrase. Instead of persuading, educate your prospects of the benefits and pitfalls of your product as best you can, so they can make an informed choice.

10) “I guarantee this product will … ”

Sales reps should avoid guarantees because it’s likely the product is only as strong as the person using it. In the event a customer doesn’t fully adopt the product or integrate it properly, the product can fall short of expectations, resulting in an unhappy customer and lost rep credibility. Avoid making guarantees, and embrace potential.

11) “Our competitor can’t do this.”

Bringing up your competitors can prompt the prospect to more seriously consider other products. Sales reps should be wary of mentioning a competitor’s product in their presentation because it’s their presentation, not the competitor’s.

While throwing a jab at another company can be tempting, reps should highlight the benefits of their product, not the downfalls of their opponent’s.

12) “We offer the cheapest price tag on the market.”

While cost might ultimately play a role in the decision, salespeople presenting their products should hone in on the benefits and the value the prospect is going to see, instead of how much it’s going to cost. Showcasing the value of a product can keep a buyer interested -- regardless of price.

13) “You’ll see the results immediately.”

Everyone wants results -- fast. But this phrase can get the rep in trouble when used during a presentation because it might not be true.

Don’t set expectations that are too high to meet. Instead, talk about short-term wins as well as long-term benefits of the product. 

14) “The only thing is … ”

This phrase indicates there’s a catch. And a catch can scare a buyer away because it means the product isn’t everything the sales rep said it was.

Reps should be upfront with prospects about potential downfalls and difficulties of their product because honesty allows the prospect to make the best decision for their business. If you get to the point when you’re using this phrase in a presentation, you haven’t been honest from the jump.

15) “What you should do is … ”

This phrase can lead the prospect to believe they are hearing orders instead of options. Reps who give orders can turn the prospect away because they make it clear they are working on their own timeline instead of the buyer’s.

To avoid this phrase, salespeople should present the prospect with options that they can choose from. This allows the prospect to make a choice on their own instead of being forced into a decision.

16) “You’re making a mistake if you don’t go with us.”

This phrase sounds like a last-second hail mary to try to win the prospect over after a bad presentation. If the prospect doesn’t fully grasp the benefits of the product, they are going to go in a different direction -- and you can’t stop them.

Sales reps should do as much as they can to showcase the value of their product to a prospect. While you might feel that the prospect is making a mistake if they opt for a competitor's offering, all a sales rep can do is their best.

17) “To be honest … ”

Have you been fabricating features and benefits? “To be honest” can lead the prospect to think the sales rep has not been honest during this entire process. And dishonesty can drive a prospect away quickly.

Avoid using this phrase altogether and commit to honesty (if you haven’t already).

18) “The only thing this product can’t do … ”

While sales reps should be honest about limitations, placing too much emphasis on the pitfalls of a product can be detrimental. 

If a prospect has a question about functionality that you can't answer, use the opportunity to ask a product expert and follow up after the presentation. Perhaps the product team is working on an upgrade and a missing feature is closer than the sales rep expects.

19) “Great -- let’s touch base soon.”

When the presentation finally comes to an end, this phrase can leave the prospect in limbo because they aren’t sure of next steps. Reps should list what options the prospect has next, secure buy-in, and move forward based on what the prospect has chosen.

Presenting a product in the best possible light is no easy feat for sales reps, and it only gets harder when a rep uses a phrase that is likely to turn a buyer away. Avoid these 19 phrases to make your sales presentations that much stronger.

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