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8 Statements That Make Salespeople Sound Insecure

The delivery of your message often matters just as much as its content -- making confidence crucial to sales success. If you sound calm, collected, and self-assured, your prospects will implicitly trust you more. But if you sound anxious or insecure, they’ll probably doubt what you’re telling them.

In other words, your confidence will inspire their faith in you, your advice, and your ability to improve their business.

One of the simplest ways to sound more confident? Steering clear of these eight credibility-harming statements.

1) “If you could give me a call back, I’d really appreciate it.”

This phrase can throw off the tone of your entire voicemail, especially since it’s usually one of the last things the prospect hears.

First, you sound unsure she’ll return your call. Does every voicemail result in a callback? No. But you should act like you’re confident you’ll be hearing from the buyer soon: Don’t plant the seed she shouldn’t call you before she’s made a decision.

Second, this line makes you sound desperate. You’re the buyer’s peer, not her inferior, so expressing extreme appreciation for her time sends the wrong message. She’s giving up a slot in her schedule in return for your insights and advice.

2) “Would you mind doing X?”

Avoid asking the prospect if she’d “mind” doing anything, whether it’s answering a pre-call survey or looking over your proposal. You’re technically asking if she’d be willing to take an action, not if she’ll actually do it.

This question is also unnecessary. Assume that when your prospect doesn’t want to do something, she’ll tell you so.

Change the tone of this question by rephrasing questions as statements. For example, you could say, “I’m sending you a few questions I’d like you to answer before our Skype meeting so I can tailor the agenda to your situation,” or “Look over the proposal by Saturday and let me know if you have any thoughts.”

3) “Thanks again for speaking to me [yesterday, on X day, last week].”

While the intent behind this line is good, it skews the balance of power. You’re essentially telling the prospect she’s doing you a favor by taking your calls.

If you were spending the entire conversation rattling off product specs, she probably would be doing you a favor. But if you’re spending this time digging into her objectives and challenges, providing relevant, helpful suggestions, answering her questions, and/or guiding her through the decision making process -- in other words, using a consultative approach -- she’s gaining just as much from the call as you are, if not more.

Some reps use this as a convenient segue into a summary of their last conversation. A good alternative is, “Let’s recap what we talked about on X. First, we … ”

If you typically use this line to begin a follow-up email, instead write:

“We had a productive conversation today. Here are the main things we discussed … ”

Then include two to four bullet points summarizing the conversation.

4) “Does that make sense?”

When sales conversations become fairly technical or detailed, well-intentioned reps use this question to make sure their prospects aren’t confused.

Unfortunately, this question is loaded with three negative assumptions:

  1. The salesperson isn’t explaining things clearly
  2. The salesperson doubts their prospect’s intelligence
  3. The salesperson isn’t confident about the accuracy of their content

Not only does this question damage a rep’s credibility, it’s rarely helpful. The buyer might be embarrassed to admit her confusion -- especially when her peers are present -- so she’ll say, “Yes, makes sense,” even when it doesn’t.

The salesperson should instead ask, “What are your thoughts on X?” If his prospect doesn’t understand, she’ll usually say, “I didn’t completely grasp Y,” or “Honestly, I’m not getting the value of Z.”

5) “I know you’re busy … ”

I see this line pop up in sales emails and calls all the time. The rep tries to indicate respect for the buyer’s packed schedule by saying, “I know you’re busy, so let’s jump in,” or “I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this under 10 minutes.”

This qualifier sounds silly. If the prospect wasn’t busy, would the salesperson be happy to waste her time? Brevity is important no matter whom you’re talking to.

In addition, the rep is implying he doesn’t have a full schedule. This implication can lower his authority in his prospect’s eyes.

6) “Is now still a good time?”

There’s simply no reason to start a sales call with this question. If the salesperson has sent a email to confirm the meeting’s date and time and provided an agenda, he already knows his prospect is free. Checking her availability for the second or third time communicates insecurity.

The rep should also take it for granted his prospect will speak up if there’s been an emergency or unexpected change of plans and she can’t speak anymore.

Asking this question is even worse when your prospect isn’t expecting your call. Not only does it give them an easy excuse to hang up, but it reminds them of their workload and makes you sound like every other salesperson out there.

The takeaway: Skip this question and go straight into building rapport or setting the agenda.

7) "I'm no expert, but ..."

This typically prefaces a suggestion or opinion, like, "I'm no expert, but offering 30-day free returns can help convert on-the-fence buyers," or "I'm no expert, but my customers often say the issue lies with their process."

The problem with "I'm no expert"? You are an expert. You talk to people in your prospect's position all day, every day. You have unparallelled access into their pain points, goals, and professional responsibilities. You know your industry. You know your product. You've earned the right to call yourself an expert, and denouncing that hard-won experience and knowledge doesn't just harm your credibility -- it's simply not true.

8) "Frankly, we're seeing a paradigm shift, and if your organization can get ahead of this unprecedented change in consumer behavior, the ROI will be astronomical."

This is one example of an unfortunate trend -- using jargon to make yourself seem smarter. As Mark Twain said, "Don't use a five-dollar word where a fifty-cent one would do." 

SAT vocabulary suggests you're compensating. Ironically, you'll seem less intelligent. 

If you want to impress the buyer, speak as simply and plainly as possible. An added benefit? It'll be easier for them to get your point.

Your words have a tremendous impact on how buyers perceive you. Once you’ve eliminated these eight statements from your repertoire, you’ll sound more confident -- and ultimately, more trustworthy.

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