3 Phrases Every Sales Rep Should Avoid Like the Plague

I was buying a car a couple of weeks ago.  Throughout the buying process, the sales reps used the follow three phrases (and their variations) while presenting /describing the feature of the car.  (Heavy emphasis on FEATURES, low emphasis on benefits).  While the intent of the phrases was well intentioned, the net effect was to create doubt, uncertainty and skepticism.

The 3 Phrases You Must Avoid  

Here they are in all their glory

 “I gotta be honest with you…”

“I won’t lie to you …”



I understand that these phrases were delivered …repeatedly… in the spirit of ‘open candour.’  I was supposed to be pleased with this full disclosure of a key point or fact. The trouble is full disclosure and candour are a given in selling.  I shouldn’t have to be told that the rep is being honest and isn’t lying. It’s an expectation that buyers have.

Rather than create a sense of open honesty, they called it into question.

Think about it.  What these phrases consciously or subconsciously do is create doubt. When a sales rep says, “I gotta be honest with you…” there’s a little click in the buyer’s mind that say, ‘you mean you weren’t being honest before?’  It lasts only a split second. But it’s there like a small stain.

When a sales rep says, “I won’t lie to you…” do you think the buyer says, “Gee, that’s a relief.  I was wondering.  Glad you cleared it up.” ? Even by mentioning the word ‘lie’ you create a little dark cloud that scuttles across the buying landscape.

“Truthfully” seems to be a forthright remark but the opposite of truthfully is what?  At some level the question is asked by the buyer,  “ I wonder, were you being truthful a moment ago?”

Lesson: Think 

We all have phrases – often clichés- that we use to bridge thoughts and concepts.  I have them. You have them.  They become habits. They are handy things to have because they buy us a little time and allow for smoother transitions.  We use them routinely as a crutch, never really thinking about the implications.

The trouble is most buyers won’t point out your phraseology. They won’t say, “You mean you were lying early about …” These phrases are silent, deadly killers. You don’t realize it and often your prospects don’t realize it.  They just walk away thinking, “I don’t feel real comfortable with that rep.  I can’t put my finger on it but …”

Now’s the time to think.  Do you have a word or phrase you use often? Think about them and think of the implications. Could they be perceived in another manner? If so, eliminate them. Now.


I have to be honest  and not lie to you , these phrases can have a significant impact on your prospective buyer.  I’d be less than truthful if I didn’t tell you that some buyers will feel uncomfortable with the implications of your phasing.  It could have an impact on your sales results.

So ‘watch’ what you say.

(See what I mean).

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