Five Phrases to Avoid During Your Next Sales Presentation

The success of your next sale may be riding on more than the product or service you’re offering. Your presentation will play a major role in the sale. Here are five phrases to avoid.

The success of your next sale may be riding on more than the product or service you’re offering. Your presentation will play a major role in the sale — the words, your style, and the tone of your delivery. Here are five phrases to avoid during your next presentation. By avoiding these common phrases you will have a better chance at making a favorable impression.

Hey “y’all,” “you guys” or “yous.” As endearing as these words are, they are best left out of your presentation. These and other informal words can drain the professionalism out of your presentation and may send the message you want to win them over with your charm. Instead, work to draw attention to your product, the customer service after the sale, and the professionalism of your organization. Remember to use formal words delivered with a friendly tone.

“The competitor’s product is not as good as ours.” Instead of saying, “Theirs is very low-performing,” say “Ours meets all industry standards and recently won awards for best performance in all three major categories.” It is acceptable to make objective comparisons to help the audience in the decision-making process (“Ours has three xyz’s and theirs has one”). Remember that the decision-makers in the audience may have purchased the product you’re disparaging! What happens when that competitor you mentioned merges with your company and you have to come back and meet with this same group? Or if you take a job with that competitor? Instead of drawing attention to the competitor, keep them focused on your product or service.

“I don’t know.” OK then, who does? It’s a natural response to say, “I don’t know,” but that doesn’t help your audience. What they want to hear is that you are pleased they asked that question up and that you will be on the telephone to get an answer within minutes of the close of the meeting. They don’t want to hear you say, “I’ll get back with you,” they want to know when and how you will get their answer.

“We never make a mistake.” You might not say it that bluntly but you might imply it with your praises, your promises, and your passion. On the other hand, you don’t want to dwell on the mistakes you and your company have made. If they ask you about reliability of your product, tell the truth. Focus on what you do to make things right when things go wrong, your clients’ comments about your recovery strategies and your commitment to excellence. Every organization has challenges. It is how you respond to those challenges and your customers’ concerns that can help you stand apart in your industry.


“We’ve just always done it that way.” So they’re asking for something you’ ve never tried before. Just because you haven’t tried it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Isn’t it true that many of the best ideas come from customers and clients? Probe for more of their ideas. Tell them about something else you currently do that was first done to meet another client’s needs. Most of all, thank them for their creative ideas and suggestions. When your organization decides that this really is a good idea, send them something special. If their idea is something you can’t implement, then still help them find a reasonable solution. After all, you are there to listen, learn, and help them find solutions.

Charlotte Purvis is an award-winning communications coach, based in Durham, North Carolina. For over 16 years, she has been a coach to salespeople and other professionals as they prepare for upcoming presentations in person, via teleconference, and on the telephone. Charlotte “meets” and coaches most of her clients by telephone, conference call, and videoconference. She can be reached by phone at 919 309-7878 or email

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