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David Squires

15 Lines To Avoid This Holiday Season

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WHILE READING an old issue of INSTORE, I came across a mother lode of phrases to avoid for salespeople. The lines featured here, and the reasons why they don’t work, came from the sales experts we’ve worked with over the years, Leonard Zell, Harry Friedman, and our long-time columnist and selling guru, Shane Decker.

As the big selling season approaches, think about how you can eliminate them from your repertoire.

  • “How are you today?” Such a common phrase as to be meaningless.
  • “I have something that I know she’ll love.” Sounds phony.
  • “This is my favorite,” or “Isn’t this beautiful?” If the customer doesn’t like it, you have no credibility.
  • “And you know if she doesn’t like it, you can always bring it back.” That’s the best way to advertise for returns.
  • “Thank you. I hope she likes it.” You’ve just gone and created doubt in the customer’s mind.
  • “How much do you want to spend?” As soon as you ask this question, the customer will never spend more than they had planned on.
  • “Sir” or “Ma’am.” To your customer, these words mean phony respect.
  • “It’s the last one I have,” or “Our sale is over tomorrow”. Customers don’t appreciate high-pressure tactics.
  • “Will that be all?” The customer’s first instinct is to keep a tight lid on their pocketbook. Assume there is something else and keep selling until the customer tells you to stop.
  • “What can I help you with?” If the customer needed help, they’d be in the hospital. This question comes across as patronizing to your customer.
  • “Okay, go ahead and look around.” You’re telling the customer you don’t care. Instead, let them know you’ll be ready to talk when they are, and give them a little space before you re-approach.
  • “May I…” or “Could I…” or “Can I…” Never ask for a customer’s permission. Instead, tell them, “Check this out” or “I’ve gotta show you this one.” Now you control the sale, not them.

Here are a few more phrases to never, ever, quadruple-ever use:

  • “The policy is” or “they won’t allow”. This tells customers you are just a clerk.
  • “I don’t know.” Avoid at all cost those three words, unless you add five more … “but I will find out.”

And now, from Shane Decker, the five worst words a salesperson could use.

  • “Thank you for your business.” For a man who has just purchased an engagement ring or an anniversary gift, the event could not be any further away from business in his mind.

David Squires is the Group Editorial Director of SmartWork Media. He believes that the first role of business media is to inspire readers.

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