Words You Should and Shouldn’t Use in Sales Conversations

The words you choose to use matter. Words are very powerful.  In, fact the words that you use may positively or negatively impact your Mutesales.

You have probably heard at some point that people buy things based on emotion and then justify their purchase with logical reasons.

In every sales conversation, the buyer holds some degree of ambivalence around making a buying decision.  On one hand they want the promised outcome, but on the other hand, it is going to cost them something (money, time, energy, etc), so there is some fear and worry around making the right decision.

Emotions can either pull a potential client towards working with you or sway them in the opposite direction. Every word that you say elicits some sort of emotion, either positive or negative. Because of this, it is important to be mindful of using words that elicit positive emotions toward working with you and avoid using words that evoke negative emotions.

If you have bought an online training program, you’ve probably seen a “Full Pay” option on the check out screen.  This is to avoid using the words “pay in full” which people often think sounds like “painful.” Painful things aren’t exactly something you want to bring to mind in your sales process.

So here are 5 words to avoid and what you should say instead:

1) Buy

A lot of people use phrases like, “When you buy my service…” This makes your work sound very transactional. It puts the focus on the client giving you money. Instead, use phrases like, “When we work together.” This puts the focus on the relationship. This is very important for service-based entrepreneurs who are selling life-changing services, but also for any business owner that helps others.

2) Cheaper

Avoid using the word cheaper when you are talking about your products or services. The word cheaper brings to mind something of lesser value or inferior quality.  You don’t want potential clients to associate your services with inferior junk.  If you are down-selling something, use phrases like “This option fits within your budget” or “You might find this option more affordable.” This highlights the cost-effective benefit of your service without making it seem like a dismal downgrade.

3) Appointment

The word appointment sounds very formal and somewhat impersonal. It doesn’t do very much in the way of building rapport and relating to your client. Try using words like, “visit,” “session,” or “call.” These words make your meeting sound less clinical and more personal.

4) Contract

The word “Contract” really seems to intimidate people sometimes.  Speak with your small business attorney and ask him or her if it would be appropriate to refer to your contract as a “Work Agreement.”

5) Cost

Dunh, Dunh, Dunh … Here come the words that both parties dread: “Cost,” “Price,” and “Fee.” These words really evoke a lot of stress for both the buyer and the seller.  Potential clients are stressed out about how much money they are going to have to pay and business owners get all choked up when it comes time to state their fees. Let’s just say, there is a lot of negative emotions swirling around these words. Instead of using them, use the word “investment.”  This puts the focus back on the outcome that you’re helping your clients achieve rather than the painful act of forking over money.  This keeps both the buyer and the seller focused on their mutual goal of solving whatever problem the client has.

While you may think it’s just semantics, the meaning behind words is very powerful. The main thing to remember is to be mindful about the words that you choose and make sure that they really align with what you want to communicate. When you do this, you relate better to your prospects and when you relate better to them, they are more likely to do business with you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.


About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva is the founder, CEO, and visionary leader of BrightFire Women’s Business Network, LLC.

BrightFire Women’s Business Network is the premiere sales training and coaching resource for service-based women entrepreneurs who want to increase their sales, serve more people, and change more lives.

Feedback & Comments:

  1. Tiffany, I love these tips except for the “investment” word. It is SOOOO overused in internet marketing and always makes me feel like we are afraid of the “cost” word. I invest in stocks, I BUY a service or product. :-)

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Sue! I’m glad you brought up the word investment because I actually agree with you that it is very overused in internet marketing. I’ve written before about how internet marketers use the words “invest” and “investment” to guilt people into spending money with them or using it in regards to things that aren’t really worth investing in–that’s not what talking about here, though.

      I buy many things, too, but most of the purchases I make are investments. The only things that I just BUY are things like toilet paper which have no value beyond their obvious use. Pretty much any purchase of great value is an investment. My website, my clothes, my furniture, my vehicle, even the food I eat are all investments to me because I am planning to get great value out of them beyond face value. I see high-value products and services that are actually helping people beyond the sum total of the parts as investments.

  2. Great teaching points on the words that help people decide to “invest” in what they WANT vs scaring them to “buy” something NEED

    • Thanks, Jessica! Yes, there is a big difference between using fear and guilt to get people to buy vs helping them to appreciate the value that they are going to get when they invest.

  3. Tiffany, this points out how powerful language can be. Thank you!

  4. This is brilliant and really shows both the power of negative and positive words. I’m doing great with #1 to #4. I do like your added explanation of investment and I think I’m going to try this during my next initial intake and see how it feels and is perceived. In my case it’s “an investment in your health”


  5. “When you buy my service…” This makes your work sound very transactional. It puts the focus on the client giving you money. Instead, use phrases like, “When we work together.” Semantics matter so much – great examples

  6. Great suggestions, thank you for providing such great points and the ways to re-think those concepts.

  7. Your points about the words to utilize are excellent. The description in the comments you responded to about the word investment is over the top great!

  8. Your tips remind me of an experience I had: Once at an event, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Debbie Meyer of Home Shopping Network fame and I asked her about her secret to making so many sales … She put her hand on my arm and said, “Honey I never make a sale, I only ever offer an invitation to take action.”

    Another of our clients advises her tribe to never talk about cost, but to educate on investment. Just tweaking one word can make a huge difference in delivery and message!

  9. Tiffany,
    Word choice is so important. Your word is your honor and how you speak and frame information greatly impacts your bottom line.
    I enjoyed the exchange between you and Sue because I completely disagree about the word “investment” (although some people may overuse it, it’s completely applicable to my business). When my preferred clients choose to work with me, it is an investment in the future of their business. Without a clear strategy and concise words to turn prime prospects into paying customers, your business will likely not be as successful as it could be. I say this in all honesty and not to try to guilt anyone into anything. People are either willing to invest in their business or they’re not.
    Write on!~

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