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5 Sales Phrases to Avoid When Calling an Inbound Lead

Bringggg… bringggg…

You glance at your phone and see a strange number calling from a non-local area code. You mull over whether or not to answer the call, and at the last possible moment (and on the final ring, of course) decide to quickly answer it. Immediately you regret your decision.

“Whyyyyyyyy?” you whine in your head. You know better than to answer these types of calls.

You remind yourself you were taught to be respectful, and dutifully entertain the salesperson for a few brief moments. At each available opening you politely interject with a “No, thank you,” or a “not at this time,” when you really want to shout “LEAVE ME ALONE!” Unfortunately, your courteous gesture backfires and you’re hit with an annoying persistence that leaves you no choice but to abruptly hang up the phone.

As you get back to what you were doing, you promise yourself that next time a mysterious number calls you won’t be so kind.

Abort, Abort!

We’ve all received calls, similar to the one above, and known right off the bat we were stuck listening to a sales pitch. What made our intuition so strong? Let me introduce you to the yuck factor – that skin crawling, gut reaction you get when Sleazy McSleaze begins his sales pitch. As a salesperson, it’s important to avoid crossing into that yuck factor, whether your job has you stuck in a call center or you’re making your first interaction with a new inbound lead.

Coming to Media Junction from a company who mostly practiced cold calling and outbound tactics, the phrases below are the handful I was most guilty of using. If I could turn back time (in full Cher vibrato, of course) I wish I would have done a bit of research first. Turns out I’m not the only guilty party – these five phrases are some of the most common used by salespeople. Together we can stop the madness!

5 Sales Phrases to Avoid When Contacting an Inbound Lead

1. Do you have a minute?

Automatically your buyer can respond with a no, and where will that leave you? Also, can you really promise that you are going to take up only 60 seconds of your buyer’s time? That said, this isn’t the worst offender on the list, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do better.

2. How are you today?

Unless you know me personally, why would I tell you about my day? It’s not only a generic opener, it's an easy red flag to the buyer that you are trying to get something out of them. Try to avoid coming across as overly familiar, while you and the individual on the other end are still complete strangers and save an opener like this for after you’ve developed an actual relationship.

3. I just wanted to...

It usually follows with a “check in” or “see if” and it continually indicates to your buyer that you a) have no real reason to be calling and b) are only catering to your own needs and your own timeline.

4. Are you the decision maker?

How belittling to someone who isn’t! Being direct is a good thing, but asking someone a question like this without building any rapport is a big no-no. And let’s not forget that, in this day and age, many companies have a collaborative decision-making process. Not just one person is the sole decision maker.

5. Honestly, I…

Hold up. As a buyer, I would instantly question when have you not been honest with me? Or is it you’re not being honest when dealing with others? Pete Caputa, HubSpot’s Vice President of Sales, affirms this is indeed the worst phrase you can say to a prospect. His request, and mine as well for that matter, would be if you are lying as a salesperson, do all of us a favor and stop. Moreover, being dishonest does much more harm than good to you and your company, not to mention the person you’re trying to deceive.

Don’t Want to be Hung up on? Add Value!

As an account manager, it’s my job is to be a trusted advisor and support my clients throughout their buying journey, provide recommendations tailored to their unique situation, and advise based on my professional expertise. Old sales tactics and legacy approaches are dead. Today’s buyer doesn’t want to be bothered with scripted cold-calls or pushy ultimatums.

Sales is (and always should be) about building relationships, not about satisfying one’s personal agenda. In fact, Demand Gen Report found 95% of buyers ultimately chose a solution provider that provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.

It’s a guarantee that if you implore any of the above sales phrases in your daily prospecting you will not only put a bad taste in your buyer’s mouth (and sound his or her yuck meter), but likely lose any potential business. Pete Caputa confirms, “Stop saying certain words and phrases that signal you're there to sell something. Instead, use every word you say to portray that you're an expert who is graciously and generously making yourself available to help them.”

Want to learn more about working with your inbound leads? Let's Talk

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