13 Words and Phrases to Avoid in Sales

Prospecting takes a lot of work. Once you have a prospect face-to-face or on the phone, don’t ruin a potential sale by using easily avoidable words and phrases. Certain buzzwords can be off-putting for prospects so much¬†that they seek services elsewhere.

Knowing which words and phrases to avoid when talking to potential clients can save the day instead of killing a sale. Check out the list below for the most common words/phrases that do not sit well with prospects:

1. “Customer”

While the people you serve are technically customers, this word is not very personable. Instead, use the word client because it places more importance on prospects, making them feel valued.

2. Acronyms

Most clients will not understand health insurance vernacular, especially acronyms. Therefore, it remains best to avoid them or at least spell out what they mean. Using language that only you know means you are not relating to your clients; you might embarrass them by making them feel incompetent.

3. “Commission”

Mentioning your paycheck to a client lacks class. Moreover, it reminds them that you get paid to help them with their insurance needs. As a result, they may think you only look out for your interests. More than likely, your client already knows you benefit from helping them, so it is best not to bring it up.

4. “I would like to…”

Avoid the first person as much as possible. It puts the focus on you and makes the client, again, feel like you only look¬†out for yourself. Instead, make the conversation customer-centric by creating a¬†sense of partnership with the client. Drop the I/you dynamic and become a we. For example, replace, “I would like to go through a, b, and c” with “To make the most of our time together,¬†let‚Äôs set a game plan ‚Äď a, b, and c.”

5. “Cheap”

Saying something is cheap is subjective. If you call an insurance policy cheap and your client disagrees with that observation, you have created an awkward situation in which you may have just lost a sale. Use the phrase: relatively inexpensive instead of cheap.

6. “Free”

Saying an insurance plan is free¬†will potentially lead to a frustrated client¬†down the road.¬†For instance, if¬†you present a¬†zero premium plan, do not¬†tell your client it is free.¬†Call it what it is –¬†a zero-premium plan.

7. “Buy/Purchase”

Though your clients must know how much they will pay for an insurance policy, try not to sound too pushy by using words like buy and purchase. Create a comfortable environment for clients by letting them know you are here to help and not corner them into a sale. Use words like enroll or invest. These words are more professional, and clients will place more trust in you as a professional.

8. “Maybe/Perhaps/Possibly/Probably” or “I don’t know…”

Words like these can make an agent look unknowledgeable or unprepared. However, if you¬†follow up these words with an action plan, you assure clients that you will do everything to help them. For example: “Maybe, but to be¬†sure¬†let me call the company¬†real quick.”

Likewise, if you do not¬†know the answer to one of their questions, applaud them for their thoroughness and deliver a plan of action. Example: “I don’t know, but that is a good question. If you give me a moment, I can make a call to find the answer for you.”

9. “Obviously”

This word can go one of two ways, and neither direction is good. Clients will think they do not need your services since the information you provide is common knowledge. Or, clients will feel insulted because you assume they should know something already. It is never a good idea to make a client feel incompetent. A filler phrase, such as you know, also has the same effect.

10. “Honestly”

Interestingly, the word honestly can instill a sense of distrust towards you because clients will subconsciously think you were not being honest with them from the start.

11. “Satisfaction Guaranteed”

Promising client¬†satisfaction¬†has become overused in the sales industry.¬†As a result, it sounds like an annoying infomercial, which effectually lowers an agent’s professionalism.

12. “Best-Seller”

While a product may generally be a best-seller, it does not mean it is the best option for your client. Make your clients feel like they have options instead of pushing them toward a product others have chosen. Avoid promoting something as a best-seller unless a client requests the most popular plan. 

13. “You should…”

Do not be too pushy and make your client feel cornered. Present all their options very clearly so they become informed to make the best decision for themselves. Guide them to the right choice, but do not push them toward it.

Now that you know what not to say to clients, let us look at some positive words to share with prospects.

1. Avoid 

People do not like missing out and will be more likely to take action to avoid missing a product or service. The term FOMO, which stands for the fear of missing out, is a phenomenon that arose in 2004 with the popularity of social media. The concept involves a person perceiving they are missing out and then acting to maintain social connections. Marketing strategists have used the word avoid in sales pitches long before social media entered the world. So, when salespeople utilize this notion, they potentially garner more sales by convincing clients to act.

2. Because

The word because implies that you have a reason for clients to buy what you sell. Sometimes, a salesperson gets apprehensive when conducting phone calls to potential consumers. Preparing your consumer pitch with the word because will strengthen your speech and boost your confidence. You know what the client needs and now you can accurately tell them why they need it.

3. Problem-Solver

When you speak to potential clients, you present a problem. People without adequate insurance have a problem. Ensure your clients understand that you have a solution to their precarious situation. Initially you don’t need to introduce yourself as an insurance agent.¬†You can start out by saying your job is a problem-solver.¬†You solve problems for people. Remember to listen closely to what your client tells you. Then, you will be able to accurately assess their situation and provide a solution to their insurance-need problem.


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We hope that this information on words to avoid is useful to you.

Empower Brokerage is dedicated to helping you make informed decisions about your health and finances. Whether it’s through webinar training, one-on-one calls, seminars, or marketing plans, we want you to be successful!

Give us a call at 888-539-1633 or leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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This article was updated on 5/1/2024.