6 Habits to Avoid During Sales Presentations, Part 1

There’s a lot of pressure when performing a sales presentation. You have to make sure you are hitting all your selling points and also must be connected to the prospect on a personal level. It can all become too much to handle at certain points and your good habits just go out the window.

Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid these types of presentations in sales. However, there are certain habits you can develop to ensure that future sales presentations go off without a hitch. Continue reading the first three most common habits that can make or break your presentation.

Do not start by apologizing.

Cold calling is hardly anyone’s favorite part of sales, but it is a big part. The key to successful cold calling, though, is confidence. If you randomly call someone and interrupt their day, you must be strong in what you say. With that being said, a surefire way to ruin your chances of conversion is by starting the call with “I’m sorry to bother you, but…”. Starting with an apology suggests uncertainty. Also, it doesn’t necessarily come off as sincere. Are you truly sorry about calling a prospect in hopes of making a sale? No. It’s your job and this is what you do. So, the apology does nothing but crush any confidence the prospect has in what you’re selling.

Do not use filler words and phrases. 

As mentioned previously, sales are all about confidence. You want to buy from someone who can explain in-depth why his product is better than the product a little further down the street. And that message has to come out clearly and without distraction. However, excessive use of filler words or phrases hurts your message.

Although it’s an unconscious habit to interject words and phrases, such as “like”, “um, “I mean”, and “you know” for a pause to maintain the listener’s attention, it has the opposite effect. The overuse of these filler words makes the speaker seem unprepared. With such important products as health and life insurance, customers want to purchase policies from someone knowledgeable and prepared to answer all their questions.

Dr. Lance Strate, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University in New York, says “There is no one reason for [the use of fillers], but nervousness is certainly one reason, which goes hand in hand with lack of confidence.” Just like apologizing, fillers indicate insecurity, and prospects don’t trust someone who doesn’t trust themselves.

While there are many filler words and phrases, the one that seems to have the most negative connotation is “you know”. It makes the speaker seem either unknowledgeable or condescending. Ending a statement with “you know” insinuates that this is such an obvious truth that your audience should understand. Since the listener supposedly understands anyway, the speaker uses it as an excuse not to offer a full explanation. In the insurance business, it is safe to assume that your client does not know.

Note of encouragement: If “you know” is a filler phrase you say often, you’re not alone! Even the greatest speakers fall victim to these dangerous habits. For example, President Obama and Caroline Kennedy who are both highly educated people in the public, and political sphere, use the phrase “you know” more than you’d think. If you don’t believe me, read this excerpt from Kennedy’s interview with the Times a few years ago:

“So I think in many ways, you know, we want to have all kinds of different voices, you know, representing us, and I think what I bring to it is, you know, my experience as a mother, as a woman, as a lawyer, you know, I’ve been an education activist for the last six years here, and, you know, I’ve written seven books – two on the Constitution, two on American politics. So obviously, you know, we have different strengths and weaknesses.”

In the full 20 to 30-minute interview, Kennedy says “you know” 142 times. Don’t let a bad habit, such as “you know,” distract your client from knowing how smart you are!

Do not avoid eye contact.

Since elementary school, we have always been taught to use direct eye contact when speaking with someone. It shows you are actively listening, instills trust, and is a sign of confidence on behalf of the speaker. If you constantly look down at forms, documents, your computer, or your phone rather than engaging with your clients, your discomfort will be obvious and rub off on them.

Additionally, avoiding eye contact can be construed as rude. If you’re rushing through a sales presentation and focusing more on getting your paperwork in order or answering emails, you aren’t giving your clients the attention they deserve. Especially in the insurance industry, people are trusting their agents to make the right choices on behalf of their health and their family’s wellbeing. You must get to know your clients and make them feel comfortable sharing their present circumstances with you before even thinking about pushing a sale. Give your full attention to the client and show that you genuinely care.


We hope that this information on habits 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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Updated on 4/10/2024.