selling in English 3

Selling in English: 10 Words You Shouldn’t Say to Your Customers (and What to Say Instead)

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“Quality performance starts with a positive attitude.” –Jeffrey Gitomer

Have you ever met anyone who seems to be just a natural salesperson? Authentic, brave, always knowing what to say, approaching people naturally…

These people exist.

Still, most people don’t think of themselves as natural salespeople.

Even as a businessperson, many of us don’t like the idea of selling to anyone, especially not selling in English.

selling in english

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Talking to customers in English can be scary. Convincing them to buy can seem even more difficult.

You might be uncomfortable with the idea of talking to customers directly.

I know, it can be difficult to sell products. You have to be confident and know the details of the product and service to convince your clients.

Personally, I have worked in sales for years. My first job was in telemarketing, which meant calling potential customers ALL DAY. Can you imagine?

Along the way, I have learned something about how you can be confident while selling in English and I now know that you can learn to sell better, too!

Selling in English is necessary for any business

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” –George Addair

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Selling is the activity or business of selling products to customers.

Whether you want it or not, you will have to deal with customers. As businesspeople, we have to communicate with clients via email, over the phone, and in person. Customers are the reason you are in business.

You want to give a good impression of your company and your product. The customer might ask difficult questions. You want to avoid mistakes. As many customers as possible should buy from your company.

After all, we are all salespeople. So, it’s important to be able to sell in English.

Effective communication in English can help you sell more

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar

selling English

When you talk to customers about your products or services, effective communication in English gives you an advantage. You can say what you want and describe your product well.

Personally, I have found that practice and using keywords and phrases helps a lot. Being prepared makes you more confident.  

Language is a tool you can use to present yourself and your products effectively in English. You should be clear and use positive words to describe your product. Avoid negative and vague words and expressions.

English for Sales: Words & phrases you shouldn’t say to your clients

Here are 10 English words and phrases to avoid when selling in English, so you sell more.

1) (no) problem

Why should you avoid it?

When someone hears about a problem, it sounds like something bad happened. The word ‘problem’ subconsciously indicates a real problem for the listener.

Even if you add the negation “no”, the word “problem” stays. Hearing the word “problem” is negative. Therefore, it’s better to avoid it altogether.

What to say instead:

challenge, question, request, task

✘ Don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s any problem with your order.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your order.

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✘ No problem! I will look into it right away.

I will look into it right away.

2) would, could

Why should you avoid it?

Using these modal verbs is vague. ‘Would’ describes a possible action or event, meaning that it is not certain that it will happen.

Definition & uses of ‘would’

Instead, you should give a confident impression by using clear words when talking to your clients.

Consequently, using the indicative and saying ‘we will’ and ‘we can’ is a much better way to gain your customer’s trust. These direct forms show a commitment and an assertion from your side.

What to say instead:

will, can

We would need your payment within 7 days.

We will need your payment within 7 days.

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We could offer you a discount.

We can offer you a discount of $10.

3) but

Why should you avoid it?

The conjunction ‘but’ is used to contrasts two phrases or clauses. When using the word in a sentence, one phrase sounds negative.

Instead, you should keep an overall positive tone.

What to say instead:

and, on one hand … on the other hand

 It’s being moved to a new server, but it should be up again by tomorrow.

 It’s being moved to a new server and it should be up again by tomorrow.

4) expensive

Why should you avoid it?

Customers can have negative feelings when hearing this word. The word ‘expensive’ focuses on the money they have to pay, rather than the value or quality.

What to say instead:

valuable, exclusive

✘ This version is more expensive.

This version is more valuable.

5) competitor/competition

Why should you avoid it?

I don’t like the word ‘competition’. Not in business, not in life.

Why would you waste time thinking about competitors? In many industries, there are endless ways to distinguish yourself from so-called competitors, so you don’t have to worry about other companies as a threat. You should let your customers know that you don’t see similar companies as a danger to you.

However, your potential customers may ask you directly about your competitors. Then, you should know how to refer to other companies operating in your field.

Generally, it’s useful to avoid the word ‘competition’ because it’s can suggest tension, fear, or danger and is perceived as negative.

Instead, use more positive-sounding words.

What to say instead:

fellow business(es), player(s)

✘ We offer more specialized services than the competition.

We offer more specialized services than other major players.  

6) contract

Why should you avoid it?

Sometimes, when people hear certain words they immediately feel like running away. ‘Contract’ is one of those words. The concept involves some obligation. As a result, the idea of this commitment can be scary for your customer at first.

That’s why it’s better to use a different word for a contract IN SPEAKING, not in writing.

What to say instead:

agreement, arrangement

✘ Thank you for choosing us. I will get the sales contract ready by Monday.

Thank you for choosing us. I will get the sales agreement ready by Monday.

7) to cost

Why should you avoid it?

By saying what a service ‘costs’, you focus on what your customer is obliged to give you. In other words, what your customer has to give up. Instead, it’s better to focus on the benefit the customer will receive by purchasing your product.

What to say instead:

You are investing…

✘ Our most popular package costs $499.

✓ You are investing $499 in our most popular package.

8) not bad

Why should you avoid it?

Obviously, ‘bad’ is a negative word. It’s similar to using the word ‘problem’. Even though you add the negation ‘no’, the word ‘bad’ stays. Most of all, try to keep things nice and positive.  

What to say instead:

‘good’ or anything positive! Here are some ideas you can use:

15 Words to use instead of “good” in business

✘ As you can see, the performance of our online sales isn’t bad.

As you can see, the performance of our online sales is excellent.

9) cost/price

Why should you avoid it?

Talking about the ‘cost’ or ‘price’ of your products and service can be difficult. These words represent what the customer has to give and give up in return for using your service or product. You don’t want to scare off anyone by mentioning the ‘price’ right away.

What to say instead:

It’s better to say ‘investment’, ‘value’, ‘rate’, ‘worth’

✘ The cost of our most popular course is $799.

The investment for our most popular course is $799.

10) cheap

Why should you avoid it?

‘Cheap’ is often a negative word in business, it suggests low value. You don’t want to sell your customers anything ‘cheap’. It’s better to tell them that you have something to offer that is of value and comes at a good price.

What to say instead:

cost-effective, valuable, reduced, bargain

✘ Downloading our app is a cheaper option.

Downloading our app is a more cost-effective option.

word of mouth

“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.” –Mark Hunter

I understand that English for sales can be difficult and you might find it unnatural at first. Using these words is not about lying to customers. You are still saying the truth. These convincing words simply make you sound more confident and clear in English.

The right words make you and your customers feel more comfortable. As a result, your customers will trust you and are more likely to buy from you.

Know that it is absolutely possible to be authentic and sell more effectively at the same time. Pay attention to these words at work. After a while, replacing them with clear and positive words will come naturally when selling in English.

Remember: If you don’t sell, you are not a business. But of course, selling is easier if you truly believe in your products and services.

Call to action

Share a comment below: Which one of these phrases will you stop using?

Action steps:

  • Challenge yourself to avoid one of these words for 1 week
  • Put a little reminder in your calendar
  • Write the word(s) on a post-it on your computer to remind yourself not to use them
  • Practice, practice, practice 🙂

Happy selling!

Read also:

Business English Idioms You Should Know

5 Quick Tips To Improve Your Business English Writing

English Words To Say ‘Important’ In Business

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