To Be Honest With You

It’s a phrase we all hear a lot. You might even be guilty of using it yourself. I’ve used it, and learned the hard way why it’s so important to avoid.

I was running a quote for a new system for a client here in Naples, FL and was going over his options with him. He’s got a yacht outside, a beautiful car in the driveway, and you wouldn’t believe how gorgeous the house was! This was early in my career, and if I’m being completely transparent, I was a little intimidated by the guy. So, I’m in the middle of my presentation and
the client asks me a question and flusters me a little bit. I didn’t want to take long to answer, which was my first mistake because I should have thought about what I wanted to say and took my time, but instead I immediately start and say, “To be honest with you…” and not even
3 seconds later the guy goes “Stop!” I got that twisted feeling in my stomach, my eyes got big, and in my head I’m thinking, “What did I do wrong?!?!” After what felt like 10 seconds, but was probably more like one, he goes, “At what point have you been dishonest with me?” I’m
shocked and immediately go on the defensive, so I said, “Well never, I’ve been honest with you the whole time!” He responded with, “Well you said, ‘To be honest with you,’ which tells me at some stage of the game you have been dishonest with me.”

I only had to touch this stove one time, to remember not to make this mistake again. Was he being overly defensive and too literal? After all, I was being honest with him the entire appointment. Maybe he was, but at the end of the day it cost me the sale. I removed this phrase from my vocabulary, and have never had an issue like this since. Even if a client has
never responded this way to you, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t thinking it! This is one phrase you want avoid all together.


Don’t say the word “sign.” When you ask somebody to sign there is a negative feeling that comes along with it. Replace it with “authorize,” “indorse,” or “autograph” because there is a much more positive feeling associated with these words.

Avoid the “F” Word at All Costs… Financing

This is another word that has a very negative feeling associated with it. We’ve all had clients tell us “I don’t like to finance things,” “I never finance anything!” and other variations of this. People spend money for two reasons. One is to experience pleasure and the other is to escape
pain, so make sure the words you are using don’t create a painful feeling. Instead of “finance” or “financing,” use “payment plans.” For example, “We have a variety of payment plans, which makes making the right decision more affordable.” I learned this one from Charlie Greer!

Customer Vs. Client

I’ve called people my customers for years, and never thought twice about it, until recently. The last two times I’ve been out doing sales training for companies around the country the, “customer vs. client” debate has come up while going over my list of words to eliminate. I’ve got to admit after some deliberation, client does sound a lot better.


Tom Hopkins says, “Don’t say buy,” and if someone who has sold as much stuff as Tom Hopkins says not to say it, you don’t say it! Tom prefers “own,” and so do I.


Avoid the words price and cost. It’s better to say investment, and if you’re going to take a “down payment” or “deposit,” say, “initial investment” instead.


How do you feel about the word contract? Does it feel like you’re about to get stuck in something? Have you even been stuck in a contract you couldn’t get out of? So has pretty much everyone else! When you hear “contract” there’s a negative feeling, a fear! Our brains are wired to protect us from what we fear. There’s pain associated with the word and pain
stimulates fear, so when you say “contract” it creates a feeling of fear in the customer because they associate it with the feeling of not being able to get out of that past contract. Instead of contract use “agreement.” It has a much softer and positive feeling associated with it.

“I Need to Do ,” “I Want to Do ,” and “I Want to Show You ___

I hear this all the time when I role play with technicians. The fact is if you’re in someone else’s home and they’re paying you to be there, they don’t and won’t care what you want. You’re there for the customer, don’t tell them what you want, or need! Turn those “me” focused comments into customer focused comments. Like, “You’re gonna wanna do this,” or “You’re gonna wanna see this,” or “You’re gonna wanna get one of these.”

Never Tell Someone What They “Need” to Do

If you want to get someone good and irritated with you, go ahead and tell them what they “need” to do. This is especially true with alpha males and D, or driver, personalities. If you tell people what they need to do, they immediately go on the defensive. Instead of saying “You need to do __,” use something like, “You’re gonna wanna get a new one of these,” “You’re
gonna wanna get this taken care of,” or “You’re gonna wanna get this one too.” Yes, I know “gonna wanna” isn’t proper English, but it rolls off of the lips easier, and it’s how people talk. You’ve got to talk how people talk! These phrases are deadly, and have made me a massive, amount of money. It’s a little change, but it’ll make an unbelievable difference.

These are the 9 things “you’re gonna wanna eliminate” from your vocabulary. Pay attention to the words you say, and how each word makes you feel. Chances are if a word makes you feel a certain way, it’ll make your customer feel the same way.

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