customer relationship management

Replacements For 6 Clueless Sales Sayings


Last night, I was enjoying my favorite summer TV show, "America's Got Talent," on Hulu. A leather-clad dance crew with fire spewing shoes finished their clogging routine and the show cut to a commercial break. But instead of seeing the Ford "Speed Dating" commercial that I've just about memorized, the video player went completely black except for a small strip of text that read, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Click here to fix it." Really? You want me to fix your video player so I can watch more ads? Not even if you sent me a pair of fire spewing shoes! "Hulu, you have no clue."

The senselessness of Hulu's message would be the same as a salesperson approaching a potential customer at a networking event and whispering, "I have laryngitis. Here's my brochure. Would you mind reading my sales pitch out loud so I can save my voice?"

Ridiculous, right? Actually, it's not that far from the clueless expressions salespeople use with customers every day. The classic is: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions." (You've never done this, right?)

The worst thing about clueless messages isn't that they don't yield responses. It results in your customers losing respect for you and saying to themselves the same thing I did about Hulu. "Salesperson, you have no clue." It doesn't just trash the sale - it tarnishes your reputation.

It's time to replace the senseless utterances salespeople use so frequently with response-getting, respect-building, relationship-advancing articulations that help you make sales.

Let's start with the one I bashed above:

Clueless Saying #1: "I'm just checking in to see if you have any questions."

Why it's clueless: It's a smokescreen anyone can see through. You have to admit you don't really care if they have questions. You're just tired of waiting for them to respond.

Here's the clue: If you've built rapport, given value first, and truly left them wanting to buy, then you can keep it honest, simple, friendly, and confident.

Replacement: "Can I get an update?"

Clueless Saying #2: "Is there anything else I can do to win your business?"

Why it's clueless: It's an admission that you haven't inspired enough trust for the customer to level with you about their real reason for not wanting to buy.

Here's the clue: If your customer is hesitating and you feel there is some barrier you haven't uncovered and removed yet, ask an empowering question that invites them to create a "perfect world" scenario. Often, they'll reveal their hidden reservations, giving you the chance to provide ideas and answers that will help close the sale.

Replacement: "What one thing would you change about our product that would make it close to perfect?"

Clueless Saying #3: "Do you know what we do?"

Why it's clueless: A favorite opener at trade shows and networking events, this question is really a confession that you're probably not well-known. Bad way to start. But it's popular because it's an easy way to open a conversation with a stranger. The problem is that it puts the customer in an awkward position. 9 times out of 10, they'll respond, "No, I've never heard of you."

Here's the clue: The replacement for this one is simply to turn it around. It seems obvious, but very few salespeople ever ask it.

Replacements: "Tell me what you do." or "What business are you in?"

Clueless Saying #4: "Thanks again."

Why it's clueless: This is how all mediocre salespeople end their follow-up emails after initial meetings with customers. It's using false politeness in the hopes that gratitude will gain you favor. It's what you say to your plumber for removing the knee-high septic backup in your basement - not a customer.

Here's the clue: Customers don't want to be drenched in gratitude. They want you to help them make more money and be successful. Nix the hyper-thankfulness. Instead, end your emails with a confident question that keeps the conversation moving, or just ask for the sale.


"What's the next step?"

"When can you meet again?"

"What details need to be squared away?"

"Your thoughts?"

"How does that sound?"

"Ready to get started?"

"Fair enough?"

Clueless Saying #5: "Are you still interested?"

Why it's clueless: You already know the answer and it's "no." If they were truly interested they would have contacted you. Silent prospects are either not interested at all or more interested in something else.

Here's the clue: A better strategy is to give them new informaton or fresh ideas to consider.

Replacement: "Here's a new idea for you. Take a look and let me know what you think."

Clueless Saying #6: "Great to meet you. I'll give you a call."

Why it's clueless: The majority of salespeople use this expression to close a conversation with a new contact, but it's as meaningless as the standard greeting "How are you?" Essentially, it translates to: "We'll probably never talk again."

Here's the clue: Say goodbye to new contacts by giving them something to chew on. Challenge them. Leave them with a cliffhanger. Set them up for your next meeting in style.


"When I follow up with you tomorrow, I want your answer to this question..."

"I'm going to contact you very soon - be thinking about this..."

"If I could help you do [x], how much more [y] would you have? I'll call for your answer."

"I have a riddle for you. See if you can answer it before I follow up."

"When I follow up, be prepared to talk about yourself and hear specific ideas about how I can help you."

I challenge you to examine your entire sales process for meaningless messages. Remove them. Replace them with something valuable that differentiates you and continues the pattern of intelligence and providing answers.

It would have been so much better if Hulu had just said, "Something went wrong trying to play this advertisement. Congratulations! This commercial "break" is sponsored by Ford."

Maybe you have another Clueless Sales Saying or a better replacement than mine. Add your comment below!

What It Takes to “Get It"


“You get it." Ever heard a customer utter those words? Whether your customer says it or thinks it, those three words are the precursor to any customer relationship.

So how do you get your customers to get that you get it? There’s no trick, script, or system. You have to prove to the customer that you see what they see - that you fully grasp their perspective.

Eight years ago, I met a customer who had fired 4 providers before me. He found me via Google and asked me to give a pitch. He was willing to spend big money but said he fired his previous providers because they didn’t “get" what he was trying to do...

The man was a brilliant engineer whose company sold sonar imaging software. During our meeting he explained the details about his business and the goals that eluded him. But not being an engineer myself, I was lost in the techno-speak.

I wanted to help him, so I asked him to show me his software. “That was a first," he said.

I replied, “What do you mean?" He said I was the first marketer or creative consultant who wanted to observe his product before developing campaigns, promotions, and website content.

He took me to a control room and sat me at a computer hooked to nine monitors stacked three levels high, all flickering with waves of data. The system curved around me like the controls of a spacecraft. Enthusiastically, he began showing me how it all worked.

2 hours later, I had a cursory understanding of sonar imaging and how his system improved sonar data for nautical use.

But then a funny thing happened...

The man’s speaking pattern transformed from technical jargon to heartfelt conversation. He began sharing his ultimate goals for the business, his passion for his unique team, and how he began the company on a shoestring budget.

At this point, I didn’t have to “engage the customer." He was engaging me. I didn’t need to “sell" him. He wanted to buy. See the difference?

I began to understand who this man was and what was meaningful to him. Making money wasn’t his primary driver. He wanted to create something important - to use his imagination and intellect to contribute something to the world.

We spent the last hour of the day with a whiteboard. He shared ideas with me. I shared ideas with him. I knew his product and goals well enough by then to contribute real value to the brainstorming discussion. I offered a specialty he didn’t have - marketing and branding expertise. In less than a day, I had become a member of his planning team.

The appointment was over, but just before I cleared the security checkpoint exit, he said, “Thank you for getting it."

Notice: There were no sales barriers. No qualifying questions. No slick presentation. No need to close the prospect. I simply took the time to do what no one else had done - care, listen, see, understand, and contribute.

I went beyond simply selling a customer. I saw from his eyes, walked in his shoes, and shared his perspective of the world. When you do, your customer will award you with a slice of trust. And that slice is all you need, because people naturally equate a willingness to listen and understand to wisdom and selfless friendliness - two of the most scarce traits in the business world today.

Do you get it?

I’m sure you do! Perhaps you have an example similar to mine or a story that sheds new light on the topic. Add your contribution (or question) to the comments below!