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Top 5 Worst Sales Clichés!


I can't take it anymore.  Sales clichés are all around me and I can't hide from them.  In meetings, on the phones, online, at home, in the elevator, everywhere I go where selling is happening I hear some sort of tired, overused, and slightly confusing sale cliché.  Over the last 2 months or so I've started making note of the real winners (by winners I mean losers) that I hear over the course of my day at AG.  

Before I assault these clichés via blog I feel it is important that I admit to being guilty of using several if not all of these over the course of a week here at AG.  I hate it, and a little part of me dies every time I say one, but there is just something about them.  It's like I have some unspoken quota for using them a certain amount of times in a week. I'm sure many of you reading this are guilty of using some or all of these, but don't feel bad. We all do it.

So, while it was hard to determine just which ones are the worst, I think I've managed to cull my list down to the 5 Worst Sales Related Clichés in use today. They are listed in order of least horrific to most horrific.  

5.  "I'll be out of pocket":  What?  Where is that exactly?  Do you live in a town called "Pocket"?  I am asking you if you are available to meet, what do pockets have to do with that?  Do you need pockets in order to meet with me? Do you need to be in a "Pocket" in order to have our meeting?  I'm sure there is a rational explanation to what this means and where it comes from, but I don't care.  I hate it (yet use it all the time!!!)

4.  "Land and Expand":  Yes!! This is a classic sales cliché. My Director of Sales, Chris Lang, actually has this copyrighted so use it at your own peril.  I get where you are coming from here.  You want to get your foot in the door and then expand your business relationship with a certain client.  I'm proud of you and wish you the best.  However, you are not Omar Bradley and this is not the Normandy invasion.  You are a sales person and it would be perfectly acceptable for you to use "grow the business".  But you can't just say that can you?  

3.  "Up to my eyeballs in alligators":  Graphic, strange, scary.  This one isn't used as often, but I never forget it when someone says it.  My business partner, Paul Alves, actually likes this one and is able to use it with a straight face. 9 years of me railing against it has finally caused him to use it slightly less frequently.  I guess my problem with this one is that it is over dramatic.  To be up to your eyeballs in alligators means that you are facing imminent death.  Your life is in grave danger and you need help.  To evoke this kind of imagery in response to "do you have time for a conversation" seems overdone.  If what you have to do at work over the course of a day makes you feel like you are surrounded by hungry man eating beasts then you should change jobs.  You could be happier.

2.  "Gone Dark":  We use this one to describe a decent prospect that has suddenly stopped responding to us. Much like "alligators" I find this one to be a little overdone.  To me, this means that the person you are talking about has somehow become evil, and that is the reason they have stopped responding to you.  It's a stretch. They most likely just don't really have an answer for you on your proposal and will contact you when appropriate.  I agree in great communication and you should get back to sales people when they reach out. However, I don't think they should classify you as evil if you don't.

1.  "At the end of the day":  For the love of Pete, stop using this.  What happens at the end of the day?  I'll be honest, the 4 clichés above I use from time to time (the alligator one usually just as a joke).  I don't want to, but they work and I admit that I use them. This one must be stopped. Typically it is used to close out a value proposition by a sales person.  Which I find hilarious.  Basically, they give you their great value proposition and then completely kill its credibility by saying  "at the end of the day it's about..blah blah blah".  If that is what you were really trying to say, why didn't you just say that at the start and save me the pitch.  The fact that it nullifies a value prop isn't my real issue with this one though.  This cliché actually breeds follow up clichés.  It's diabolical.  You can't possibly say "at the end of the day" without adding something like "it's a win win" or "we'll take it to the next level" or any other cliché you can find.  It seems so harmless, but when you factor in it's reproductive capabilities "at the end of the day" is by far my most feared and loathed sales related cliché.

Let's try using all 5 in one statement.  I apologize if this rips a hole in the universe.  

"Hi Larry, I'm so sorry to have gone dark on you last week.  I was out of pocket on vacation and completely up to my eyeballs in alligators upon my return.  I still stand by the Land and Expand strategy we set forth in our earlier conversation. It's the fastest way to revenue growth and at the end of the day that is a win win for both of our organizations."

Pretty good huh?? I deserve a prize! 

I would ask you for your top 5, but I honestly don't want to read them.  

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About the Author   |   Peter Gracey

Peter Gracey is co-founder and President of AG Salesworks. Peter is responsible for the day-to-day operations of AG Salesworks, making sure that our clients continue to receive the most optimized level of performance available. For more information on Peter Gracey, see here.

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