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5 min read

Buzzwords & Clichés Holding Your Sales Team Back

Last updated December 6, 2021

Language matters when it comes to business. When it comes to closing sales, the power of words shouldn’t be underestimated – and that’s why it’s important to avoid cliché business phrases. When they hear the same old sales lingo again and again, your prospective clients will tune out (at best) and take their business elsewhere (at worst).

Sales phrases to avoid

So how can you ensure you don’t lose your leads? Keep reading for business jargon and sales buzzwords to avoid – and our pick for words that sell to replace them with.

Sorry to bother you

You might think that you’re being polite but uttering this phrase on a prospect immediately puts you on the back foot. Saying “sorry” makes it seem as though you have something to apologise for, and to say you’re bothering them implies that you have nothing of worth to offer. Instead of saying “sorry for bothering you”, focus on the benefits you offer and how you can add value to the customer.

Circle back

We’re all guilty of saying “let’s circle back to that” during a discovery call. But how many times do you actually ever come back to discuss the particular issue? If a prospective customer has heard this phrase before, and their pain points haven’t been addressed, hearing “circle back” from you might ring alarm bells for them.

Naturally, you’ll want to keep your agenda on track, but rather than using this trite phrase that might cause your lead to be wary, consider an alternative. You might want to say something like “I’ve made a note of that, can we come back to it at the end of the call?”. This way, you’re acknowledging the issue your prospect wants to discuss, whilst ensuring your sales process isn’t disrupted.

The key to getting your lead to trust you, though, is ensuring that you do “circle back” to their question and answer it as fully as you can – if not on the call, then in a follow-up meeting.

Low-hanging fruit

Not necessarily a phrase you’d use to a prospective client, this one is more often heard within sales teams. If you, as a sales manager, say to your team that a lead is “low-hanging fruit”, it can be translated as “I expect you to close this one quickly.”

That may well be true, but clichéd phrases can lose their impact. You might be better off emphasising what makes them such a good target. YouGov has found that the chances of selling a new product to an existing customer are around 50%, rather than 5-20% for new customers. So if you consider a prospect to be “low-hanging fruit” because they’ve already done business with you, then get your team to think about the best ways to take advantage of that – sure to be more successful than a vague, clichéd phrase.

Touch base

A survey by Glassdoor found that employees find “touch base” to be the most annoying office jargon, according to 24% of office workers. If employees find it overused, then you can bet that your sales qualified leads have also heard it a million times before.

When a phrase like this is used so often, it can sound trite and vague. Instead of saying something unspecific like “let’s touch base next week”, arrange a specific time to follow up by saying “do you have 30 minutes on Tuesday for a quick catch up?”. This will get your lead’s attention and ensures you lock in a specific time for closing a deal.

Hit the ground running

Have you ever finished a sales pitch by declaring that you can’t wait to “hit the ground running”? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – but it is one of those overused phrases that it’s best to avoid.

Next time, explain exactly how your product or service will benefit them as a paying customer, and the first steps are for your businesses to work together. It’s sure to get the attention of the decision makers when they hear specific details rather than another overused phrase.

Take it offline

Like “circle back”, this is often used when a conversation is going off-track – and like that phrase, it can also signal to your prospective customer that you’re trying to shelf an uncomfortable conversation. It can sound insincere, and unless you actually do follow up and discuss the issue at a later date, it could cause your sales prospect to lose trust in you.

Therefore, try to use an alternative without the connotations of “take it offline”. You could offer to follow up via email, therefore buying you more time to consider the issue if it’s a particularly thorny one.


This is one to avoid at all costs as it assumes that something is clear to your audience, when it may not be. Use this phrase and run the risk of making your prospective client feel stupid – not something you want when you’re chasing sales.

To be honest with you

Like “‘obviously”, this is a phrase that should never be said by a salesperson. It implies that everything you’ve said up until that point is a lie – which instantly undermines all the hard work you’ve put in building a relationship with the lead. Instead of saying this, simply try to show that you’re honest and genuine through your words and actions – remember, words are important, but actions speak louder.

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