10 of my favorite selling phrasesArticle added by Steve Lewit on September 24, 2012

Steve Lewit

Buffalo Grove, IL

Joined: February 27, 2008

My Company

My strategy is to deal with the selling barrier itself, creating a selling atmosphere that short-circuits any feeling of danger for the client, and therefore, any need to erect a selling barrier. No danger means no sales barrier.

We selling professionals are creatures of habit. When we find phrases that work well on sales calls, we tend to use them over and over again. Here are 10 of my favorites for you to enjoy, use, rephrase, or even discard.

Some selling techniques are aggressive and manipulative in their nature. When clients feel that manipulation, perhaps in the sense of being pushed, pressured, convinced, enticed, disrespected or cornered, they immediately sense danger. At that point, the fight or flight instinct takes over, and the client instinctively erects a selling barrier. They adeptly use all sorts of stall techniques and objections, which are geared to take power and control back from the sales professional. Now, the salesperson sees himself as the hunter, the prospect sees himself as the hunted and selling becomes a game of hide and seek, a battle of wits, a contest of technique against technique, where each person is trying to gain the upper hand on the other.

Traditional old-school selling teaches us to deal with the elements of the sales barrier in many different ways. My strategy is to deal with the selling barrier itself, creating a selling atmosphere that short-circuits any feeling of danger for the client, and therefore, any need to erect a selling barrier. No danger means no sales barrier. When that happens, selling takes on a different nature altogether, both in the aspects of client relationship and bottom-line results.

1. What would make this a good meeting for you today?

Every meeting starts this way. If you don’t know what would make the meeting great for your client, then you will be talking about what you want to talk about, not what they need and want to hear. There is nothing worse than a client getting the feeling that you are not listening to them.

2. Is status quo an option for you?

If it is, then your chances of doing business with these clients is substantially less, if not zero. People tend to stay where they are comfortable. If status quo is an option, then I would ask the client why they just don’t continue doing what they’re doing and make life easy for themselves?

3. Did I upset you in a previous life?

We all get difficult clients — clients who are a bit angry, obnoxious, demeaning, unfriendly, etc. When I get a client like this, I bring the meeting to a stop, take a moment, and then look at my client and say, “John, I feel like we are having a difficult time here together. Did I upset you in a previous life?” Clients then look at me and tell me what’s really going on, such as, “I’m having a bad day,” “My car broke down on the way here,” “It’s not you, it’s just I am so frustrated with all of this,” and so on. Once we’ve cleared the air, then we can get back to the meeting on better terms. Otherwise, I just bail out.

4. I give the pros and cons, you give me a yes or no.

Fair enough? When I sit down with a client, I make it clear that both of us have a job. My job is to give the pros and cons about everything, because everything has a pro and a con; their job is to give me a yes or no about whatever we are talking about, and ultimately to give me a clear yes or no on whether we are going to move forward together or part ways. By doing that, I don’t get the obligatory, "I'll think about it."

5. Don’t you think this meeting is a little premature and that you should be talking to your current advisor instead of me?

Many clients have advisors that they have been with for quite some time and with whom they feel closely connected. The best way to find out if they will leave this person and move assets to you is to send them back with, “John, you’ve been with Ed at Schwab for 10 years. That sounds like you have a lot of trust in him. Don’t you think this meeting is a little premature and that you should be talking to him instead of me? He may be able to solve this problem, and you are already comfortable with him.” I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of my clients that actually left and went back to their advisor. In 99.9 percent of the cases, they fight back and tell me all the reasons why they don’t want to go back. In other words, they sell me on leaving their advisor instead of me selling them.

6. How is all this affecting you personally?

Emotions always drive sales. Reasoning is part of the selling process, but it is not what drives people to change: it is their emotions. To find out how a problem is emotionally affecting someone, just ask this question: “John, when you think about the problems that you are describing to me, how does that affect you personally? How does it make you feel?” Your client will then share an emotion — it’s upsetting; it’s angering; it’s stressful; it’s worrisome. After that, it’s your job to relate everything in your sales process back to the relief of those negative emotions. Remember, no emotion equals no sale.

7. If you have enough faith in your current advisor to allow him or her to give a second opinion on what I recommend for you, I’m thinking that you should really be talking to him, not me. What do you think?

Clients who want to take your suggestions back to their advisor are basically telling you that they trust him or her more than they trust you. I act on this immediately and try and end the meeting by making the recommendation that they work with their advisor instead of me. Always send people back to the advisor who they tell you is going to be part of the decision process and end those meetings quickly.

8. I’m confused. Would you be nice enough to help me understand this better?

I don’t believe in mind reading or trying to figure out what my clients are thinking, so I get confused a lot. Interestingly enough, when I get confused, my clients try to bail me out of my confusion by giving me an in-depth explanation of what they are thinking or feeling. Typically, after they give me those explanations, they come to their own conclusion that their thinking is really confusing and that their decision making is somehow off track. In other words, they discover their own irrationality. I like that!

9. On your way home when you’re wondering if you made the right decision, which we call “buyer’s remorse,” what will you be thinking?

All consumers have some level of buyer’s remorse after they purchase something. I want to address that remorse while my clients are still sitting in front of me. Typically, I again bring up something they didn’t like and say, “John, everyone has some level of buyer’s remorse after they buy something. So, on your way home, you’ll be wondering if you made the right or wrong decision. And, you might also be thinking about those surrender charges which you really didn’t like. Do I need to worry that by the time you get home, you will have changed your mind?”

10. Is that a deal killer?

When clients bring up things they don’t like and get a little vehement or locked into that point, just ask them if the point in question is a deal killer or not. Sometimes, clients make things sound worse in their own minds than they really are. Likewise, you, as the sale professional, start to think that the sale is not going to happen. So, why not just put that on the table? Rarely will clients tell me that the detail they are concerned about is a deal killer. They will say it’s just something they don’t like. I then say, “Well, do you think we should continue, or is the fact that you don’t like that a show stopper and do we need to either part ways or go in another direction?” Now the clients feel in control of the meeting and will most often say to keep moving forward. They feel in control, but in truth, you are in control, setting the stage and keeping the meeting on equal footing, which benefits both you and the client.


Keep a log of your favorite phrases, especially the ones that just pop out in a sales call in a moment of inspiration or clarity. Then, review those phrases once a week. By doing this, your selling will become more systematic and more powerful. And, if you would, let me know some of your favorite phrases as I would really enjoy hearing (or using) them.

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