You know from your own inbox that professionals receive a lot of sales emails every week. Most of these are rife with clichés that do little to advance a possible deal.
If you’re sending out cliché-ridden emails, you’re not doing much to help yourself. Maximize the effectiveness of your communication by eliminating the following phrases:
1. “Just checking in” and “Let’s touch base”
Salespeople frequently suggest checking in and touching base—but how often does this language yield real results?
A salesperson saying that they are “just checking in” often feels disingenuous. Presumably, you have a very specific purpose in contacting a prospect. Don’t beat around the bush. Instead, tell the prospect exactly what information you want to convey and ask direct questions. The subject line of your email should reflect the specific topic you want to discuss.
When asking for a follow-up response, specificity is also critical. “Touching base” can mean any number of things. If you want to schedule a phone call, say so. That’s much more actionable than a vague suggestion to “touch base.”
2. “I completely understand how you feel”
Many salespeople use this phrase when they want to demonstrate empathy towards prospects. Unfortunately, it’s not actually productive and many times feels dishonest.
Think about it from the reader’s point of view. Many prospects, upon seeing that language, are naturally inclined to think “You don’t understand how I feel! You’ve never been in this situation.” And they’re exactly right. You don’t know exactly how the prospect feels and shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
As an alternative, show that you understand your prospect’s feelings by thoughtfully addressing their concerns. You might flag their emotions by saying “I understand that you’re feeling frustrated” or “This must bring up a lot of anxiety for you.” That signals your awareness of the prospect’s feelings without extending an exaggerated claim of empathy.
3. “I thought I would reach out”
This phrase sounds casual, but it’s really just fluffy. Obviously, you are reaching out—otherwise you wouldn’t be contacting the prospect!
The fundamental problem with the phrase is that it reveals nothing about your specific reasons for contacting the prospect. Oftentimes, it feels like fishing for attention.
Avoid this trap by clearly stating your reasons for reaching out. For example, you might ask, “Are you still interested in discussing x? We can arrange to do that.” By getting straight to the point, you’re signaling that you value your prospect’s time and are a straight shooter.
4. “I hope you’re doing well”
In some circumstances, it might be okay to use this phrase. Usually, it works best when the salesperson has already established a relationship with the email recipient. But for cold outreach emails? This phrase needs to go.
The problem is that it implies a level of personal connection that does not yet exist. Prospects can see through this. It can even be perceived as pretending to be familiar when you are not. If you want to create a genuine connection, avoid the phrase.
5. “If you need any further information, feel free to contact me”
While this doesn’t sound completely terrible, it is usually unnecessary, especially when you’ve listed your contact information in your signature. Don’t waste precious words in your email reiterating the obvious. The invitation to talk is also very open-ended, and therefore not particularly useful.
If you really want to talk with the prospect, then you need to solicit contact much more directly. Ask, “Would you be interested in discussing this further with me on the phone?”
6. “Our product is best-in-class”
You may believe this to be true. The problem is that everyone says their product is best in class. Prospects who are inundated with email know this very well.
So don’t just say that your product is best-in-class. Prove that it’s true by discussing features and benefits. Offer supporting evidence such as industry awards, customer testimonials, and data that illustrates product benefits. This is much more powerful than an empty “best-in-class” claim.
7. “Let’s get a dialogue going”
Like other cliched phrases, this is far too vague to be useful. The word “dialogue” can feel like business jargon and doesn’t reveal anything about what you actually want to discuss.
Most business professionals are far too busy to engage in poorly defined “dialogues.” Ask pointed questions to evaluate whether the prospect is interested in talking with you further.
8. “To be honest with you”
At first glance, this seems like a good phrase to use when communicating with prospects. You want to prove you’re honest, right?
Unfortunately, saying this explicitly can actually lead the prospect to question your honesty. They might think, “Wait! You mean you weren’t being honest with me before?”
This phrase may seem like a good way to break the bad news to a prospect, but it doesn’t generally have that effect. Demonstrate your honesty by telling your customers the truth without trying to sugar-coat. Once they see that you’re being honest, they’ll be more likely to trust you.
9. “Are you the decision-maker?”
Salespeople naturally want to know more about the person they’re speaking to and where they fit into the decision-making chain. However, explicitly asking someone if they’re the decision-maker makes you seem mercenary.
In today’s corporate environment, there is rarely a single decision-maker. Accept that going in and work on building trust with every contact. Ask questions to learn more about their position and who else within the organization might play a role in the purchasing decision.
Get into the habit of checking sales emails for these terms and whenever you see them, make liberal use of the DELETE key.
Instead of relying on empty phrases, provide prospects with specific and relevant information. Ask them to talk with you directly rather than rely on wishy-washy invitations. If you do that, you can move towards closing the deal.