14 Phrases A Sales Manager Should Never Use

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

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We train hundreds of sales managers and leaders on our Sales Management Training programme every year. When we ask them how they motivate their sales teams, we often here similar stories of how they build up morale and get their teams thinking about growing and advancing in their sales prowess.

But we sometimes ask them what they would NEVER say and what would be the implications if they did.

It gets them thinking, and a quick poll has come up with some of the things that they would shy away from.

See if you have ever caught yourself saying any of these phrases, or anything like them:

“That’s Not My Problem”

You might not think it is but saying so abdicates any responsibility you may think you have and kills off any respect your team may have for you.

It also makes the other person feel like a victim and that’s never good for morale.

“We’ve Always Done It That Way”

You may have done, but things may have changed in the last year or ten.

You’re basically saying that everything is OK the way it is, and change is just something that happens to everyone else.

“You’re Wrong”

That may be the case, but it doesn’t mean the person has to have their nose rubbed in it.

You destroy people’s ability to decide for themselves and their self-worth and self-esteem goes through the floor.

“You Should Have”

Yes, but they didn’t, did they?

Telling someone what they should have done in the past doesn’t mean anything, because there’s nothing, they can do about it now.

You can ’should’ all over them, but it won’t make one iota of difference in the future.

“I Know You Did Your Best, But”

This tells them that no matter what they try, nothing will be good enough.

They’ve tried their best and not been successful.

What does that tell them about their competence, and how does it impact their confidence?

“I Haven’t Had Time”

You’re basically saying that what was important to someone else wasn’t important to you.

You’ve blown all credibility with the other person and made out that your tasks are more important than there’s.

Even if you haven’t had time, it doesn’t help if you use it as an excuse.

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“Just Do What I Say Will You”

Your team probably don’t understand what is being asked of them and they certainly lack the buy-in to get it done. What would have been better is to communicate the importance of what is being asked and to talk about the consequences of not getting it done.

“Why Didn’t You Complete This?”

Using the word “Why” makes it feel like the salesperson must defend themselves. It’s an accusatory term to use as though you are guilty until proved innocent. Using “How” is a lot softer and you’ll most likely get a much more positive response.

“Good Job”

You might be puzzled as to why this is included in phrases not to be used but on its own it doesn’t really improve or achieve a great deal. After all, everyone is at work to do a good job. It’s much better if you are specific when giving feedback like this.

For example any good sales manager would say: “You did a good job in handling that challenging call earlier. You showed real determination and patience all throughout”

“Lisa Would Have Closed That Business”

Never make comparisons to others. It achieves nothing and Lisa didn’t close anything because she never had the lead! It doesn’t really motivate anyone, and it only shames the person.

“Don’t Worry, I’ll Do It Myself”

Said in the wrong tonality (if there is a right one that is) you will make your sales team feel guilty for putting extra burden on you. It will also send the message that you know best, and they are not capable of completing the task.

“That’s Your Problem”

How to alienate your team and make them feel all alone! Your team’s problems are your problems. There’s a say “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” That’s so true with this. Don’t shun accountability, share it.

“I Don’t Have The Capacity”

What this really means is that every single other thing is a priority, and your request does not count. What would be better is an explanation of why you are time poor right not and when would be a good time to cover things off. It’s easily done.

“Leave Your Personal Life At The Door”

The message that you are sending out here is that you don’t care. If you’re not supportive then it can impact their mental health, well-being, and their performance. Sales is a stressful occupation as it is without an unsupportive boss. A quick “Is everything okay?” is all it takes to start a conversation around it and is what most sales managers would do.

How many times do you think you might have inadvertently used any of these phrases or similar ones?

Be aware of the impression they may have on others and try to think through the repercussions of them if you do use any of them.
Words can be very powerful. They can turn others on or off like a light switch, so you need to be careful on the ones that you choose to use.

The Sales Manager’s Guidebook is a comprehensive free guide that can help you to improve your sales management skills. It’s split out into 3 volumes covering sales planning and target setting, how to lead and motivate your sales team and how to manage their sales performance. Please check it out. It’s free to download and thousands of sales professionals from all over the world have benefited from it.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

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Originally published: 1 November, 2017

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