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Eight Phrases Prospects and Clients Don’t Want to Hear

There are endless articles on what to say when meeting with clients and prospects. But just as important as what to say, is what not to say. One slip of the tongue and you’ve offended someone or tarnished your credibility. The following are eight phrases you should always avoid with clients and prospects. Sometimes, these phrases are used innocently, but can easily send the wrong message.

1. “I think…”  
This simple preface sounds as though you just had an epiphany — a moment of sudden insight off the top of your head. It doesn’t sound like an opinion backed by experience or high-level professionalism. A medical doctor would use a phrase like “I recommend” — you should too.

2. “Obviously…”  
Using a word like this implies that the client or prospect should already understand what you are saying. This can quickly come across as condescending. Consider replacing this with “naturally.”

3. “I’ll try…”  
Want to sound uncertain? Use this phrase. It reeks of a lack of confidence and indecisiveness. When was the last time someone told you they would try and do something? Did it happen? Probably not. Did you expect it to happen? Probably not.

4. “Trust me…”  
Red flag! Asking someone to “trust you” isn’t going to make them trust you. Shouldn’t they trust everything you say?

5. “Let me be honest with you…”  
So you aren’t usually honest? This phrase is a kissing cousin to “trust me.”  

6. “Hun, Sweetie, Darling…”  
Are we still in the 1960s? Watching too much Mad Men? While you may not hear these phrases much outside of the South, it happens. A lot of times it’s meant to be a kind gesture, but it can rub some people the wrong way. Not to mention, it can come across as patronizing, especially in a business setting.

7. “Now, Listen...”  
While you might be trying to make a major point, this preface is way too directive. It’s like telling your kids, “eat your vegetables.”

8. “Let me make things simple…”  
As opposed to complex? Again, an innocent phase that can come across as condescending. It implies that your client or prospect cannot understand complexities.

If you’re guilty of a phrase or two in the list above, that’s okay. The first step is being aware of the blooper. The next step is to make a conscious effort to avoid its usage.

What other phrases or words should you avoid with clients and prospects? We’d love your input.

If you enjoyed this article, don’t miss our new YouTube show, The Stephen and Kevin Show, featured on It’s fueled by advisor questions from Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to answer a question from you for the next episode — just use #AskStephenAndKevin.

Stephen Boswell is the COO for The Oechsli Institute and co-author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors. Kevin Nichols is the Director of Coaching for The Oechsli Institute and co-author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.

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