7 overused words you should avoid

Joanne Black

It has been said that cursing shows a lack of vocabulary. Maybe so, but I find buzzwords to be even more uncreative and obnoxious. And in Sales 2.0, buzzwords are flying around as frequently as bees in summer.

A buzzword (a term first used in 1946 as student slang) is a word or phrase used to impress, or one that is fashionable, according to Wikipedia. But you don’t need buzzwords to impress your clients, who are probably just as sick of hearing them as I am.

Just because a celebrity or well-known business leader coins a new phrase, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Why would you want to sound just like everyone else anyway? Success in selling is all about relationships, which means your personality is an asset. So be unique. Or at the very least, don’t be boring.

Here are seven words I’m tired of hearing:

  • Trigger events: Overused and tired, this phrase is not even about a gun, so I find the analogy disconcerting.
  • Disrupt, disruptive innovation, disruptive technology: These seem to be the fashionable phrases from 2013, and I say we leave them there. What does disruptive innovation really mean? Innovation is something new, something we haven’t seen before, so tacking an adjective before it is nonsensical.
  • Lift: In many parts of the world, this is an elevator.
  • Alignment: Sounds like a really nice idea, but I doubt it will ever happen. A new breed of consultant has emerged to tackle this sticky issue.
  • Low-hanging fruit: Unless you’re a farmer, this makes no sense.
  • Value-added: I have no idea what this means. Each customer makes that determination for himself.
  • Drinking the Kool-Aid: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I remember the tragedy that happened in Jonestown all too well. That was a terrible time in our history, and using this phrase is gruesome. Find another word, please.

I admit that I’ve been using some of these words. I’m going to stop right now. How about you?

Joanne BlackAmerica’s leading authority on referral selling, is the author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust.

Category: Communicating
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