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Talk like a human, not like sales copy

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

“Stop Your Sales Pitch; Start Your Conversation.” This quote was taken from Top Dog Sales Secrets by Michael Dalton Johnson, page 116.

At my age and experience, I think I am entitled to having a few pet peeves. Entitled or not, I have a few. Like it or not, you are about to hear them.

In addition to the regulars: saying “thank you” instead of “no problem,” and actually looking at the people you are speaking to, there are four business terms that make me cringe. This is not to say that those guilty of using these words are bad people or misinformed. These words just don’t have a place in my vocabulary. These words are close, as in “trying to close a sale.” Up-sell, as in “you buy this and I will immediately sell you something with a higher commission.” And overcoming objections. Who in their right mind looks forward to having their “objections overcome?” Certainly not me, and hopefully not you.

But there is a fourth word that conjures up thoughts of carnival-ism, slight-of-hand and insincerity. That is the word “pitch.”

Online Etymology offers this definition: pitch - “Something that is pitched,” Meaning “act of throwing.” Meaning “act of plunging headfirst.” Sales pitch in the modern commercial advertising sense is from 1943, American English, perhaps from the baseball sense.

I interpret the connotation as “I’ll toss a few ideas your way and you see if you can connect with a few.” i.e. the baseball analogy. I’ll keep throwing and you keep swinging. Something is bound to happen sooner or later.

I don’t want to be known as a pitcher. I want to be known as a sincere person who is serving up ideas you can understand, afford, use and benefit from. I want to present ideas you can hit for homeruns more often than not.

This is as far as I will go today on the topic of word choice, except for a reference to a very good short video clip below.

Let it suffice to say that the words you choose can make a huge difference when it comes to establishing meaning and reciprocating relationships. I choose not to use no problem, up-sell, close, overcome and pitch. What you choose to use to advance your career is entirely up to you.

I know I have referenced the following YouTube video in previous articles, but when it comes to choosing words to get your message delivered clearly, there is no better short clip than the following.

Mike Marchev, president of Head First Sales, is a featured Sales Motivational Speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. His column appears regularly in industry magazines and E-zines and he is the author of four books, the most popular being Become the Exception. Send your questions and comments to for Mike.