Sales Worst Practices: Three phrases I don’t want you to say anymore

Quick update: I am tired and I missed a post this week.

Well, enough with that. Today, I felt like making a list of passive aggressive sales sayings that suck. My inspiration: I got hit with “checking in” today. Two days ago, a sales rep asked me if I “read some product specific collateral” he sent and I wrote back: “Dude, you really thought I would read that? Come on. Call me today and be a man.”Prospecting

Here are the three sales saying I don’t want you to say anymore:

1. “Just Checking in” — I am going to create a shirt: “Checking-in is for Wimps”.  Here is my tip: Use your brain and come up with something way more compelling than “I am just checking in”. I mean it. If you are about to check in, take a deep breath, study the prospect or call notes, and decide on what you want to say that has equal value to the buyer. When you check in, you are offering nothing and only taking. If this is a stalled conversation or you haven’t heard from someone, then send some arresting or thought provoking content instead. this works.

2. “I want to follow up and see if you got my (fax, proposal, email, etc)” — Dude please.Really? That’s why you are calling? Do you think that they didn’t get your email, phone call etc? (And don’t say: Well Craig, they may not have.) No, the buyer knows at that point that you are trying to break the ice in a really passive-aggressive, wimpy way.

3. “Did you get a chance to read…” — Is that really what you want to know? You sure? You want to know if I read something. You called me today to find out if I read something. Ok, follow along with me here:

-If they ask you to “send some information”, what they mean is: “Piss off”. There is a thing called the internet, they actually don’t need you to send something to read about you.
– Data sheets are used for paper airplanes. Sorry man. I know every sales person thinks they need it so the prospect “knows that they get” but they don’t read it. And besides marketing writes a bunch of marketing-words in there anyway so the data sheet doesn’t say anything.


Net-net, just Cowboy-up and have something meaningful to say…You want to be an equal of your buyer and you will never achieve that always “pussy-footing” around.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Well said! Only thing worse than “checking in” is to “circle back”- wtf?

  • Great article Craig,

    I read it with some shame and I am sometimes guilty. Thanks for this… it serves as a reminder to be more proactive and to spend my time in the right places….


    • craigrosenberg

      Don’t feel bad…I do it too…

  • Rich Wilhelm

    Craig, three alcoves in the sales Hall of Shame!

    • craigrosenberg

      Hall of Shame — I should have used that for the title

  • Jonathan Catley

    Would love not to hear these phrases ever again!

    Can I add in prospecting emails that have “I” in them? That’s all I ever get…”I wanted to follow up”, “I was checking in”, “I wanted to see if you had time…” Sales pros should try writing an email without using “I” and see how much of a better response they get! Should be about the buyer!

    • craigrosenberg

      so true, and a difficult exercise for most reps

  • trishbertuzzi

    I don’t blame the rep I blame their inept Manager who is not listening to what the rep is saying. Shame on them!!

    • craigrosenberg

      Trish: I would argue the manager wouldn’t notice even if they were listening!

      • trishbertuzzi

        Then that breaks my heart. BTW, next time you get a crappy call shoot me an email and I will cold call the VP Sales – sounds like a great prospect to me!

  • Barbara Giamanco

    Great post, Craig! Yesterday, I was hit with…”It looks like you are the owner of Social Centered Selling, I wanted to find out…blah, blah, blah.” Looks like? You don’t know? I won’t bore you with the rest of the lame message.

  • Dan

    Don’t check in, just “touch base” 🙂

  • James

    This all sounds great and it’s very funny to make fun of lame sales reps and all, but there’s not a lot of actionable advice here, quite frankly.

    Let’s take point number one, don’t call to check in, instead give them some thought provoking content. Okay, done. I’ve sent a prospect (that I’ve never spoken with before) a great thought leading blog post from our website.

    No response.

    Now what? According to point number two calling to ask if they got it is lame, so I can’t do that.

    And according to point number three, no one would bother reading our lame marketing material anyways!

    So now what!? Getting people’s attention is very difficult. I see a lot of jokes about what not to do, but as someone who’s living this every day, I can tell you that it’s not so easy to just man up and get a prospect to pay attention.

  • Pete Gracey

    Great post Craig….I’d add “what brought you to our site” to the list. Just a wasted question.

  • Mark Baer

    Craig, this is a great post and there are a lot of bad habits that sales reps develop to combat rejection from a prospect. I attended a recent Webinar by Peter Ekstrom on “How to Turn Cold Calls into Gold Calls” which I found very valuable to create attention and interest in a 15-20 second window of opportunity. Thanks for the post!

  • Rich Wilhelm

    got this one today from an Angies List rep. Three sentences for ….The Sales Hall of Shame!

    Hi Rich,

    Sorry I missed you today. I wanted to check in with you and make sure everything has been going well with your ad. You’ve been getting a good amount of activity on your profile, and I wanted to make sure that those clicks were converting to phone calls.

    Of course, I always have ideas that may be able to help you get more leads, so give me a call any time you’d like to brainstorm or strategize.


  • Zeeshan

    Well Craig, they may not have (really). On more than one occasion, mission critical emails were accidentally flagged in their spam box. A phone call to ascertain they have the docs, which they then retrieved and helped close the deal before quarter-end.

    But more importantly, do you really think every single prospect goes through each word, thinking ‘forget this, he used “I” in the email’…..the idea is to stay in front of the prospect when you’re in the early stages of prospecting.

  • Iwouldratherbeonthebeach

    How about suggestions of what to say instead???