As a writer, the importance of word choice in a sales pitch makes sense to me. But every new salesperson I’ve trained over the years has had the same question: “Why does it matter, as long as the customer understands what I mean?”

The short answer is: The words you use in your sales pitch impact the way the customer receives your message. Having the right message is important, but when you use words that undermine your credibility, then you make it harder to close the customer.

Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, your job is to solve problems for your customer. Wherever your sale takes place — social media, on the phone, through email, or in person — you must demonstrate confidence in your product. As a potential customer, why should I trust you to solve my problem if you’re not even sure about what you’re saying?

Remember: Confidence is contagious! Show your customers that they can trust you, and they will feel confident buying from you.

“Doubt words” are what I call the words and phrases that create doubt for your customer. In this post, we’re going to talk through the 13 classic examples of doubt words, how they impact your pitch, and what you can use to replace these phrases.

Doubt words do 2 things:

  1. Kill your credibility.
    Why should the customer trust you if you don’t know what you’re talking about?
  2. Discourage your customer from making a buying decision.
    Doubt leads to indecision, which inevitably leads to this classic objection: “I’ll think about it.”

Make a conscious effort to replace these doubt words in all your communication, and you’ll be amazed at how much more confident you sound.

Examples of doubt words:

  • I think
  • I believe
  • Not sure
  • I don’t know
  • Maybe
  • Perhaps
  • Possibly
  • Probably
  • Might

All of the words above function the same way: They tell your customer you’re not sure of yourself. You’re not sure of your product. If you’re not sure of what you’re saying, then you’re not qualified to solve their problems — let alone ask them to buy.

When you use these words to overturn an objection (e.g. “But can your product do XYZ?” – “I think so!”), you’re not actually answering their question. This kind of non-answer pushes your customer away, because it confirms that you’re just telling them what they want to hear.

  • If
  • Can/can be
  • Could

Words like if, can, and could indicate uncertainty. Replace these words with when and will.

A customer’s use of future tense is a huge buying sign. When he/she starts asking, “Will I be able to do XYZ with this?” then you know they’ve already mentally committed. They’re picturing themselves in the future using your product or service, and they want to know more.

Are you familiar with the idea of “mirroring” body language? It’s the idea that a person who likes you— without realizing it — will naturally imitate your movements. The same idea applies to conversations: When your customer likes you, agrees with you, or is interested in what you have to say, then he/she will repeat the words and phrases you use.

So do yourself a favor; throughout your pitch, give your customer the words you want them to repeat later. This is why I say confidence is contagious.

  • Um / Uh / Err…

I know you don’t need me to explain why this is hurting you. It’s lazy and comfortable, but it makes you sound unprepared. So the solution is: Know your product and be prepared for any question or objection that might get thrown your way. 


  1. To sell effectively, you have to be the expert on your product or service.
  2. Part of being the expert means being prepared for all common questions and objections.


  1. Next time you write an email, CTRL+F and look for doubt words. If the purpose of the email is to say “I don’t know,” then fine. If that’s not the message you’re trying to get across, then rephrase so you sound more confident. PSA: This applies to any email (not just sales).
  2. Brainstorm with a friend or colleague all the questions and objections you might get about your product. Write them all down. There really aren’t that many unique objections. Think through the best answers for each of them and practice your response.

One Comment

  1. Brandie Ash August 9, 2017 at 3:31 am - Reply

    What “doubt words” did I miss? Let me know!

Leave A Comment

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