Every time we share this technique with our sales training clients in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Calgary, we get an interesting reaction.  Salespeople ask themselves why they didn’t learn this communication tip years ago.  We all make the mistake of saying BUT when trying to explain ourselves, not thinking of the true message we’re sending.  Here’s how to correct it starting today…

Read these statements

“I can appreciate how you feel, but if you consider the value of our product over the competition…”

“I know you were really hoping for delivery before the weekend, but we’re short staffed…”

“I understand that you’d like to pay a lower price, but consider the options on this model…”

Here’s the message received

“I don’t appreciate how you feel.  Let me set you straight.”

“I don’t care about your desire to have delivery before the weekend.  It’s not possible.”

“Stop being cheap.  You get what you pay for, OK?  If you want the upgraded model, pay the price for it”.

One small BUT

One small word can change the entire meaning of your message.  BUT is negative and condemning.  It makes the statement before it insincere and patronizing.

It makes the person you’re communicating with feel like you’re agreeing with them one second and then contradicting yourself the next.   Know that everything you say before the BUT when used in this context has no credibility.

Let’s face it.  You have been using the word BUT for a very long time and you’re not going to break the habit overnight.   It might seem like an impossible task to remove it.  You will catch yourself using the word, and suddenly stop, thinking I did it again!  Awareness is the first step to eliminating it.

Everything before the BUT is BS – How to Stop Using It

Professional Salespeople pause after the first statement.  They surgically remove the word BUT and start the next statement.

“I can appreciate how you feel.  (Pause) Consider the value of our product over the competition…”

“I know you were really hoping for delivery before the weekend. (Pause) We’re short staffed…”

“I understand that you’d like to pay a lower price. (Pause) Consider the options on this model…”

Slow down and mean it

Deliver the first statement with sincerity for the customer’s feelings.  Don’t just give it lip service.  Take a long enough pause between sentences for added impact.  Add the appropriate facial gestures.  Practise this in the mirror a few times and take it for a test drive.  Are you buying your reflection?

What a difference!

This is the sign of an Professional Salesperson and expert communicator – tact and diplomacy.  Customers won’t even know that you left the word BUT out.  They certainly hear it when it’s back in.

Five Steps to cut the BUT out

1.  Acknowledge your use of the word.

2.  Make a commitment to get rid of BUT

3.  Practise the statements above in the mirror without it.

4.  Stop yourself in mid-conversation.  Correct yourself when using it (not in front of customers).

5.  Agree with a friend to catch each other when using BUT.

The 5th Step works extremely well.  Make a bet with a co-worker for lunch.  Whomever uses BUT the most buys lunch on Friday!  The competition between the two of you will have the problem solved in no time.  No one wants to lose a bet.  No one likes to be corrected repeatedly for the same mistake.

When you master this skill, your rapport and trust with customers increases because you are showing empathy and concern for their feelings.  Always remember – people are entitled to feel the way they do based on the information they have.  It’s your job to be the educator.

Don’t Stop There!

Don’t just use your newfound skill on customers.  Removing BUT from your dialogue works in everyday communication with staff, colleagues, friends and family.  Sincerity is one of the greatest qualities you can be known for in your relationships with people.

What do you think?  We’re always interested in hearing your opinion in the comments section below.  If you liked this post, share it on your favorite social media platform.

Great sales techniques like this one are taught in our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator and our book SHUT UP!  Stop Talking and Start Making Money.  Click the links and start making more sales today!





Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY