25 of the Most Powerful Sales Words [2019 Update]
We first published this article in 2016. In 2019, we updated it to include new research and advice for sales teams.
If you’re a savvy marketer, you’ve probably spent significant time reading through top sales books like: “Words that Sell,” “More Words That Sell,” and “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Many of these books seem to promise a magical combination of words in the English language that leads to enormous success in business.
Well, as a savvy marketer, you also know — it’s never that easy. The good news is that identifying words that increase conversion rates is not a shot in the dark. Marketers have been executing A/B tests for years, and patterns have emerged that you can take advantage of.
Most people think they are immune to “powerful words,” but it holds true that the persuasive power of certain words can indeed shift behaviors.
As Seth Godin puts it:
“The lizard brain is not merely a concept. It’s real, and it’s living on the top of your spine, fighting for your survival. But, of course, survival and success are not the same thing.”
The following 25 words play directly to the lizard brain. That is the subcortical and limbic areas of the brain. Our most impulsive instincts originate from this part of the brain, and creating impulses is a marketer’s dream.
1. Free: The most powerful four letters in marketing. Nothing short of a conversion god, free never loses its power.
2. You/Your: Everyone cares deeply about themselves. Play into that penchant and emphasize that it’s about them.
3. Now: Creating urgency is critical. Use now in headlines to drive higher CTAs.
4. Results: In an online world where everyone questions quality, results have become less reliable. Use results to confirm benefits that are long-lasting and concrete.
5. Health: No one wants to die. You stay alive by staying healthy. People will be interested if you can help them understand and apply new wellness tactics.
6. Safety: Like poor health, no one wants to be in danger. Using the word safety could trigger emotions in the human brain that are associated with the last time the person felt in danger. If you can then deliver a solution to curing that emotional anxiety, you have a winner.
7. Urgent: Like now, urgency implies that something is limited. Humans care deeply about losing things – sometimes more than gaining them. If they don’t act urgently on your offer, they might miss out.
8. Proven: This is another juxtaposition you can use against a consumer’s concerns about the internet being full of unproven things. Show supporting data that your solution works. The word proven can reduce their anxiety.
9. Discovery: Humans are naturally curious creatures. Create something remarkable and new and then share the discovery. Folks want to make sure they know what’s new. It keeps them in the know and in the game.
10. Save: Like grandpa. Steady and reliable.
11. Money: Everyone wants it. Most people need more. Use sparingly.
12. Love: There’s never enough of this in the world. Give it lavishly.
13. New: Humans naturally get bored. New cures boredom. Always a plus.
14. Easy: Better than hard. Make the experience easy. Make everything as easy as possible.
15. Guarantee: This word is a chief anxiety reducer. Use sparingly in most uncertain times.
16. Perfect: We are all looking for that perfect pair of jeans or quintessential item we want to use over and over again. Using perfect convinces people to purchase a specific product or service rather than accumulating several lesser versions.
17. Customize/Personalize: Everyone is different, so why would everyone want the same thing? Subscription services like MeUndies and FabFitFun as well as many SaaS bundles offer customization options for customers.
18. Exclusive: This evokes something rare and fleeting – which top sellers usually pair with “offer” or “collaboration.” Since many humans tend not to want to go with the masses, this word helps us feel like we don’t match everyone else.
19. Only: Highly versatile sales word. Can suggest a limited offer (e.g., “only for this weekend”) or that it’s a steal of a deal (e.g., only $X!).
20. Hurry: Using this word might make a consumer pause and look more closely if a particular price or product is available for a limited time. It can increase the chance of an impulse buy.
21. Discount/Sale: Need we say more?
22. Surprise: We genuinely like it when companies get creative. If they have a surprise new product or offer, we want to find out what it is and be wowed!
23. Limited: Similar to “now,” “urgent,” “hurry,” “only,” and “exclusive,” “limited” suggests there aren’t very many of the items or deals available. It makes consumers rush to obtain it fast before it runs out.
24. Deserve: Self-care is a big thing for our day and age. We want to feel like we deserve to treat ourselves, and it’s always nice to feel that others are validating our decisions.
25. Celebrate: Celebrations tend to ease people up. We might spend more money if we are celebrating a special occasion or holiday.
Boom. You’re now armed and dangerous. Get out there and sell to the world! Use these words in all forms of sales and marketing – from email marketing to Facebook and social media marketing to video marketing. The sky is the limit when you have the right tools.
Don’t forget to tell us how it goes in the comments below.