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4 Terms You Should NEVER Use with a Prospect

4 terms you should never use with a prospect

There are certain terms that salespeople should avoid when addressing a prospect, especially if it’s one of our first engagements with them. Yet, so many salespeople don’t refer to their prospect in the right way. Of course, the way in which you address a prospect is often dependant on various factors but it never hurts to be professional and use ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ or ‘Mr X’ or ‘Mrs X’. Addressing a prospect in the wrong way can really put them off working with you.

What are some of the terms you should never use with a prospect?


Calling anyone aside from your partner ‘love’ can be seen as being offensive and disrespectful. In parts of the country of course, calling strangers ‘love’ is the norm. However, it should NEVER be used with a prospect. You don’t know how they might react to being addressed in this way so avoid using the term all together.

“Buddy” and “Fella”

“Buddy” and “Fella” are two terms you should never use with a prospect. I was called ‘buddy’ on the phone recently by someone I was speaking to for the first time. My response was “my name’s not Buddy, my name’s James.” I did not appreciate being called buddy by a complete stranger and I’m sure I’m not the only person that feels this way.

The same goes for the term ‘fella’. Quite often these terms are used in a casual manner, but this is business, it’s not casual so address your prospect using their name!


We all use the term ‘mate’ when talking to strangers now and again, but is it the right term to use with a prospect? No! Unless your prospect is so far down the line that they’ve become a friend of yours, the term ‘mate’ should be avoided.

So what terms should you use to address a prospect?

Depending on your industry, Sir and Madam may be slightly too formal, so I’d recommend using ‘Mr X’ or ‘Mrs X’ on your first engagement with a prospect. I’d do this even if you know their first name, out of respect. You’re not yet on first name terms. On the second call with a prospect, it is likely to be more appropriate to use their first name, as you’re beginning to build a relationship with that person.

What is your opinion on what terms are appropriate to use? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are there any other terms you should never use with a prospect? Leave a comment below!


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James White
James White

James White is the UK’s leading prospect conversion expert. He understands what it takes to convert leads into real business within the modern digital era and what it takes to achieve business success.