Positive words promote positive feelings. Negative words promote, well, negative feelings. Simple concepts, but when trying to close a sale many salespeople use seemingly innocuous words in their pitches that frequently kill the possibility of a sale.

Award-winning sales, management and customer service speaker and trainer Laura Laaman shares six poisonous words in her column Your words--are they positive or poison? and offers a few positive replacements including:

Contract -- Salespeople like this word, but customers see it as something binding. Try "agreement."

Sign -- "Sign on the dotted line" -- who likes that? Try getting a customer's "approval" instead.

Buy -- It's the most painful part of shopping -- shelling out the money. Try promoting the benefits of "owning" the product instead.

No -- Laaman says this word puts a "speed bump" into the sales process. She offers a few alternatives for using "no" in her column.

Using positive words is certainly a kinder, gentler way of making a sale, but as the Oct. 2003 Inc. story "Getting to No" illustrates, having a few rough edges in your dealings with customers can sometimes pay off. Y2 Marketing has a decidedly aggressive approach to sales calls, often telling customers they're just plain wrong, which puts to the test that age-old adage "the customer is always right." And it seems to work. The company has made the Inc. 500 two years in a row now.