In the corporate world, it is a rarely spoken truth that business language can be boring. We’ve all had a Charlie Brown moment. That feeling of struggling to keep your head from hitting the table as your capacity to pay attention completely leaves you and the voice of the person speaking becomes a stream of muffled noises.
The trouble is that we all speak our own special brand of jargon. We are so fluent in this jargon that it becomes a part of everyday language to the extent that we barely notice it. It is not until we meet someone else, who speaks a different kind of jargon that communication error occurs: malfunction this message has not been received or understood.
Such failure to communicate is a significant fear for any salesperson, yet over-complication of the sales pitch abounds. In a highly competitive market, conveying the benefits and differentiators of your offering is crucial. Articulating value is no small task and all too often salespeople get lost in jargon that sounds impressive but fails to make the connection. The best way to avoid getting tongue-tied is to focus on two key things.
Break the coding habit
There is a fine line between speaking your customer’s language and using terminology to try and create an elevated sense of self-importance. Never assume that simply because you are meeting with a representative of certain department that they will want to talk exclusively in their own personal code. Today’s meeting might be with the HR Director, but they still need to describe your business to the Sales Director and maybe even the CEO, and that means that your pitch needs to be universal.
- Getting caught up in your internal jargon will simply induce the glazed look of incomprehension. Your offering needs to simply do what it says on the tin. Ensure that your language is translatable beyond the boardroom.
- Product-speak isn’t necessarily banned, but full scale technical diagrams can wait. Your customer wants to know what you can do for them; they don’t want to use a dictionary to find out why they should buy from you. Keep it simple.
The art of conversation
It can be tempting to try and cover every possible angle; arriving at your meeting with a brochure written for every possible job role and laying it in a neat pile at the feet of your prospect. The likelihood, however, is that your lovingly composed brochures are destined either for the recycling bin or a place in the file of no return.
- The important fact to remember is that your customer has proposed a meeting for one simple reason; because they want to talk. This makes selling through brochures risky and more likely to disengage your prospect.
- A meeting is the time to use your questioning and listening habits to establish where your solution actually fits and to present based on needs, not generic flow-charts.
Despite changing customer habits, conversation still has a significant role to play in getting the most out of your interaction with prospects. Communicating clearly and effectively is the best tool a salesperson can have. The path to success is to stop relying terminology that makes your prospect work to understand you; it’s time for a more human style of selling.
By Catherine Luff, Silent Edge