Have you seen this video of business jargon released by Weird Al? It all starts to sound a little too familiar, doesn’t it?
Everyone wants to sound credible and be taken seriously, especially when trying to meet with an executive audience. As salespeople, we have the tendency of trying to sound smart rather than just being confident that we have interesting perspectives, insights and experiences to share.
When sales reps move from selling to lower level managers to selling to business executive audiences, they often think they need to sound smart by using big words. With that approach, they run the risk of leaving an executive thinking ‘He said a lot of nothing, but used a lot of big words. I’m not sure he really knows what he’s talking about.’
In consultative selling, it is easy to fall into the trap of using jargon like “paradigm shift.” What do you really mean when you say “paradigm shift?” How about rephrasing that to “We need to rethink our strategy” or “Change is hard.”
What You're Really Trying to Say
|Paradigm Shift||We need to rethink our strategy|
|I'm going to double click on this issue||Let's look into this issue further|
|I'm going to push into this||Let's get into the details a little bit|
|Synergy||Add value by working together|
|Scalable||Will work equally as well in large quantity|
|Core Competency||This is our company's unique ability|
|Let's call an audible||Let's deviate from our intended plan|
Every industry has its own set of jargon. In Tech and solution services the tendency is to talk about APIs, SaaS solutions and IaaS. It may be second nature to the salesperson or consultant to use those acronyms, but it’s not always second nature to the business executives they’re engaging. We need to use plain speak and not jargon or acronyms to explain our point and to relate to things that the executive cares about.
Sales teams often spend more time worrying about what slides they will show in a meeting and not enough time thinking about the words they will say. When prepping for a meeting, it’s important to think about what insights you want to deliver, and how to do that without getting into gobbledygook jargon, tech speak, or acronyms that are going to miss the mark with your intended audience. If you sound overly technical and miss your audience, the executive in the meeting will end up being confused and may redirect you to someone more technical. Then, you’ve lost out on the executive selling opportunity that you worked so hard to land in the first place.
This post began with an amusing, yet convicting example from singer/satirist Weird Al , so it’s fitting to end it with a piece of advice from another songwriter: “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.” – Pete Seeger