Picture this, you are at a trade show or networking event and are having a really good conversation with a sales professional. You find out that her kids go to the same school as your kids and you were able to connect. Then out of curiosity you ask her, “Mary, tell me more about what you do.” Just then in a instance it seems as if this once down to earth human being transformed in to corporate robot who spews out a rather lengthy, technical, buzzword filled riddle that leaves you with a headache truing to decipher the meaning of what the heck she just said. It’s as if you just did some mental gymnastics and after you are done, you are left confused as ever. You are so confused that you don’t know what to say next and just say, interesting and then you quietly excuse yourself. What could have been a cool networking experience turned totally south!
But imagine, if you were a prospect? Think of how many people Mary was pushing away because she was totally confusing them? As a buyer we have all experienced this before and because we are too embarrassed to ask and not wanting to reveal our ignorance we leave confused! Many sellers are doing this today, heck I know I have done it before in my early days of technology sales. I had to learn the hard way, but I want to hep you circumvent the pitfall of putting people through a confusing mental gymnastics riddle.
There’s a Problem
Many sellers, especially in the technology space think that if they use big buzz words they will come off more educated on their product/services and it will impress their prospects. Well, 99% of the time that is not the case. It ends up leaving them worse off than before they spoke with you. It actually damages the relationship because it causes the prospect to feel uncomfortable and not okay. Hint, people will buy from those that make them “feel good”. They buy from those who they know, like and trust. Since you made the prospect feel uncomfortable, they are less likely to engage with you again.
If they are not likely to engage with you, how in the world can you build a trusting relationship? It will not happen. Besides, the prospect would not want to encounter with you again because of the fact that they were embarrassed that they can’t seem to understand you. Think of it from the side of a potential business partner. If we were to refer back to the scenario at the beginning on the top of this page, what if the this lady speaking to Mary knew folks in search of Mary’s company’s product? That is a lost opportunity for Mary because people can’t understand the words coming out of her mouth.
Many sellers like Mary may not really understand what they do or are capable of doing for the prospect so they memorize their company’s or corporate’s jargon. The problem with tying to sound sophisticated by using big words or company’s jargon, is that you are not speaking for understanding for the prospect. You are doing it for yourself. You are doing it not to reveal your lack of knowledge or to impress and boost your own ego. The prospect and you both loose in the end.
The first thing to do is to recognize you have a problem. But how? Well, for one if your conversations are not developing after you tell people what you do or they are leaving looking confused, that’s probably a sign. Another way to evaluate if your message is causing people to do some mental gymnastics is to get a family member or friend who is not familiar with your industry and share with them what you do. Have them promise to be honest before hand (family members usually are the best for this) and tell you if they understand what you do. If they can’t understand what you do, then that’s a likely sign you need to come up with a simpler message.
But, if you are like Mary or many others, here are a few things you can do to prevent the mental gymnastics routine:
- Recognize that it is not about you! It is about your potential client or business partner. They are the ones that need to understand what you do. They don’t need or want a dissertation that is designed to boost your ego. They want to hear your value and if it can benefit them!
- Find a 10 year old (preferably someone you know) a child, niece, nephew, cousin or family friend and explain to them what you do. Keep changing your message so that they can understand.
- Do the opposite of the “golden rule” and treat others the way that “they would like to be treated” and not “the way that you would like to be treated”. Every prospect or business partner are different, so treat them as unique individuals by adjusting your message according to practical terms/examples they can understand. Make it relevant to them.
- Try not to use industry buzz words unless it is someone in your industry and would understand/appreciate them.
- Keep it short and not a long drawn out message. If you can’t tell someone what you do in a few sentences, you probably don’t know exactly what your true value is.
- Practice by recording yourself telling your imaginary friend what you do and listen to it over and over again. Make sure you are not speaking too quick or regurgitating big complex words from your company’s marketing material.
The great news is that the method works! Mary applied these soultions and is now happily engaging with others and finding meaningful business partnerships.
I too have found that the clearer I can explain what I do the more I have meaningful conversations which leads to more business opportunities. I learned the art of putting others first and speaking to their needs will always make me look more educated than if I was to blabber corporate jargon.
Mental gymnastic is tough stuff, lets all promise to stop dong it to our prospects. I hope that you enjoy this and that you see a difference as well, but most importantly, I want you to go out and DO BIG THINGS!