To thrive in selling, eliminate jargon from your pitch

Eliminate jargon when selling. Jargon is common knowledge for those in the same industry-not outside. Jargon is a gun many salespeople inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot with.

Finally! I understood what 5mbps meant. And in the process, I was also reminded of the importance to eliminate jargon when selling. Speaking English as I  call it in my sales program. This is what happened. I used to watch this award winning advert and laughed along to it but the message was lost on me.  I had no idea what 5mbps meant; until last week when it was s-p-e-l-t out for me.

What is jargon in simple words?

And no. I wasn’t incredulously told, as I’d been many times before, that, “5mbps. That’s fast!”- which only served to compound my ignorance. Fast compared to what? I’d wonder. And then there are those who would tell me, “Duh! It means 5 mega bytes per second”- and I’d think, “Ok” and still be none the wiser.

No, this person told me something different. Knowing my love for movies he explained that the average movie is 700MB in size. That I knew.  He went on to explain that 5mbps means is that at that internet speed, I can download a movie in 140 (that’s 700 divided by 5) seconds, or about 2 and a half minutes. A blinding light ignited in my head…Aha! So that’s what 5mbps means. Now, if only instead of using jargon (saying 5mbps) they’d eliminate jargon when selling and tell me I can download a movie in 2 and a half minutes. Then I’d appreciate what ‘fast’ means and more importantly, the sale would become easier as what’s in it for me would be clearer. Sales buzz words and jargon is a gun many salespeople inadvertently shoot themselves in the foot with.

eliminate jargon when selling

Why some sellers use, not eliminate jargon when selling

The failure to eliminate jargon when selling is powered by three things: pride (owing to indifference), academic intellect, and naiveté.

If I feel saying, “With our speeds you can download a movie in less than five minutes,” is beneath me, then I’ll retain my hubris (foolish pride) but lose the buyer and therefore the sale. It is hubris that makes me give you a look of disbelief when you ask me what 5mbps means. (How can you not know? I wonder. It’s obvious). Well, is the meaning of “the plinth area of the house is 128sq metres obvious to you? I doubt. Yet, it is to the fellow selling the house at a housing expo. Jargon is common knowledge for those in the same industry-not outside.

Eliminate jargon when selling

Sometimes it’s not pride, but academic intellect that frustrates eliminating jargon when selling. The scientific mind reasons that the speeds may not always hold steady and committing to 2 and a half minutes will be lying. Selling is an art, not a science. What you want to demonstrate to the buyer is an appreciation of speed in a practical way- that’s the objective. It’s not to share the marking scheme. And especially in this market where time is relative, I won’t throw a tantrum and claim you lied because the movie took 5 minutes and not half the time. In fact, once I appreciate it’s fast the occasional 8 and 10 minutes will be non-issues. For instance, how often does your pizza take the 10 minutes the cashier swears by, to cook?

Read: Connect with the customer by using his jargon-not yours

Naivete from sales buzz words in internal sales training

Naiveté, is largely borne out of internal sales training. “Those prospects that sign on over the next 3 months, will get the credit card registration (joining) fee waived,” the trainer at the bank excitedly says and shows statistics to back the promotion.  But bank staff are not bank customers. The naive salesperson will thus harp on ‘waive’ expecting the same excitement on the buyer. Instead he gets a blank stare.   The progressive salesperson on the other hand will hook the buyer with, “Excuse me Sir; do you know the bank is giving away credit cards for free?”  He’s aware that customers want to know what’s in it for them. And as difficult as it is to believe, waiving joining fee is jargon to them.

Other examples of jargon

Speaking of banking, when the next “hustler” says he’s chosen your branch because it is small, he means its physical size and attention he will get. Don’t send him away by indignantly insisting, “It’s not small. Its turnover is the second only to Head office!”

Read: Simplify technical language, use ‘what this means is’


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