How Jargon Is Killing Your Sales

Plain talk makes sales. Fancy talk makes you sound lame. – Jeffrey Gitomer

Do you use jargon in your sales presentations? Words that, while understood by your industry colleagues, mean nothing to your customers? Jargon can knock a sale off course without your even knowing it.

sales jargon kills sales

photo by creative soul/dpc

I recently watched a salesperson present some online marketing ideas to an insurance agency. One of the items in the proposal was labeled “PPC”, and the salesperson referred to “PPC” several times during his remarks.

Finally, the exasperated client raised his hand to stop the presentation and said, “What the heck is PPC?'”

Only then did the AE explain that it stood for “Pay Per Click” — the text ads on Google (advertisers only pay Google when someone clicks on the ad).

We were lucky the client asked. In many cases, customers are afraid to say anything because they don’t want to look stupid. The result can be a lost sale — people won’t buy what they don’t understand.

It’s time to clean jargon out of your vocabulary.  Your “inside” expressions — the ones you use every day with co-workers and advertising agencies — do not belong in the sales materials and you share with your direct customers .

Here are some terms your co-workers understand but your customers may not:

  • Demo — the furniture store owner doesn’t have a demo. She has customers.
  • DMA — the PI attorney doesn’t know what your DMA is, and doesn’t care. He might be interested in how far your signal goes, or what counties you’re carried in.
  • 8a-10a” — the real estate agent you’re calling on doesn’t get to the office at 8a — she arrives at 8am, or 8 in the morning.
  • SEO — the insurance broker has no idea what “SEO” is, but he wants to show up higher when people are searching online.
  • PPC or SEM — same as the above. Talk about the text ads people click on when they go to Google.

Sales expert Jill Konrath put it this way:

“Our goal should always be to ensure clear communications. That means we need to speak like we’re talking to normal human beings. Sometimes that’s harder than it sounds. But, by keeping things simple, we all benefit.”

Whether you’re talking to customers online, on paper or in person, ditch the jargon. Your sales numbers will be glad you did.


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