Speaking Your Customer's Language: How We Talk to Promo Buyers
I'm not suggesting you need to learn a foreign language. What I am referring to is learning your client's vocabulary tendencies and professional lingo to better understand their mindset, along with their industry pitfalls and challenges as promo buyers. Doing so will open the door to more opportunity. Let’s be real: Sales is predominately a communications function. If you’re not communicating effectively and efficiently, then you’re not selling.
In your everyday conversations with customers and prospects alike, it's imperative that you’re paying attention to the type of language they’re using and assimilate by incorporating similar verbiage into your own responses and storytelling. That integration supports the connection between you and your client by building a bridge from your message to their interpretation of what you're communicating. This form of language assimilation also creates a sense of familiarity to your customer and serves to build a level of comfort, confidence and likability.
Similarly, being aware of your client’s body language, posture and mannerisms will provide suggestions to how well-liked you are by the individual, and vice versa. This is a psychological phenomenon known as the Chameleon Effect. Researchers Chartrand and Bargh conducted a series of experiments in the late '90s, which confirmed the theory that we have a natural tendency to unintentionally imitate vocal expressions, gestures, posture, etc. of the people we enjoy. This flattering mimicry increases the affinity between two people going beyond a simple social interaction.
It’s equally as important to refrain from using your own industry lingo with customers, unless of course the relationship and education is at a stable level of familiarity. Frequently, professionals of all sorts get caught up in using industry lingo and sales jargon because they feel it confirms their position or as an attempt to elevate an image of status. Here’s the thing—your customers generally aren't impressed with your industry acronyms and abbreviations. Those terms are terrific time-savers when communicating with co-workers and colleagues, but will only confuse your customers. What your clients want and expect from the customer experience is to have a sense of belonging, to be at home and a part of the same team. Using industry jargon will only alienate your customer, create an uncomfortable buying experience and likely result in an abandoned sale or lost opportunity.
Health care and automotive professionals do a great job of confusing the you-know-what out of us. Recently, I asked a friend of mine in the medical field to give me an example of her everyday conversation in the workplace. She fired back with this:
“Based off examination findings of febrile temperatures, tonsillar exudates and erythema of the pharynx, I suspect you have streptococcal pharyngitis, which we can confirm by testing for antibodies for streptomycin O.”
Which really just means this:
“Judging by your symptoms, I believe you have strep throat, but we’ll do a throat swab test just to make sure.”
Which explanation do you understand, and which makes you feel uncomfortable? Fancy terminology might make you feel good about yourself, but your customer won’t have a clue what you said. If they don’t know what you said, then they’re not buying what you’re selling.
Matt Wagner is a national award-winning sales and marketing professional. Recognized for his expertise in creativity, cultivating relationships and effective communication practices, Matt’s expertise extends from his background as a performing musician, educator and manager in a highly competitive music industry, which led to his success as a designer and marketing consultant to local and national brands before entering the promotional products industry in 2012. Today, Matt resides in Saint Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and daughter, where he serves as vice president of sales for supplier firm Fields Manufacturing.