FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM SEPTEMBER 2007
How does your prospect perceive your words?
New? Engaging? Valuable? Exciting? Compelling? Or are they boring, time-worn clichés that have your prospect mentally yawning and turned off?
You may think your industry buzzwords, sales jargon, and catchy phrases make you look “hip,” even smart. Wrong, paradigm breath. In fact, they put you in a deficit position. When you wax worn out words, your prospect is downsizing your order.
In her new book, The Voice of Authority, Dianna Booher covers ten communication strategies every leader needs to know. These strategies are so transferable to salespeople it’s scary.
Here’s what Dianna has to say about the way you speak:
“If a phrase starts to roll off your tongue, shut your mouth; consider it a cliché–probably a phrase so overused that the meaning has long since been lost.” Dianna writes, “Instead, aim for originality and specificity. For starters, here’s a list of bureaucratic buzzwords that muddy messages and mar your image as a clear communicator and straight shooter:
-No brainer (meaning if you don’t see it as clearly as I do, you’re off your rocker)
-Enhancement (an improvement too insignificant to charge for but worth touting; often confused with body parts)
-Value-added (anything you can’t charge for because the client doesn’t value it enough to pay for it)
-Incent (prodding people with money, freebies, coupons–whatever it takes to get them to do something they’re not inclined to do on their own)
-Core competencies (as opposed to core incompetencies?)
-Initiatives (long, long ago, they were called goals and plans)
-Thought leaders (as opposed to those who lead the unthinking morons?)
-Optimization (the process of making things better and better–as in cooking, flying, making love, making stealth missiles, making movies, building skyscrapers, counting votes, applying makeup, charting sea turtles)
-Solution (solid dissolved in a liquid or a mathematical proof hidden inside all products and services now offered by all corporations around the world)
-Alignment (identifying where the rubber doesn’t meet the road in goals that are supposed to be running parallel to yours)
-Deliverables (paperboys and girls used to ride bikes and carry these)
-Rightsizing (Nordstrom does this free of charge if the clothes are pricey enough)
-Moral clarity (when you decide you can’t get away with something without being fined or jailed)
-Impactful (newly coined term meaning packed full of potential to be hard-hitting–in the mind, heart, pocketbook, gut, mouth)
-Robust (fat, wealthy, expensive, complex, healthy, meaningful, deep, feisty; can be applied to people, philosophy, technology, equipment, training, strategy, food, religion, research, vegetation, medicine, light bulbs, laughter, beer)
-Branding (making livestock so it doesn’t get lost or stolen; marking dead stock in inventory that hasn’t sold in years with a new “look and feel” so that it finds its way to market again)
-Methodologies (in more primitive times, this was methods or the way you do something)
-Technologies (yet undiscovered wizardry from the netherworld)
-Bandwidth (refers to anything you want to limit, as in “that’s outside our bandwidth”)
-Seamless (meaning, I don’t know where the heck my job ends and yours starts, so we can pass the buck if necessary)
-Platform (horizontal structure that supports all systems, people, brands, and philosophies)
And it’s not just speaking. Stringing these terms together in paragraph after paragraph from document to document makes written communication as bland and meaningless as verbal communication. Take a look at this excerpt from an annual report of a Fortune 10 company to see of you find anything thought provoking:
Our industry is constantly evolving. The industry has globalized as the world’s economies have expanded. Partners and competitions change. New opportunities are larger, more capital intensive, and often in remote areas or difficult physical environments. Business cycles fluctuate, but our long-term view provides us with consistent direction. Finally, technology has improved the methods we employ and the results we achieve in meeting the world’s energy challenges.
Any great revelation here? Nothing specific. Could have come from any energy company in the market–or remove the word energy and you could insert it in just about any annual report. Bland. Boring.”
Not only does someone in corporate America write drivel like this – someone else reads it, likes it, and approves it. Pathetic.
In the past fifteen years I have only reviewed a handful of books in this forum. This book ROCKS! I recommend you invest in The Voice of Authority. Your words speak as loud as your actions – in spite of clichés to the contrary.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM SEPTEMBER 2007