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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 26, 2010 • Issue 10:07:02


Nothing fancy needed

Fads will date you. No? Then why didn't you wear that suede jacket with the fringe to work today? Succumbing to fads can also alienate potential customers. Consider tattoos. Let's say you're inked with green snakes from wrist to elbow and you wear a short-sleeved shirt when out prospecting for business. You call on a merchant who recently emigrated from, say, Jordan. Will that merchant be receptive to you and your offerings?

The same idea applies to language. Slang will date you. What would you think if you asked a colleague how she was doing and she replied, "All is groovy"? Slang can also cause confusion. Suppose the aforementioned Jordanian merchant asked how your day was going and you replied, "I'm stoked." It is likely the merchant would have no idea what you meant.

Beware of jargon

Industry jargon can be equally problematic. Peppering your pitches with acronyms and abbreviations like RDC, auth, BIN, app, E2EE, SaaS and SMS won't necessarily date you, but it can repel the very prospects you're trying to reel in if you are not thoughtful about how and when you use such shortcuts.

What is the advantage of using terms other people don't know anyway? There is one: you may look smart. That's it. And that's not even guaranteed.

What's the disadvantage? You risk being misunderstood. The people you are speaking with, the very ones you want to establish long-term business relationships with, will probably be confused and alienated. Few will interrupt you to say they've only understood every third word you've said. People don't like to be involved with things that make them feel stupid. It's as simple as that. They will wait for someone to come along who speaks their language.

Don't overdo the pizazz

It's also important to avoid terms and product names that were invented just to dazzle. When the dust settled, great innovations and inventions stood out because of what they did, not what they were called. Many companies have re-dubbed vacuum cleaners with names along the lines of The Whirly-Wonder Miracle Tube and The Reverse Can-O-Blast, but the machine is and shall remain the vacuum cleaner, stubbornly refusing to adapt to the efforts of the clever.

Maybe what you have to offer merchants is completely different and better than what your competitors can provide. However, a labored description may undercut the value of your improved service or product rather than promote it. And if you sound glib or wax too poetic about your services, your listeners may begin to question your sincerity.

Instead, learn as much as possible about your prospects' needs before you meet with them, dress appropriately for all presentations, listen well once you are there and use words that will provide a clarity that leads to understanding.

Study your audience

Some terms are integral and unique to the payments business, of course. And if you are comfortable with the terms you are using and can easily explain them to merchants, by all means, give it a go. Just be ready to back up and simplify as needed.

If you suspect that what you are calling something is too specific or sounds like baloney, watch the reactions of those you are speaking with. Do they interrupt for clarification, look bored or attempt to change the topic? A mere change of vocabulary could improve the situation if you pay attention.

The important thing is that you be fully aware of what you are saying, certain you have come up with the best way to convey your intended meaning, and able to change your language and mannerisms to suit each situation. This seems like such a simple idea, but it can easily get away from you once your mouth is in motion.

Be proud of your sales skills, but realize you are also a teacher. And remember, when students have fidgeted at the mention of integers during algebra class, many a wise teacher has said, "Let's not say 'integer' right now; let's call this a number; it's easier to understand." Use this type of flexibility when you're on your next sales call. Doing so could help you build the kind of rapport that will lead to a rapid close. end of article

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