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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

The Fastest Way to Lose a Sale


Yes, it’s a strange question to be asked, but it led to a great conversation. I remember the workshop so clearly. Someone once asked me what I felt was the easiest way to lose a sale.

My answer?

Using terminology or jargon inappropriately, given the knowledge level of the person sitting across the table. 

Perhaps that answer popped into my head because it was a workshop on a jargon-intensive topic — digital marketing. But there are plenty of products and services these days where salespeople can fall into the jargon trap. 

Anyone who sells or buys digital media needs to understand general digital terms and jargon in order to engage in a meaningful conversation about digital marketing. But that doesn’t mean you need to drop all the lingo you know on the prospect. It’s more significant to know why and how the terms are important — and then translate that into English. When all you know is the definition and not the importance of how they fit into the digital marketing equation, you’re likely to be among those who drop the hottest digital jargon in the wrong way, or with the wrong audience.  

I have seen it so often: A salesperson is introduced to a handful of new terms related to digital marketing and then, in an effort to come off as an expert, they eagerly use as many terms as they can on their next sales call. The problem is that the person on the other side of the table might not know what the salesperson is talking about or understand why they should care. The customer might ask for clarification, and the salesperson might stumble, revealing the shallowness of their knowledge. Or worse, the prospect might know the terminology better than the salesperson and it becomes obvious pretty quickly! If you don’t understand the importance and meaning of the terms, it is almost impossible either to rise or drop to your audience’s level and have the deeper conversation you want.

So what do you do?

1. Learn the Jargon!

Invest in yourself. Take the time to sharpen your skills and to continue your education. There are a number of online learning opportunities that can help you get better at not only understanding the definition of digital terms, but also why the concepts behind the terms are important in using digital media. If this is an area where you know you need to improve, check out our Digital What and Why online courses designed specifically to help you learn not only what the digital terms mean, but why they’re important.

2. Prepare for the Meeting

Do your homework before your meeting. There are several things you can do to learn more about the person that you are meeting with and how savvy they may or may not be regarding digital media based on their job responsibilities or how they are currently using digital media. Here are a couple of ways to gain some insight:

  • Look for them on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. What can you learn about their job responsibilities or activity online? 
  • Check out their website on a computer screen as well as a mobile device. What does it look like? Is information easy to find on their website? Do they have a site that is optimized for various screens?
  • Conduct a search for the kinds of products and services they offer. Can you find them? What comes up for them? How do they rank among competitors?

3. Keep Learning

Stay up to date with changes in the industry and, yes, new jargon. One constant in the digital marketing and media world is that it is always changing — and pretty quickly. Find one or two resources that are your go-to for news and trends.

Don't forget to read your audience. Early in your meeting, ask a few questions to learn about how their website plays a part in their overall marketing. Listen for the terminology they use and adjust your own language to fit how they speak.

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Topics: Digital