The Language of Sales

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Originally published December 12, 2012.

We’re re-publishing it now because we’re taking the day off, as you probably are, as well. But we’re sales professionals, and that means not even New Year’s Day can keep us from thinking about the next win. Since there are no customers to call, do the next best thing and make yourself better.

Understanding the language of sales, like understanding any other language, is essential for effective communication. For all of us applying technology to the practice of selling, language is even more important because technology relies more and more on computers and other smart devices. But “smart” is a misnomer – these devices aren’t smart, they’re programmed. And that makes all the difference.

In 2005 I published a book called Sales Automation Done Right, documenting a twenty-year effort to computerize the front office of a small business I had started and which eventually became very successful, in no small part because of that effort. At the end of the book is a Glossary – not unusual for a technical book, but appropriate now because of the subject of the book – sales automation.

The principle thrust of my book was that sales automation does not have to be limited to the administration of sales, to simply keeping lists of contacts and interactions and appointments and everything else and applying them to streamlining all of those activities. There is a better use of the computer – to directly assist with the selling skills and strategies of the sales process to win more sales.

This premise necessitates that the computer understands the selling process. My idea was that it was possible if you reduced the description of what happens in the sales cycle to its essentials and modeled it. If a computer can model the weather, it can model any sales cycle. It simply has to be taught the language of sales, and that language has to be applied exactly and consistently because the computer is not smart enough to interpret intent. “I meant to say …” is lost in programming.

For instance, is a customer a person, some people, an account, an organization? The computer needs to know if it is to accurately replicate the real sales cycle. If it doesn’t, the inevitable result is bad information, and bad information leads to further bad results.

I have extracted the glossary from Sales Automation Done Right and made it available as a small e-book in iBooks and PDF format — it’s free to download from The HUB Library. We’ll feature the sales definitions a letter at a time on the HUB and as we go through that process, and I’ll update them with my current opinion about what I wrote then.

Simple stuff, but very important to your effectiveness as a sales person in this “smart device” era.

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