I don’t understand my clients – they don’t talk my language and I don’t speak theirs but we’re all speaking English.
I have this client – actually it’s a bank – and everyone I speak to when I’m in meetings there talks in acronyms (i.e. using terms like MCQs instead of saying “multiple-choice questions” and so on).
And it’s been the same for years – it’s now become part of their culture but, and here’s the thing, as an external consultant I usually have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.
How do your clients feel when you talk to them? Do they feel intimidated because you use jargon that they don’t understand or do they just switch off because, to them, you’re taking gibberish?
That’s the curse of knowledge. It’s always a challenge for us as course developers and facilitators to remember that people who attend our training courses don’t have the same level of knowledge that we do and that we have to simplify our language to make sure that we get our point across. We know, for sure, that we need to say something in a different way when we’re confronted with blank expressions when we’ve tried to explain something using the wrong words.
When you put together your sales pitch, think carefully about the words you use. Make sure that you don’t use jargon that is common language in the office. Sometimes that means using many more words than you think are necessary and, possibly, speaking more slowly but, in the end, it will pay off if the client understands what you’re talking about first time and you don’t have to constantly repeat yourself.
Focus on the client when you speak to them. Do they seem to be understanding what you say or are they looking confused? Check that they’re still with you from time to time. The last thing you want is for the client to not do the deal simply because they didn’t understand it!