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Life Health > Running Your Business > Marketing and Lead Generation

Do you talk down to prospects?

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Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools in the salesperson’s toolbox. And that knowledge includes specialized industry vocabulary. In reality, though, knowledge and specialized lingo can be powerful—when it comes to costing you business.

A great many new salespeople are tempted to try to impress prospects and clients by slinging around their newly acquired industry vocabulary. They tend to oversell, answer questions no prospect has ever posed and use words unfamiliar to clients and prospects. 

They discuss how their service or product will impact ROI, how best to onboard new employees and how their service or product creates a new paradigm to address a prospect’s needs.

Impact ROI? I see, you mean whether or not it makes more money than it costs. Onboarding new employees? I get it—hiring and orienting a new employee. Creating a new paradigm to address needs? You’re talking about a different way of dealing with a problem, right?

You can use these fancy terms—or you can just talk to your prospect. Some say that if you want to build credibility with prospects you have to speak their language. If, by using these terms, you are in fact speaking your prospect’s language—fine. But there’s something to be said for plain old English.

In today’s competitive selling environment, even experienced sellers can fall into the trap of trying to impress with their knowledge of prospects’ issues. The tendency is to pull out all the stops to land a sale. But rather than turning prospects into clients, our silver tongues end up alienating them. 

Whether you’re a relatively new seller bursting with enthusiasm or an experienced one feeling the pressure to produce, step back and relax. Ditch the impressive vocabulary and unnecessary demonstrations of knowledge and just address your prospects’ needs.

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Paul McCord is a best-selling author, speaker and leading authority on lead generation. He has more than 20 years’ experience coaching and mentoring salespeople. For more information, go to


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