Do you like to play games?  Not mind-games…but board games, sports games, card games, trivia games, etc.?  Notice how every game has different rules and names for the pieces or equipment, the “field”, and positions involved?  These differences can make it challenging to communicate with people who don’t know the ins and outs of the specific game.

Last weekend we played the game Scrabble.  We racked our brains to remember what to call the Scrabble pieces without looking at the directions.  “Tiles” did finally come to us – though watching us “old folks” was fun for a REALLY smart 18 year-old who was crushing us at the game (she knew they were called tiles, of course, but let us figure it out on our own).  Knowing the right words and terminology can not only make you “Smarter than an 18 year old” it can make you an “insider” in that game’s circle of players.  words

It’s the same in sales.  If we speak the words and terminology of those we want to communicate (and play) well with, we are on the “inside” instead of the outside.  And the benefits of being an insider are HUGE!

Think about it…Do you talk the same language as your customers?  As your colleagues?  As your manager?  The words, phrases and acronyms that are so obvious to us may mean nothing (or worse, something completely different) to the person we are communicating with. And now with the global focus in so many businesses, there are even more opportunities to clutter our communication.

As a consultant working with different companies, it is always fascinating for me to listen to the “org speak” composed of different words and acronyms attached to MANY processes, systems, initiatives, and the culture.  These acronyms become so ingrained with people in that company that they forget that other people may have no idea what they’re talking about.

I’ve learned that I need to ask for clarification if I don’t know what they are talking about. Are your customers comfortable asking?  Are your  prospects?

Throughout the next few weeks, we’re going to explore some of the common “sales” terms that sales professionals use. We’ll have some fun as we try to add some common understanding to what they really mean.

If there are any terms that you want me to explore, please leave a comment.  Looking forward to your thoughts, I think this is going to be fun!


P.S. The “back story” to this post?  It’s inspired by the radio show (they also have a podcast) A Way with Words on NPR (National Public Radio).  My husband,a big NPR fan, has our family listening to A Way with Words with Author Martha Barnette and dictionary editor Grant Barrett (I guess someone has to have that job).  As Martha and Grant discuss word origins, slang, and dialect effects, it is obvious that even those of us involved in the game of speaking English, may not speak the same language.