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The Power of “What Do You Mean?”

3 min readFebruary 14, 2018

Sales Jargon Causes Confusion

Every industry is flooded with trendy terms and flashy acronyms. Influencers and marketers coin these terms to make things sound new and exciting, increase perceived importance, and capture attention.

In our space, it’s “auto-dialer,” in others there’s “MarComTech”, “FinTech”, and many more, but what do those terms really mean? Everyone perceives these words differently and creates their own definitions for them. This creates a massive amount of noise, confusing buyers and sellers alike.

It is the duty of sales reps to respond to and cut through the noise. Reps must throw away jargon and create as much clarity as possible so buyers can get what they really need. If they don’t you risk losing a sale, or worse.

Confused Sales Rep JargonTake the word “auto-dialer.” It appears in our space over and over. By definition, an auto-dialer is a computer that rapidly dials a list of phone numbers and listens for busy signals, out-of-service notifications, etc. Once a call connects, the dialer plays a pre-recorded message or connects the call to a live person.

Consider the following scenario: You are a sales manager at a company that creates software to improve the efficiency of reps on the phone but do not offer an “auto-dialer” per se. A prospect has seen some hype about auto-dialers and believes they will provide their reps with click-to-dial in Salesforce. They reach your company and speak with a rep. There are three outcomes to this situation:

1. Worst: The rep hears auto-dialer, says “We don’t do that,” and disqualifies the lead, severing the relationship. The lead then contacts an auto-dialer, talks to their reps before realizing they actually want click-to-dial. They find your competitor that provides click-to-dial and signs a contract.

2. Bad: The rep has a full 15 minute conversation about auto-dialers before realizing the lead is actually looking for click-to-call. The rep must then backtrack and begin the whole process all over again. This hurts your company’s credibility.

3. Best: The rep begins by asking deeper questions and identifies that the real need is click-to-call at the start of the conversation. They demo your click-to-call features and sign a deal.

Revenue.io is not an autodialer. We support calls that have significantly more intent, and help sales reps increase their effectivity and effectiveness. To do this, we use click-to-call and call lists. These features that allow reps to simply click a number in Salesforce to dial it or create a list of contacts to go through. Both of these are more involved than an auto dialer, and serve a very different purpose.

The Takeaway:

Buzzwords and jargon can lead to your rep and a prospect talking, but having two completely different conversations. When a buzzword comes up, some of the best questions you can ask during a discussion is “what do you mean by that,” “tell me more about that,” or “how do you think an auto-dialer will help you?”

These questions remove the jargon, and make the prospect talk about their needs, problems, or how they plan to use your product. They show what they are actually looking for so the rep can provide a true solution. Sales reps should stay current on industry terms and trendy words so they can actively identify when they are being used.

Reps should completely avoid using jargon in their own vocabulary. Customers buy what they understand and the more clear, direct, and concise your salespeople are, the better prospects can understand them. That being said, you can use buzzwords to your advantage in a sale. Once your reps clarify the need, they can properly find a solution for the prospect.

In the previous example, if the rep at your company had asked the right questions, they would have realized that the prospect was really looking for click-to-dial and voicemail drop, both of which you do. Then, the rep could actively sell those features and reach a deal.

I further recommend that when giving a product demo or pitching a service, avoid asking the well-intentioned, but often obligatory sounding “Do you have any questions so far?” Instead try asking, “What do you think so far?” It’s a powerful open-ended question I often use to uncover early-on what a prospect is thinking but not saying. This helps get early feedback to better steer the conversation and avoid wasting precious time on features or benefits of little interest to them.