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What is “Buyer Speak” and Why Should You Care?

LanguageAre you confident that your company’s in-house terminology or creative jargon is the same as your buyers’?

If not, it’s time to rethink the language you’re using.

Using the right words in your communication is crucial. It not only increases prospective buyer engagement but also enhances your credibility as a provider.

In fact, you should think about the nature of your communication in two ways:

  • For the market or industry you’re targeting
    For example, talking about your  software product — though its features are universal — might require different language for the cosmetology industry versus insurance or medical.
  • For the job function of your specific prospect or client
    Discussing your product with an engineering-focused buyer? This could mean more tech-talk than you’d have with a marketing manager. Be prepared to alter your approach as needed.

If incorrect or imprecise terminology is used, buyers will likely question your expertise. A great first impression can quickly go sour if they discover you don’t understand their industry. As a result, it will be hard to convince them you can credibly provide the best solution.

Think about it this way…if you consulted an orthopedic surgeon for your tennis injury and he referred to your elbow as “that arm bendy thing,” would you be comfortable letting him operate on you?

On the flip side, “talking over people’s heads” — using lots of technical terms that aren’t meaningful to your buyer — can also be hazardous. If they don’t understand what you’re trying to sell them, they won’t feel comfortable buying from you.

To become fluent in buyer speak, you need to do your research.

Here’s how…

  • Learn the buying process. Spend time mapping it out. Get to know who’s involved, in what capacity, and what level of influence they have.
  • Chat with key people outside of your organization— prospects, customers and other industry experts and find out how they talk about things.
  • Get insight from colleagues who spend a lot of time with your customers and prospects — service reps, field sales team, etc.
  • Scour industry-related sources — articles, newsletters, websites, online forums and blogs.
  • Get out there and see/hear for yourself — attend relevant trade shows, networking events, conferences — any place where players in the market are talking.
  • Conduct ethnography or ‘on-site’ research — enlist the help of a research provider who is well-trained in observational techniques and can gather relevant field information but also “blend in.’
  • Test your terminology – conduct research among your target to evaluate phrases, keywords and/or descriptions you might use to engage them.  Determine what resonates, what doesn’t and what can be improved.

With these efforts, you’ll be able to produce the right mix of marketing materials, product demos, and sales presentations — using the correct language and appropriate level of technical detail to close the sale.

About the Author

At Erickson Research, a Chicago market research consulting firm, I specialize in probing the minds of consumers and professionals -- revealing what truly matters to them...and why. Find me on LinkedIn.

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