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Does Jargon Ruin your Sales Pitch?

How often have you walked away from a salesperson shaking your head in disbelief because you barely understood a word they said? In our high–tech world of computers, chemical compounds and acronyms for just about everything, it is all too easy to be lost in the jargon that surrounds purchasing even everyday items.

Those who know me will know that I am an avid Apple Macintosh Computer user. I have owned Macs for years now and find them wonderfully easy to operate and incredibly reliable. Yet, I can’t give the same high praise to the sales representative that greeted me recently when I inquired about upgrading my current model.

Yes, I was greeted warmly.

Yes, the showroom was presented beautifully and,

Yes, the salesperson was enthusiastic to serve me.

But as soon as I muttered the word “upgrade” I was whisked away into the far-off world of computer speak.

Now, I don’t consider myself a fool, but I was lost after the very first sentence of gigabytes, RAM, Ports, Bluetooth, Apps and Cloud. If this young man was trying to impress me with his knowledge, he was doing a great job. But if he was trying to sell me a computer system, he had no chance at all. You see, I had no idea what he was talking about, nor did I care. I felt a mixture of foolishness and anger. The salesperson wasn’t interested in my needs, my lifestyle, or my understanding. He was too busy impressing me!

Consequently, I chose not to purchase from that particular outlet.

Jargon in any field of business can kill sales. Doctors who presume we have a degree in anatomy or mechanics who think we can do more than put petrol in the tank and change a tyre. Even cook – book writers who believe we all grow exotic herbs and Asian vegetables. Or worst of all, beauty therapists who talk about active ingredients that other than industrial chemists no-one else has heard about and how they work on layers of the skin with really strange names. To make it worse, many of these products have names that match their ingredients which many of us cannot even pronounce correctly, let alone understand.

Great sales people in our industry do not presume that the average woman thinking about buying products from us knows the difference between, an AHA or a BHA. They don’t take it for granted that Collagen and Elastin are household words. They don’t think that everyone knows where the epidermis is or understands terms such as iontophoresis and radio frequency. They don’t use confusing ingredient names or strange aromatherapy plant extracts in their speech, without explaining themselves in common, easy-to-understand, every – day language. Our industry is constantly changing and many of these changes are on the cutting edge of science, medicine, chemistry and engineering. So, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest industry jargon in our enthusiasm to inform our customers of the benefits of products and treatments they can receive in our salons.

However, until you have asked sufficient questions about your client’s needs and wants, you cannot possibly talk at that customer’s level of understanding. Jargon sounds great if you are at a conference with peers from your industry. But the average man and woman (your customers), want things explained to them in a language they can understand. How else can they make an informed decision to buy?

To highlight this point, I have noticed solicitors and accountancy firms include terms such as: “explained in plain English” in their advertising. Even restaurant menus have an explanation following the names of dishes only a chef could dream up.

I am pleased to say that some therapists do brilliantly when it comes to explaining both products and services. On a recent trip to Auckland, I was able to overhear a conversation a young therapist was having with her customer. What impressed me most was the lack of talking and the careful listening that was taking place. Initially, she asked; “So what do you want to achieve with your products?” The emphasis was completely on assisting the customer rather than just pushing the newest, latest, most expensive cream in the salon. After intently listening to the customer’s response, the therapist asked a few more probing questions, again listening carefully to the answers, before making her recommendations. In each case, she explained the benefits of using the products she had selected in easy-to-understand language. Throughout her discussion, she demonstrated her professional knowledge and expertise by utilizing industry-specific words, but each time this was done, she made sure the client fully understood what she was saying by offering a simple explanation of these terms. Her customer felt extremely comfortable buying from her.

Indeed, some of the worst jargon comes in the form of abbreviations and acronyms. To quote a certain computer salesperson, we have megs, gigs, Mhz, Apps, PCs, Bits, Bytes, PDFs and Jpegs all at RRP.

How often in the beauty industry do we fall into the trap of forgetting that our customers simply might not understand? It’s very easy to do and maybe killing your sales!

If only the computer salesman had bothered to speak with me, rather than speak at me in some kind of alien dialect, I may well have been writing this article on a new computer!