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Have you ever been in a place where you felt like the people who surrounded you weren’t speaking your “language?” This can occur when traveling abroad and you find that critical information is going by you at an accelerated rate. Or perhaps in a situation that isn’t so obvious—such as when you’re being spoken to by a salesperson that seems to be speaking in an unfamiliar dialect. Or perhaps when attending a business conference where the content is beyond your knowledge or expertise.
How did you feel during those moments? What were you thinking? Maybe you were overcome with feelings of frustration, impatience and irritation. However, this wasn’t just about your misunderstanding, it was about them not understanding you as well.
So why do we do this as managed service providers?
The Cycle of Business Development and Language
Within the IT services business, the cycle of selling can be fairly long; sometimes extending well over a month, quarter or even several months. Depending upon the market sector and the size/scale of a particular contract you are chasing. Despite the length of this cycle, we can potentially gain a lot by speaking the same business language as our prospects and also implementing the Ulistic 15 step marketing and sales process.
Want to succeed in hitting a typical vertical marketing? Try speaking the business language and using the business terms that your prospect uses is a great way to advance the sales process. Prospects will be more receptive if you speak their “language.” When you do, they know they’re being understood and will relate to you more readily.
Become Fluent in Your Prospect’s Language
1. Imitate Their Language and Ask the Right Questions.
No one will argue with their own words, so listen carefully to what your prospect is saying. Blend their exact words into your own sentences and statements when it’s appropriate to do. Try it! This works really well.
2. Offer Insight Into Their Industry, Especially Competitor-Related Insight.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be first-hand knowledge; perhaps you’ve read something about the current state of their competitors or industry—let them know. It’s also a good idea to use an RSS feed to track the prospect, their competitors and what’s happening in their specific industry.
3. Use Their Technical Vocabulary.
Adapt to their vocabulary and dismiss your own. For example: If your firm has a prospect in the healthcare sector but you’re typically only exposed to prospects in corporate setting, read up on the healthcare sector and talk with people who have firsthand experience. Take a crash course on the up-to-date relevant healthcare vocabulary. Learn the terminology and identify similarities between your sector and the prospect’s sector.
4. Always Watch for the “Twitch Factor” During a Conversation.
The prospect wants to be heard and understood, however, you’re still the one trying to sell. This means that you’ve got the most to lose if your prospect doesn’t understand you. It’s important to watch carefully, and check often to make sure they aren’t feeling uncomfortable or confused. Try and make sure they’re on the same page as you.
5. When Necessary, Adjust the Way You’re Framing Your Message.
When it comes to professional services marketing, it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Prospects will differ from sector to sector. What works for a university prospect may not work with a municipal prospect and vise-versa. This means that while your usual propositions and significant messages might be the same for all prospects, you’ll need to tweak it with their language.
To a certain degree, engineers, architects and construction professionals will be expected to sell on behalf of their firm. Make a collaborative effort to speak the language of your prospects and you’ll find the connection to be strengthened, and the sales process to quickly move forward. A little effort will go a long way if you sell using your prospect’s business language.
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.