Lost in Translation
Whether you’ve traveled abroad or not, you can certainly appreciate the humor in this clip. Watch this funny TV spot:
It’s safe to assume that all of us have experienced the wish for conversation intervention. That’s when you were desperately hoping someone would intervene in a conversation because you didn’t understand what was being said.
Well, how about your customers? What language are you speaking to them? Are you making it easy for them to get your message? Are you making it easy for them to understand? Or, are you expecting them to do the translation?
One of the big challenges of selling (especially in the business-to-business space) is that you rarely sell to just one person. The more complex your product, the greater number of buyer types you have to interact with, and accordingly, so does the number of languages you have to speak.
Once, while traveling through Luxor, Egypt, I visited the local Souk, or marketplace. It wasn’t long before I had a bunch of kids swarming around me, trying to barter off their wares. It was fascinating how shrewd these young kids were.
First they spoke in French. When I didn’t bite, they tried Italian. Getting nothing there, they tried German. Still nothing. “Strike three, you’re out,” right? Finally, they spoke in English.
“English, English, English! We love English!” They yelled loudly and now every other little kid in the area knew that when they came up to peddle their goods, they had to speak English.
They were brilliant! Even at this very tender age they’d identified one of the basics of sales and communication. If you want to make a sale, you need to figure out the language the customer speaks.
I bet you know your product specs, features and capabilities inside-out, but how adept are you at changing up your message to match the buyer type you’re meeting with?
You get relegated to who you talk like.
How often have you found an executive who wants to spend time talking about product features and specs – the ISes of your solution? It’s incredibly rare. Even if they want to, they often have so much going on that they simply don’t have time.
Instead, they only need to know the high level message – the MEANs of your solution. What value are you going to bring to their business? How are you going to make them more efficient? More competitive? More profitable? How are you going to help them solve the critical issues they’re challenged with, and either put them back on the road to success, or help them achieve greater success?
On the other end of the spectrum, your key influencers are probably the technical buyers. Unlike the executives, these guys are interested in getting their hands dirty. They do want to spend time on the nuts and bolts of your technology and product. And boy, is that a completely different language and experience than the executive conversation.
But you’re still selling the same solution or product. How different can that conversation be? And on top of that, you’re not sure if they’ll buy, and changing the message every time is time consuming and hard work! Isn’t it better to talk to more prospects, instead? They know what they’re looking for. Why not simply share the exact same message with everyone, saving time and letting them do their own translation?
Because this is your big chance to be different and stand out from the crowd. Imagine if only one of those children I met on the streets of Egypt identified me as an English speaker and began explaining his wares in a way I could understand. Meanwhile, the rest of the children continued to babble on in foreign languages, only confusing me further. This would be an easy purchase decision. I’d choose the one that helps me understand. (I’d probably even pay extra for some additional guidance and advice on how to get around town.)
It’s the same in your customer conversations. Are you clearly aligning your story with the customer’s context and what they care about? Or are you carrying on in your native tongue?
— by Mike Miller,
Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.
Check out our new The Power of Story webinar to learn more, and stay tuned next month for Part Two from Mike Miller!