Why We Need a Common Sales Language

Most of our clients share a common corporate language. And that lingua franca has become “English”. Even if they are an international organization with offices all over the world, English is the way employees communicate with each other , at least officially. This only makes sense, because it streamlines communication and it is the best way to avoid misunderstandings that can happen during translation. But what about a shared Sales Language? In a consultative sales environment the language we use is key to the success of an organization.

In our work with so many organizations we’ve observed that many companies don’t share a common language when it comes to Sales. This can lead to confusion and sometimes to mismanaged expectations.

Our most successful clients understand that having a common Sales Language is key to success.

Too many sales leaders use generic terminology when managing their people. They talk about opportunities, leads, closing rates, probabilities and prospecting but they don’t define those terms.

1) Define Your Terminology

When developing a Sales Process, the terminology should be defined and agreed upon. On a tactical level it should be defined what an opportunity is vs. a lead. Do you have clients or customers? What are objections and what are stalls? When you talk about decision makers, are you referring to the people who sign the checks, or to the influencers? And do these roles change during the course of working for a client, and how can a sales professionals effectively influence the decision-maker to mutual gain?

The list goes on and on, but the important point is that whenever a sales manager leads a sales meeting and makes a reference, everybody in the room or on the phone should be clear on what she/he is referring to.

2) Use Parameters to Refine Your Terminology

The best way to manage expectations and to develop a shared language is to use parameters to establish a term. For example, when do you refer to a lead vs. an opportunity? Do you refer to a prospect as such, or do you call them targets? When Value is mentioned, does everybody within the company understand what that means? If these terms are not clearly defined, things will get lost in translation.

Related: Where Most Sales People Fail

3) Accountability is Key

In the end, it’s all about the bottom line. A clearly defined and communicated Sales Process will provide a roadmap that will yield to a common Sales Language. Once everybody within the organization understands expectations and there is a framework for everybody to be successful, it’s a matter of making sure that the methodology will be implemented and adhered to. This can only happen when sales management guides their teams to navigate through the process, using the language that was defined and coaching their people accordingly.