Big Words

Have you noticed that the bigization of words is a growing problem in sales?

Here’s a theory for you.

The average sales development rep is younger than ever. More 20-somethings are selling to 40-somethings. If you’re a fresh-out-of-college sales development rep, the contrast in experience, achievement, and power between you and your buyer can be terrifying. As a result, reps use big words and dry, businessy language to try to gain legitimacy with their buyers.

Of course, however, big words won’t make you sound more professional. Instead, they add layers of confusion between you and your buyer—layers that make your conversation difficult to understand, layers that make your conversation less relatable, layers that can ruin your call.

How do you know if you might be going overboard with big words? Try this test.

If you’ve used the word “utilize” in the past week, you might be a youngin’.

If you’ve used the word “streamline” in the past week, you might be a youngin’.

If you’ve used the word “algorithm” in the past week, you might be a youngin’.


Sales expert David Sandler said it best.

Explain your solution like you’re selling to a 6-year-old.

As you explain your product’s value, push yourself to use words that no one could misunderstand. Your buyer should be able to understand what you’re saying so easily that she’s often a step ahead of you.

Your buyer should be able to finish your sentences.

In your sales conversations, when your buyer doesn’t understand what you’re communicating, there are only two possible outcomes. The better outcome is that she stops you and asks you to clarify. The worse outcome – and the far more common one – is that she pretends to understand and becomes less engaged with each passing second.

Avoid both scenarios with clear, simple, natural language.

To clarify, the point isn’t that you shouldn’t use smart vocabulary. If you’re looking for a word to describe the full set of the people who might be affected by a particular business decision, then “stakeholders” might be just right. But if that’s not the case, take a moment think about what you’re really trying to communicate. Most often, instead of “stakeholders”, the words “co-workers” or “people on your buying team” will do you just fine.

Consider a final example. Would you rather buy an innovative disruption engine or a phone that allows you to use the Internet wherever you go?

David Sandler got it right. Steve Jobs got it right. Simplicity sells.

Yours on the grind,


P.S. This article is coming to you from a tried and true youngin’. It took me too long to realize that talking about streamlined algorithms was hurting my calls. Hopefully, this article spares you some trouble.

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