We live in a world of IT acronyms, engineering acronyms and business acronyms. Acronyms are created by forming abbreviations from the first letter (or number) in each word of a phrase. Oh, by the way (BTW), IT stands for information technology.
Over time, these acronyms grow into the popularized and preferred shorthand version of the original phrase. (I won’t even delve into Twitter acronyms, LOL).
We sling acronyms around like confetti at a New Year’s Party. We assume everyone knows what we are talking about – especially when we are speaking to customers. That is not a wise assumption to make.
People do not do business with people they cannot understand.
Your current and prospective customers simply may not know what you are saying at them when you speak in IT acronyms or any other form of acronym.
How many of your customers mentally disconnect from conversations because their brains are busy trying to translate your acronyms into words and phrases they understand? That brain activity is tiring. These decision makers may not use these acronyms on a daily basis, like you do.
There is a tsunami of IT-related acronyms. Overall, my reading today included nearly 25 acronyms, some defined, some undefined.
Are you talking about IoT (Internet of Things), MSPs (managed IT service providers or, alternatively, the Minneapolis airport), APIs (application programming interface), DevOps (development-operations cultural collaboration), BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management), M2M (machine-to-machine)?
I’m an exception. I continuously Google acronyms when I read informational articles on business and technology. I take the time to make sure that my interpretation of the acronym is, in fact, what that writer or speaker intended. Some acronyms can have multiple meanings depending on the type of business or technology involved.
I’m not like your customers. Your customers do not make it a habit to define acronyms they read or hear. That is why overuse of business, IT and engineering acronyms are impediments to developing business.
Make it a habit to define acronyms during the course of your conversations.
Here are four ways you can prevent IT acronyms from killing your business development initiatives.
- Define acronyms during the course of each customer conversation.
- Understand who is sitting at the business table and their functional areas. Identify, in advance, some of the acronyms they use each day. Make sure you understand what these acronyms mean.
- Watch for signals of acronym overload. If someone looks confused, re-define the acronym. If you are confused, ask the speaker to define the acronym.
- Make sure everyone is always on the same acronym page.
Your goal, as a business person of worth, is to become a trusted resource for your customers. You won’t be able to achieve this goal if your clients need to reference a dictionary in order to comprehend you.
Let’s have some fun.
Keep a tally of how many acronyms you read today. Keep track of how many of these acronyms are defined.
Then conduct a separate tally. How many times do you use acronyms during the day? Defined or undefined? How about your colleagues?
Use your findings as the basis for a provocative conversation with your team. Your goal: making sure your customers understand you. All of the time.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your BI for the day (interpreting the words of my 10 year old friend, Layla). And oh, btw, BI means Big Idea!! (instead of Business Intelligence, and the 91 other definitions I found). 😉
Babette N. Ten Haken builds innovative, productive and profitable teams focused on excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook on collaboration hacks, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.