If you are a new hire at a company, you want to fit in and run with the pack, don’t you? In your mind, it is important to quickly adopt the professional mindset and use the same professional lingo that colleagues use.
The sooner you do this, the faster you establish your professional credibility, right? Wrong.
Many professionals throw around sales, engineering, IT, Big Data, predictive analytics and Lord knows IoT and industrial IoT terminology like they are confetti at a New Year’s Eve celebration.
In the Sales Aerobics for Engineers® playbooks I create for clients, slinging professional lingo is the quickest way to showcase to clients what you do not understand.
I learned that lesson long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away: my first job out of college.
You see, I was one of three women hired as a product specialist for a major plant sanitation company. I worked in a 1,300-man sales force. Get the picture?
At the regional sales meeting, my team was anxious to show off their female scientist product expert. Except I was three weeks into the job. In spite of my scientific background, I was supposed to speak about new products, services and sales commission structure. I memorized the scripts my boss gave me without thoroughly understanding its loaded context and economic significance to the sales force.
After all, from their perspective, the rest of my team was used to slinging professional lingo and schmoozing with the sales force. If it worked for them, it would work for me, right?
Except that I didn’t have a clue about what I was talking about.
I spieled whole bunches of words from various sales scripts and product information literature. What I regurgitated didn’t make sense to me. However, in my naivete, I figured if I started slinging professional lingo, the audience would buy into what I said. Sound familiar?
My boss asked me to sit down. Then he took over from me, a few minutes into my presentation.
Now, to his credit, he promptly apologized to me and to the audience. He realized he put me, a sales newbie, into that embarrassing situation. And to their credit, the sales guys in the audience all came over later, to joke with me and try to put me at ease.
Still, I remember the feeling well. Ouch.
And I made sure, from that time forward, that I understood what I was talking about before I made a presentation and spoke with decision makers. In addition, if I did not understand concepts, I asked questions from key internal resources. Also, I did my own homework and avoided accepting anecdotal information from my peers as “factual.”
If you are a peer, talk like a peer. Otherwise, slinging professional lingo across professional disciplines is risky business.
Fast forward to today. Recently, I received a phone call from the VP of Sales for a large company. He wanted to quantify the amount of Internet of Things (IoT) terminology that non-technical sales folks need to learn. Why? He wanted them to be able to pass themselves off as peers when selling to technical decision makers. (I’m not making this stuff up, folks.)
Here we go again.
I told him his sales people “need to learn” Zero terms if all they are planning on doing is slinging professional lingo. Using professional terminology to gain entry to decision makers only takes you so far.
Does your team actually and completely understand the scientific, technical and engineering context of these terms?
In my White Paper, New Strategies for Selling to Skeptical Technical Decision Makers, I go into detail about why this type of old school selling strategy remains inappropriate. Especially in complex IoT and industrial environments.
First, if a sales person is not a technical or engineering peer, why be an imposter? You will be exposed in short order. Also, if a sales person is not familiar with scientific methodology, engineering mindset and the rigors of technical validation, you easily become intimidated. Then, your credibility is shot. End of story.
Get a good dose of digital overwhelm before you attempt to start slinging professional lingo.
In my industrial IoT Playbook, simple words are far more effective than fancy ones. They always are. After all, collaborating across departmental silos and professional disciplines brings all sorts of great people together. Why let slinging professional lingo keep everyone apart?
Think about it. Then make yourself smart again. Professionally.
Here are four websites offering glossaries of professional STEM acronyms. I guarantee you will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of terms and the complexity of specialization within each discipline. No need to memorize these terms. Just familiarize yourself with a few.
There! You are on your way to understanding why it makes absolutely no sense to continue slinging professional lingo.
The most important professional habit to develop is curiosity.
Learn to ask good questions instead of slinging around professional lingo that you do not understand. You will be surprised at how engaged colleagues and decision makers become in the ensuing discussion. Even if they are from completely different professional disciplines than your own.
In my playbook, that scenario is called collaboration, not lingo slinging. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Would you like to learn how to make your team more effective communicating with technical and engineering professionals? Contact me and let’s collaborate!
Babette Ten Haken is a STEM-trained catalyst, corporate strategist, storyteller and facilitator. Her focus? How collaboration revolutionizes and humanizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain. The results? Increased customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Yes, she can sling around professional lingo, however she prefers to communicate and collaborate, instead.
Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Do you know the Top 5 Negative Customer Retention Scenarios? Find out here.
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