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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

I was in a customer meeting with my co-founder Adam Gray the other day and Adam tells a story.

There is a 100 meters sprint, lined up are Usain Bolt, Linford Christie, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Tyson Gay, Donovan Bailey, Christine Arron and you. The gun is fired and 10 seconds later Usain, Linford, Florence, Tyson, Donovan and Christine will have passed the finishing line … you will probably have not.

I’ve started running 5K, which I thought at 30 minutes was pretty good, until a mate of mine put on facebook he could do 5K in sub 20 minutes. For me to cut 10 minutes off my 5K will probably take me a year of intensive training.

What is an Expert?

The thing is, Usain, Linford, Florence, Tyson, Donovan and Christine are experts, you and I are not.

The metaphor is similar for you and your competitors and your customer.

Your Prospects Know Nothing – You Know Everything!

You and your competitors are all experts and thinking your prospect is an expert is a major mistake.

Dave Trott in his book “Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition” makes a great point. Dave ran an advertising agency and he says that whenever you start a relationship with the client, this is the best and only time when you are the most like one of your prospects clients. As you get to know your prospect more and more, know their systems and processes, know what their products do, you become less and less able to talk in the language of your prospects client.

Case Study – Companies That Missed the Opportunity to Talk to Their Clients in a Language They Understood

For example, we had a conversation with a client, that needed to write some content, but we kept getting push back that they didn’t have time. The content needed to be on Blockchain.

  • Client: We need to get some content on Blockchain.
  • Adam Gray: We can do that for you.
  • Client: Laughs, what do you know about Blockchain?
  • Adam Gray: Nothing.
  • Adam Gray: What do you clients know about Blockchain?
  • Client: Nothing.

We ended up writing the content.

We met with a company recently and they said “what did you think of our website?”, we said, “to be honest, we don’t understand what you do from it”. It was then that the Sales VP opened up and said “yes, this is one of our problems, our founders are AI PHDs, they wrote the website and nobody understands it, can you help us?”

At my previous company they sold “ERP” and actually tuned their SEO for it on Google. Nobody knows, apart from suppliers what ERP is. Everybody else call it accounting software and that’s what “normal” people are searching for on Google. I know this as my previous company found that the only people that search for ERP are suppliers.

And that is the mistake that so many companies make.

You are experts, your client is not. Now your clients will go on-line and research for insight and knowledge, but they can never be as much as an expert as you. They change their systems, maybe once every few years, you are helping people all the time.

What can you do?

First and foremost people in Marketing and Sales need to recognise the problem. I’m not saying that you probably need to have a corporate content bonfire, but going forward you need to stop writing as experts and writing in a simple language that your customers will understand. Stop creating three letter acronyms (TLAs) that nobody will understand.

I realise your marketing / PR agency wants to get paid to write a white paper. The thing is nobody will read it. They may download it, but they will place it in the folder called “to read when I have time” that you never get around to. If it’s 300 to 500 words then somebody will read it there and then. Of course, nobody knows the article is good until they have read it. But if you put out short snappy content that is written in simple language and is good, people will read it, read it, read it. You may be a long term reader of ours, you won’t have read all the blogs, but you will know what we write is good.

You will also know, we don’t tell you how clever we are and we don’t fill it with lots of facts or ideas. One point or one idea, that’s it. That is how we are empowering sales people to write their own content. In fact all of our competitors and social selling “influencers” say that getting sales people to write is not possible. But it is possible as we do it.

One of the things we do in our social selling programs is to empower people to use a more simple language, the “tenacious, energetic, sales person” words are dispensed with and we teach people how to write with words and in a style that is relevant to your clients and prospects. 

If you are looking for a real sales transformation, contact us on social.

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