Monthly Archives: July 2014

Buzzword Buzzkill—How to Turn Away Customers in Droves Without Even Trying

by Gail Z. Martin

Using all that alphabet-soup of abbreviations and acronyms can get you into trouble!

I saw this happen when I was in an elevator in downtown Charlotte.  We were in a high-rise building, not too long after 9/11.  And we were all there in our business suits, riding upstairs, and two guys behind me start talking.

One guys says, “Oh geez, Jim—did you get the BOM?”

The other guy says, “I don’t have the BOM, Pete.  I thought you had the BOM?”

Well it got really quiet in that elevator.  We were all holding our breaths.  I could see that people were doing these nervous little glances to the side.  I thought maybe someone would tackle these two guys.

And then I looked down and I saw that the men standing behind Jim and Pete had Men-In-Black-style government issue shoes….and I remembered that the FBI had an office in our building, and they also have the best roller shutters for security from

Apparently, that’s when Pete and Jim remembered, too.  And Pete said….”Uh, we work for First Union’s Accounts Payable department and that’s a Bill of Materials…..B-O-M…..paperwork, you know?”

It’s a lot funnier now than it was at the time…and I bet Pete and Jim never forgot it, either! But it goes to show you what kind of trouble industry-speak can get you into.


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#1 Secret to Success: Keep it simple.

by Gail Z. Martin

Do you make it hard for people to do business with you?

Are your prospects easily able to figure out what you do and how it would help them solve their problems?

In my experience, businesses often lose sales because prospects aren’t entirely sure what services the business provides and how those services can make a direct impact on the customer’s bottom line. If your customers don’t see immediately how they can see a big positive impact, they won’t buy.

One of the ways businesses often unintentionally turn off interested prospects is with industry jargon and buzzwords. Buzzwords are buzzkill. They make people’s eyes glaze over if they do know what the words mean, and they’re just blah-blah-blah to people who don’t know them. Not only that, but buzzwords have been so overused that they become meaningless.

Compare this “We help you prioritize management objectives to optimize your metrics with impactful outcomes” to this: “We help you create an action list to get big, measurable results.”

Which one makes you more willing to buy?

Don’t make your customers, your Facebook friends, your YouTube watchers have to look up what you say in the dictionary or skip over unfamiliar words. In other words…..don’t use jargon.

Now I know sometimes you’re not even aware when you start talking in buzz words.  After all, everyone you work with probably uses the same secret language.  Abbreviations, acronyms, industry-speak words… those are great when you’re talking to your colleagues, but they leave customers confused.

Confused customers don’t buy.

Not only that, but when people are confused, they’ve lost track of what you can do for them, what problem you solve, what benefit you provide.  They don’t know what you do…so they walk away.

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