Does jargon sell tech products or not?

November 25, 2008
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Those of us in the tech world who shun jargon may forever remain an underclass. We may never rise to the mainstream, where today tech-centric vendors rule. So I’m delighted when I meet another one of our clan who declares proudly his rejection of tech-speak.

Don Farber, vice president of sales and marketing at KnowledgeSync, says that to reach business customers, you have to use words they understand. For many buyers in the mid-market, that means

Those of us in the tech world who shun jargon may forever remain an underclass. We may never rise to the mainstream, where today tech-centric vendors rule. So I’m delighted when I meet another one of our clan who declares proudly his rejection of tech-speak.

Don Farber, vice president of sales and marketing at KnowledgeSync, says that to reach business customers, you have to use words they understand. For many buyers in the mid-market, that means avoiding any jargon at all.

Here’s how he orders a steak: “I ask for ‘pink in the middle.’ When the waiter asks me, ‘Rare?’ I say, ‘I don’t care what you call it, just give me a steak that’s pink in the middle.’”

We have to be careful, though. Some buyers in the mid-market watch for tech words as if it were a secret handshake. One insightful Datadoodle reader read about Farber’s approach last week and posted a reply that began like this:

This is so true. And it cuts both ways. Larger midsize companies have IT teams who are knowledgeable about BI, and if you don’t use all of the most proper complex jargon with them, they think you’re a lightweight solution that doesn’t do what they need or, worse, that you’re a team of idiots who just happened to create what they wanted the first time…

Take that, Strunk and White.

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