Reading an article the other day, I was struck by how the traditional language of business development feels closer to all-out warfare than a mutually beneficial relationship. The author wrote about how we should ‘target’, ‘acquire’, ‘manage’, ‘chase’ and ‘optimise’ clients and prospects. Then, he went on, we need to ‘close’ or even ‘shut down’ sales. (I didn’t finish the article.)
What many people underestimate is the impact of this kind of language on our working life. Aggressive language just isn’t compatible with creating an environment where genuine and open conversations can occur with clients.
Happily some better language has started to emerge – many sales and account teams now talk about ‘nurturing’ and ‘engaging’. A bit cheesy perhaps, but better.
But my favourite clients are those who take it a step further – using words like ‘care’ and even ‘love’ to describe their client-facing functions. Sales guru Kim Duke advises her clients who hate selling to think of it as ‘helping’. She sees that getting the right words in place creates a new mindset too. And when we think differently we act differently.
So why not try changing the inward facing language you use? You might just get a whole new external perspective.