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Buzzword Bingo, Sales Edition

by David Brock on November 23rd, 2021

Some years ago, partly to overcome the boredom of PowerPoint pitches, Buzzword Bingo was developed. Whether at a conference listening to speakers wax on about how fantastic their technology and companies were, investor meetings, sales pitches, people played this game. It came from the endless buzzwords that presenters injected into their presentations to feign credibility.

We would score certain types of words differently. For example things like “cloud, edge computing, data lakes, digital transformation, resilience, scalable, gamify” would get certain scores-with heavy multipliers based on the number of times they were mentioned in one chart or presentation.

Then there were the acronyms, things like “SaaS, XaaS, CLV, SEO, CPC, NPS, FOMO, IoT” generated double and triple points. The more a presenter packed into a presentation, the more the implied credibility. Even if most of us didn’t know the meaning of the acronym, it had to be important to get acronym status, and the presenter must be wickedly smart in using those words.

There is something attractive about buzzwords, the imply credibility, knowledge, and experience. After all, if you knew those buzzwords and could use them in a sentence, you must be very good.

Several years ago, I remember being at a conference, where in the middle of a presentation filled with the most current buzzwords, someone shouted out, “Bingo!” The crowd burst out in laughter while the speaker thought he had made a great point–eliciting the word Bingo–which can be used in several ways.

Sales and marketing is filled with buzzwords. Using them with other sales/marketing people immediately increases your credibility. If you link enough of them together in a sentence or paragraph, you become a thought leader. And, as with normal buzzword bingo, generating an acronym is even more meaningful.

Some of the biggest buzzwords, these days, are disrupt, transformation, and digital. If you could link them together in one phrase like “disruptive digital transformation,” you get a 10x multiplier for your score.

And as always, acronyms are important. We’ve long had BANT, ABC, AIDA. MQLs, SALs, BDR, SDR, AE are increasingly part of the language.

I sometime dream of hearing a pitch that is 70% acronyms. Something like, “SDRs, BDRs, AEs are ABC, using BANT and AIDA to increase MQLs and SQLs.” (We do need a few verbs, adjectives and adverbs to connect them, but the acronyms need to be the majority.)

Then there is the category of buzzwords used to imply trustworhiness. Using these words is supposed to make the prospect feel the sales person is more interested in the prospect success, even though all the care about is getting the order and separating the prospect from their money. Often sales people use the “T-word” itself: trusted advisor, trustworthy, and so forth. Surrogates that feign interest in customer success are “partner, collaborate, alliance.” I get prospecting letters suggesting a collaboration so I can buy their product.

Sometimes, I get sadistic pleasure in using those words in responding to prospecting outreaches. I contact the sales person, saying, “I’d love to collaborate…” I know the sales person is immediately thinking, “I won’t have to discount this one, let me close on a full price order.” But I continue, “It seems you need my services or may want to buy our training programs to increase your credibility in your prospecting outreach in demonstrating your value add to your prospects….” (Notice the subtle use of buzzwords in my response. I’m using so many in sequence, it overwhelms the sales person, plus I’ve been agile (double points) in how I have twisted collaboration on them.).

Usually, after I turn these collaborative and partnering outreaches back on the sales person, there’s a long pause. Eventually, there is a defeated response, “You don’t understand, I just want you to buy my product….”

I’ll stop here, but I want to create a challenge.

Respond to this post with your 5 favorite sales or marketing buzzwords and your 5 favorite acronyms. After that, we can get a virtual game of buzzword bingo going.

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