A lot of you might be scratching your heads, “What is Dave talking about, all our customers speak Mandarin, or English, or Spanish, or Japanese, or Australian (Yeah, I still struggle with Australian)?” I struggle with French and German, usually beginning conversations with “Parlez vous Anglais?” “Sprichst du Englisch?” I’m relieved when they say “Yes…”
When we speak a common language, we are able to connect and communicate effectively with each other. And when we don’t…..
Despite my struggles with speaking different languages, I think Foreign Language Training must be mandatory for every seller. CROs must start charging their Sales Enablement organizations with Foreign Language Training for all sellers.
The Foreign Language, which very few sellers speak, is the language of our customers, the language of business!
Classically, we speak the language of our products. We talk about features, functions, capabilities. And our customers struggle to understand because they are focused on their businesses and what they are trying to achieve.
Sometimes, we are lucky, our customers may be frequent buyers, so they are bilingual, they know how to speak the language about products. Most of the time, our customers struggle to understand. They buy rarely, they know a few things they should consider, but there is always some loss in the translation. We say, “here are the capabilities of our products,” they struggle to translate that into what it means to them and the business issues they seek to address.
It’s remarkable when we encounter a bilingual seller. They speak the customers’ language. They understand the business challenges and issues the customer faces. They understand the impact of these business issues and can express the impact of these in language that is meaningful to the customer, usually terms like profit/loss, cost reduction, improved efficiency/effectiveness/productivity, and so forth.
These bilingual sellers can translate the language of our product/solutions into impact and meaning to the customers and their business.
And, as you might guess, the customers are much more comfortable and confident when we speak their language. They know we are connecting and engaging, we are building their trust through our understanding. We can help them manage their change/buying process more effectively, minimizing miscommunication.
Our conversations and progress take much less time, because we speak in their language, we accomplish more in every engagement. We don’t have to take the time to translate, we don’t have to help correct translation errors.
Sadly, we don’t teach our sellers to speak in the languages of our customers. We make it their responsibility to hire a translator, or we struggle to connect. It’s like the struggles I have when I visit China, I only know a few words in Mandarin, and if they don’t speak English, we struggle. It takes a lot more time, and too often we fail.
Everything is so much easier when we speak the same language, we connect, we build trust, we build confidence, we accomplish more in less time, and with higher impact.
Parlez vous “business?”
Afterword: I’ve reached out to Babbel and Rosetta Stone to see if they have “Business” as one of the languages they provide.