When their eyes roll back in their head…

eye roll
Creative Commons License photo credit: striatic

It’s a hint that they’re no longer listening. Really.

Even Robert Scoble (aka Scobleizer) appears to be getting a little frustrated by the apparent inability of tech people to talk to Jane and Jerry Small Business Owner, despite demonstrated expertise in providing tech news.

Bottom line, until you figure out a way to save the geekspeak for Dungeons and Dragons night at Starbucks and talk to your prospects in terms of business results, product benefits, time savings and return on investment, you’ll *never* consistently sell your solution to small business owners.

Yeah, maybe that D and D crack was a bit over the top, but I had to make a point:)

I know you’re really excited about the gigaflops, XML-RPC, LINQ, megabits, megapixels, bailing wire, duct tape and what not…but dude, it like so totally isn’t about that stuff to a small business owner.

Of course, if you’re one of the groups who has mastered this act, keep working on it. Someday, others in your market might catch on, so you need to keep your lead.

Open the conversation

Things to ask yourself before opening the conversation: What’s in it for them, in their terms?

This means a little work on your part:

  • You need to know your customers’ business.
  • You need to know their lingo.
  • You need to know what keeps them up at night (other than the neighbor’s dog).

Yeah, it isn’t always easy – but it is worth the effort to put you well ahead of all those who insist on talking about the technology.

2 replies on “When their eyes roll back in their head…”

  1. Spot on! I’ve been making a standards document for not only me, but my other developers. It will never be finished.

    But one of the standards I placed in it for my developers is that technical terms are not visible in any program we make. Instead of “Record Will Be Added” (which is also weak grammar), we replace such messages with “Adding Customer” or “Adding Employee” (stronger grammar as a bonus). Why? Does everyone know what a “Record” is? If an image of pressed vinyl pops into your head, imagine your confusion trying to figure out how that applies to a computer.

    Potential users of my programs are business people who are already nervous about technology. “If I press that button, the world will end and everyone will know its my fault!”

    So make a business program that speaks their lingo. Computer programs must be inviting, not intimidating. As an educator as well as programmer, I’ve found only the glib like to toss out lingo in order to impress someone else. And that even extends to their programs.

    These are just some of the reasons I ban computer technical terms from the visible area of any business application. Its a small thing really. How many other small things are in a program that will add up to a “it sucks” major thing?

    I find establishing standards like this saves a LOT of work down the road, not to mention support traffic.

    1. From what Ive seen, even one of those small things can become a major thing – if its the wrong small thing. Thanks for sharing your standards document strategy.

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