Sales and leadership: buzzwords and empty phrases.

Sales and leadership: buzzwords and empty phrases. 626 417 Bruno Sireyjol

Certain words and phrases, despite sounding impressive, often lack substance. In this article, we explore some of the buzzwords in the realm of sales and sales leadership. A bit of humor inspired by real life situations before the holiday season.


Win/Win: a passive mentality in the negotiation phase, consisting of accepting any request from the other party without reciprocation, until you find yourself with no alternative but the worst acceptable scenario, while trumpeting that every concession has been made in the customer’s interest.


Sales scientist: see also revenue architect. Refers to sales consultants paid as if they had invented a vaccine or build castle in the air. Use recipes that have worked for who knows where and when, generally available in any sales manual. Will soon be replaced by AI.


“Makes sense?” question asked to the audience during a leadership meeting by a person confused or moderately convinced by his or her own pitch. Alternatively, answer given by a leader already focused on the next meeting who will “give it some thoughts” later. Or never.


Driving accountability: low belief in people ability to make things happen; veers towards obsession and micromanagement when leaders think people will never figure it out without them.


Let’s think outside the box: a signal designed to encourage creative thinking about a problem or situation. Likely to end up with brainstorming or post-its sessions until marketing realizes the box is too small for them and salespeople consider they should first define the size of the box.


Innovative: see also cutting edge, revolutionary, game changing, groundbreaking. Catch all terms namely used by marketing and sales professional in the software industry based on a false assumption their product and services superiority and neither able to articulate how their features and functions translates into customer real benefits nor fathom what is cooking in their competitors’ R&D department.


Disruptive: the response given by sales and marketing when challenged to find a substitute for “innovative”. “Yeah, but it’s even stronger”. These sales professionals usually think that technology S Curves can be found on Formula 1 racing tracks, that value networks is where you find valuable people to build relationship with, and that Clayton M. Christensen is a famous Danish singer.


Value: a term often confused by sales people with customer benefits, differentiators, return on investment, or a bit of everything. Also used by managers to ask stupid questions and hide their ignorance about a deal during forecast calls, while everything is in Salesforce.


Revenue projections: a recurring and demanding 12-month rolling exercise requiring courage, analysis and strategic thinking, which precedes internal negotiations on resource allocation and staffing. Often reduced to a one-way discussion with the board about what needs to be done and how.


Quotas allocation: supposed to be a reasonable outcome of an open discussion based on historical performance, productivity, portfolio life cycle and market maturity. It often boils down to a cascading decision from the CFO downwards, and is commonly translated by the expression “the numbers are baked”. Exercise completed quickly by sales manager the last month of the fiscal year between closing deals by distributing ballpark figures between top performers.


Account allocation: based on tiering, propensity to buy, and weighted account potential in advanced sales organization. In reality, it is likely to depend heavily on the sales manager’s relationship with such or such rep or rep’s negotiation skills. Sales managers objections handling techniques vary from “there must something there” to “if there is something there, you are the one to find out”.


A Player term used to define one-time performers with no clue how the performance can be replicated since recruitment and assessment criteria are based on generic words like “ambition”, “charisma”, “stamina” or “team spirit”.


Mindfulness: mindset and technique consisting in acknowledging thoughts and feelings without becoming overly reactive. Designed to enhance interpersonal relations. Often promoted by benevolent HR Whisperers Human Capital Architect who resign after attending a couple of end-of-quarter forecast sessions.


We sincerely hope you appreciate that, for once, we’ve ventured beyond the themes of operational and commercial excellence. We could have added digital transformation to the list, but there’s so much to say on the subject. The tone is lighter as the holiday season approaches, but the message remains the same:


Think. Good selling.