BS baffles brains

Very early in my career, I learned a salutary lesson demonstrating just how swiftly poor communication can turn off an audience.

A super-confident, expensively-tailored and transparently ambitious sales executive breezed into the engineering company where I was but a few short months into a graduate commercial apprenticeship, and proceeded to launch into a well-rehearsed presentation, packed to the rafters with acronyms and insider jokes, and liberally sprinkled with political and chief executive name-dropping for good measure.

The bemused silence from us, his target audience, was little short of deafening. Our questions were either answered obliquely, or dismissed with a ‘We’ve delivered hundreds of these – it won’t be a problem.” Evidently excessively pleased with himself and his slick delivery, said salesman extraordinaire swiftly exited the premises, doubtless confident of having secured the order.

My colleagues and I looked around, baffled and bemused before Doug, our resident if somewhat world-weary sage dismissed the experience with the airy summation: “Bullshit baffles brains”

That order – the first of many – was eventually placed with his more modestly-attired, plain-speaking rival who had made an art – and, it turns out, a very comfortable living – of jargon-free communication and attentive listening which left every single customer in no doubt of his product’s features and benefits, as well as his personal integrity and credibility.

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