On the Importance of Language in the Sales Process
Besides their tenaciousness, their green homeland, and their spirits, the Irish are also known for their love of language.
Think of some of the greatest writers of the past few centuries—Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift, and, of course, James Joyce, author of the groundbreaking modernist works, Finnegans Wake and Ulysses.
All hail from Éire, the “Emerald Isle.” Theirs is a literary tradition that spans centuries, with tangible origins as a far back as the 5th century CE.
In fact, after Latin and Greek, Irish Gaelic literature is considered to be the third oldest literary language in all of Europe.
Due to revival efforts started after Ireland declared its independence, the country has been making a conscious, concentrated effort to revitalize and revive its use of the Irish language, which is now an official language along with English.
Perhaps Ireland’s love of literature and of its original tongue can be best summed up with this quote by Irish poet Pádraig Pearse: “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam. A country without a language is a country without a soul.”
As March in the U.S. is a month in which St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish are on one’s mind, I started thinking about Ireland’s relationship with its language and the importance of language in business development in particular.
While Americans, regrettably, are not known for their prowess in other languages, we still have the ability to be fluent and versatile in other kinds of English. Different dialects, language subsets, registers, and styles, if you will.
Never is this more apparent and vital than in the world of marketing and sales. In order to sell anything, you need to understand your audience.
In order to understand your audience, you need to speak their language. Use their words, sentiments, colloquial lingo.
Convey the proper tone of voice, depending on each situation.
The same, of course, goes with marketing—with branding. Which words do you choose to use in an ad, a video, a website, a slogan? How do you write them? What syntax do you utilize?
The use of language drives the sale, the market. How else do you entice customers? Keep them? Gather relevant information, uncover latent and hidden needs in order to make the sale?
During my day-to-day operations at COACT, I am—whether consciously or not—deliberately particular in the words I use, the pace at which I communication, the ways in which I establish credibility while maintaining the stance that is needed in order to ask relevant questions, determine if the client is a good fit, or move to the next level in the sales process.
Every touch point COACT offers, every time we reach out to prospects on behalf of our very diverse client profile is orchestrated and calculated, sometimes slowly, strategically, other times naturally and organically.
Our words can build up or undo us. In order to stay relevant, we of course need to adapt to changes in the market. The generations we speak with. The locations we are reaching out to. The sectors and industries we are playing in.
And at COACT, we value the use of language. We understand its importance. We are flexible and deliberate, all the while conveying the integrity of our messages and our clients and doing so in a way that seems effortless. And in some ways, it is effortless.
And with those closing thoughts, I must go, for a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s is calling my name. That, and some good Irish stew and a pint of fresh Guinness with an inch-worth of delicious foam.
As they say in Ireland, “Slán leat!”
*Note: This article was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated and revised for relevance.