Episode sixty-six

How to Learn Your Customer’s Sales Language

Guest: Whitney Sales, General Partner at Acceleprise Ventures

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About This Episode

Are you speaking the same sales language as your customer? Are you sure?

To truly understand a prospect’s language, you need to understand their unique context, according to Whitney Sales (yes, that’s her real name), General Partner at Acceleprise Ventures and creator of The Sales Method.

What does speaking your customer’s sales language mean?

“It means talking about your product in a way that allows your customer to provide their mental context around it,” says Sales. “It’s the wording and phrasing that they would use to describe the problem that they’re trying to solve, and how your solution fits into that.”

Understanding their needs allows you to focus on the customers who need your product the most.

“One of the biggest flaws I see startups make is going after anyone who potentially buys their product, as opposed to focusing on a beachhead market,” says Sales. “I’m talking about 100, 200 customers who really resonate with the product you have developed.”

There are three things you need to look for in your beachhead markets:

  • Access
  • Pain point
  • Money


Simply put, can you get in front of the buyer? You need to communicate with them based on the medium that they’re using.

What social networks, what websites do they use to find out how to cure their pain points? If possible, lurk in those sites to see how they are communicating about what matters most to them.

Whitney Sales Sales Language 1

“When our founders are trying to get in touch with VCs, we look to see if they’re active on Twitter. Because if they’re active on Twitter, you can direct tweet them. And more than likely, they’re going to respond,” says Sales. “With Twitter, the communication is going to be short and direct.”

On the answer site Quora, the vibe is totally different. You don’t sell; you teach. There are many companies that mandate staff regularly visit Quora to see what questions they can answer. This will frequently move into a one-to-one exchange with the person who is asking the questions.


Does the person you are targeting have the pain point that your solution solves?

Within your target markets, different buying personae have different pain points. The buying personae also have different impacts on making the sale. There are influencers and decision makers.

“Everyone’s used LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The pain [Sales Navigator] solves for the salesperson is very different from the pain point it solves for the larger organization,” says Sales. “So the salesperson is looking to get in touch with their buyer. Whereas the larger organization is looking for demand generation.”

You need to be able to speak to that specific pain point and show that you can relieve it.


Although the pain is felt in one level of an organization, the money is actually going to come from the larger organization in most cases. So you need to speak to the person who actually has the money to spend. You’re not going to talk to the salesperson feeling the pain.

Use their objection language to make the sale

Objections are part of the sales process and learning the specific language your target audience uses is gold. You’ll see that objections on sites like Quora take the form of two types of questions:

  • process-oriented questions
  • value-oriented questions.

“Usually the value-oriented questions are gaps in knowledge. It gives you an opportunity to drive thought leadership because if the market is having an objection around value, usually there’s something that they don’t understand,” says Sales. “Then you’re driving engagement education versus selling directly.”

Have your customers teach you their language

The best source of language is the customer. If you’re a company that has current customers, you should interview them, do case studies about why they bought your product and what value they’re deriving from it.

Ask them to describe how your product fits into their business.

If you, like many startups, don’t have current customers, find someone who fits your ideal customer profile.

“Ask them how they would describe the product to someone else and what pain points they see it solving. It’s right there. You’re educating yourself and getting your customer to give you the answers.”

If you can’t get a potential customer interview, watch members of your target persona online to find out how they speak about the problem that your product solves.

In sales, your goal is to get your customers to give you all the answers first and then you just tell repeat back what they were already saying.

Pitching 50 times a day at a conference

If you want to really accelerate your ability to speak in the language of your customers, Sales recommends that you attend a large conference where they congregate.

Whitney Sales Sales Language 2

“When you have to pitch a product over and over again, you notice the subtle nuances of how you change your language based on how a person’s responding to it,” says Sales. “What would normally take 50 sales calls, you can do in a face to face conversation really quickly. If you come at it from that standpoint of honing your pitch, it’s like doing 50 customer interviews in a single day and it’s amazing.”

Final advice

“If you don’t want to pitch, ask questions instead. Ask for more context,” says Sales. “The goal of selling is to get your customers to tell you everything you need to know. That comes from questions versus pitches.”

You can contact Whitney Sales at Whitney@Acceleprise.vc. You can also find her on Twitter @thesalesmethod.  

This post is based on a podcast interview with Whitney Sales, General Partner at Acceleprise Ventures and creator of The Sales Method. To hear this episode and many more like it, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.


About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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