How to Speak the Language of Decision Makers

How to Speak the Language of Decision Makers

These days, top salespeople know to speak the language of their clients. If your client is a straight-shooting, direct communicator (think New York stereotype), you can be equally direct with them. If your client is reserved (think Midwest farmer’s daughter), direct communication can be intimidating. While it can be tough enough speaking with one buyer and understanding their style, today’s challenges and uncertainty make buyers extra cautious. As a result, sellers can expect more players in average-size deals—and that tops the more than six in “normal” times. In addition, each has their own needs and communication styles. To connect with the most people, today’s sellers don’t have to be multilingual, but it helps to be conversant. Here are tips for speaking the different dialects of decision makers:


While the C-suite can be the most important group to win over, they can also be the easiest to talk to. When approaching one of these VIPs, think in their terms. A busy group, with their fingers in every pie, they don’t have time to dilly dally or haggle. Basically, they want to know what you got, the problem it will solve, how much it costs, and/or how much it’ll save. Therefore, consider the following:

  • Speak of their bottom line/ROI
  • Be brief
  • Know their pains and your solutions
  • Get to the numbers quickly and illustrate how much a solution costs/saves now and in the future

Chances are, if you’re meeting with the C-suite, you’ve already made a good impression. Rather than overdoing it or trying too hard, keep it simple, straightforward, and appeal to what’s most important to them: the bottom line.


Directors oversee departments. Whether it’s sales, marketing, purchasing, or materials management, someone with this title typically has a hive mentality. Their success often depends on how their team works with other departments or outside organizations. Therefore, use language that emphasizes ways to keep their team communicating smoothly. Consider these tips:

  • Speak of “alignment,” “integration,” and “symmetry”
  • Show how the solution increases communication and simplifies workflow
  • Use diagrams, graphs, pie charts, etc. as visual guides to show rather than tell
  • Incorporate Venn diagrams to effectively illustrate commonality, integration, and relationships

For sellers, it helps to remember directors are the bridge between managers and the C-suite. As such, they often wield considerable decision-making powers. In addition, they are highly budget conscious. In fact, their positions often depend on the prudent use of their resources. As such, you want to emphasize the value of your solutions over the long term.

Information Technology

Due to their tech wizardry and highly specialized language, IT people are often misunderstood. While they may or may not attend Star Trek conventions, they are often educated and proud. They can also be competitive, so avoid going head-to-head in technical debates that challenge their expertise. Instead, appeal to their problem-solving instincts:

  • Use tech language to show you know your own and your competition’s products
  • Focus on the nuts and bolts of a solution over price
  • Display how a product works
  • Provide detailed specifications for their inspection
  • Invite their feedback
  • Enlist a more tech savvy colleague to address complex questions or concerns

Though techies can seem haughty at first, their primary interest is cool gadgets and how they work. If a solution is similar to your competition’s, they will be the first to tell you. That’s why it’s essential you are well informed. Know how your products offer more value over the long-term. Also, rather than get in over your head, enlist your own experts for demos while you focus on rapport.


Effective managers often have a team-first mentality. Their primary concern is the enthusiasm, motivation, and success of their own people. After all, when their people are successful, they themselves are successful. When selling to managers, consider the following:

  • Lead with ease of use/productivity
  • Discuss convenience, set-up, and downtime
  • Consider needs of both on-site and remote team members
  • Go over maintenance and procedures to keep solutions operating at optimal levels
  • Talk about service and warranty benefits in terms of maintaining productivity

When presenting to managers, be mindful of budgets. Remembers, these decision makers often have bonuses and other incentives tied to their budgets. However, unlike the C-suite, their primary motivation is steering their ship over their bottom line. Therefore, tailor your approach and language to appeal to their managerial/nurturing instincts.

End Users

While end users are typically the most hands-on team members, they may or may not have a say in choosing solutions. However, their input is vital to supervisors and managers. Often, these team members’ productively is an essential concern of everyone up the food chain. Therefore, when selling to end users, be sure of the following:

  • Engage, instruct, and effectively communicate the benefits of your solutions
  • Highlight convenience and ease of use
  • Address daily concerns, such as reliability and troubleshooting
  • Emphasize useful tips and tricks
  • Demonstrate how your solutions are improvements over current products

Although they often don’t have a say on which products they use, end users still have influence. When addressing these team members, sellers should appeal to their immediate concerns over anything longer term. Remember to address issues that matter most, such as boosting productivity and learning new skills in pursuit of raises, titles, and larger professional goals.

Though not nearly as complex as language and cultural barriers in international negotiations, speaking the language of decision makers is still an important consideration. Today, with all the challenges and uncertainty facing both sellers and buyers, communication is more important than ever. Those sellers who understand the intricacies of their buyer’s communication styles, language, and specific concerns will be better positioned to build relationships and provide the solutions their clients need.