Play terminology by ear when selling to the mid-market

Those who sell BI software to mid-size companies get to be good at nailing down what shoppers want. These shoppers are smart and hard working. But when they shop for technology, the shopping list may be just a problem, a wish, or a fantasy—known only by a description.

I just spent Monday and Tuesday helping a client sell his BI software at Sage Summit in Denver. I also wandered around to other booths.

Don Farber, VP of sales and marketing at KnowledgeSync, which among its products is automatic alerts, describes a common conversation: “I tell him he may need alerts, and the guy says, ‘No, I don’t need alerts. I need this, this, and this,’ and he describes alerts.’”

When you’re fooling with terminology, you just have to play it by ear.

I’m combing through notes and business cards for a BI This Week story. Farber’s two stories—the other one’s coming soon– are the best I’ve heard.


  1. Barbara says:

    This is so true. And it cuts both ways. Larger midsize companies have IT teams who are knowledgeable about BI, and if you don’t use all of the most proper complex jargon with them, they think you’re a lightweight solution that doesn’t do what they need or, worse, that you’re a team of idiots who just happened to create what they wanted the first time, but what about in the future? In smaller companies, the business person is making technology purchase decisions and finds technical jargon confusing and misleading. Instead of “WebDAV” they want to hear “automated uploading” or, even better, “set it and forget it uploading.” Since the midmarket is so large and so varied, you have to be very careful about appealing to both audiences without turning them off.

  2. Dan Murray says:

    There’s a large space which isn’t being serviced well by the current players. Many companies in the 50 to 250 employee size range don’t have the technical language down. While what Barbara said in her post is true, I think the number of entities who don’t have the staff or technical knowledge is a much larger group.

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