“ERP and BI in the SMB: Bringing Light to Data in the Shadows.”

That’s the title of a paper from a company I subscribe to on business practices. As you can imagine they are a tough read. Here’s some help. (ERP) Stands for Enterprise Resource Planning (whatever that is.) Did that help? I didn’t think so. (BI) stands for Business Intelligence. I feel your pain – not much help either. (SMB) stands for Small and Mid-Sized Businesses.

So the actual title translates to: “Enterprise Resource Planning and Business Intelligence in the Small to Medium Sized Business: Bringing Light to Data In The Shadows.” You’re right the shorter title is much better.


Inside jargon that only insiders know. It’s a business killer when you use it with uneducated customers. Have you ever spent five hours talking to an insurance salesperson? Actually it was only about half and hour. It just seemed like five hours. Annuities, indemnify, whole life, term, intermediaries, actuarial tables and more make all our eyes glaze over.

Please understand that I’m not picking on insurance salespeople. I used to be one of them in my former life. In fact I’ve work for 25 different companies in 17 different industries. So I know a lot of inside buzzwords for all kinds of industries and each and every industry has them.

Put Yourself In the Customers Shoes

Many people think that if you talk in these kinds of terms it makes you sound more professional, or knowledgeable. In most cases it just makes your customer uncomfortable by making them feel stupid and uninformed.

Ever talked to an auto mechanic? Yeah, I was one of those too. Took auto mechanics in college. Most of us are way out of the loop when it comes to our modern day computerized cars. I have to go home and Google the stuff on the bill just to see what part of the car it might pertain to.

Educate Your Customers

If you are trying to do business with someone, what are you really doing? There are two choices; one, you are trying to manipulate them into buying anything so you can make a buck or; two, you are trying to find the best solution that will solve your customer’s problem. I like to think of it as recommending a movie.

When you recommend a movie to a friend what do you do? You talk about the cast and the story line, without giving away the ending of course. You might ask your friend if they like comedies or dramas or action flicks. When you are selling you are doing the same thing. Think of yourself as an assistant buyer.

Some Final Thoughts

Communication is key to understanding. The things we fear most are the things we know least about. Whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral it can still be scary. Take my advice. If you would like to sound smart do it among your peers not with your “bread and butter.”

Customers deserve respect. Don’t take for granted that they understand because they will nod yes, walk away, and buy elsewhere — after someone takes the time to explain what the heck you were talking about. Translate your buzzwords into common words we can all understand and watch you business grow.