Somebody says “Nice Haircut. Did you cut it yourself?” This comment is not a compliment, it’s an insult in the form of a compliment, or a “Complisult”. Most of us can recognize this type of comment and figure out the intent.

Our prospects and customers often speak in coded language, too. Unfortunately, many of you are not salespeople by trade, and don’t speak fluent "Customer-eze." Not understanding customers and the feedback you hear on sales calls or visits with them is today's IT SNAFU. For a handy customer-speak translation guide, read on…

Understanding “Customer-eze”

My salesperson was breathless with enthusiasm. “They really liked our proposal.” It was an eight location regional bank, and it would have been a very nice sale. Unfortunately, I had worked with this salesperson long enough to know she was overly optimistic, and had never asked any tough questions of the customer.

I mentally crossed the prospect off my manager’s funnel and waited for the bad news to arrive. It did two weeks later. She was devastated, but a stronger salesperson would have seen the warning signs.

“This is a very nice proposal” is a version of the complisult, and it means the opposite of how it sounds. The customer was really saying “You are such a nice person, I don’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Here are five more five common customer comments, and I’ll provide a “truth-o-meter” to explain what they really mean.


Send Me Some Information

After weeks of calling, you finally get your prospect on the phone. They say “send me some information,” which sounds genuine enough. You hang up, send them a carefully worded e-mail full of links, marketing materials and white papers. You call and call to follow up, and never get through again.

I Don’t Have Time

Many customers are too busy mopping the floor to fix the leaky roof. They don’t have time because they are understaffed, overworked, and use poor automation systems. These are the people who need your solutions the most.

It’s Not in The Budget

Budgets are allocations of resources to address business priorities and objectives. If there is no budget available, your prospects are either poor planners, don’t see a value in your solution, or don’t have the juice to get things done in the organization. If your solution offers a higher ROI than the budgeted items, give the customer some free business coaching on how to achieve strategic objectives.

You Worked Hard on This

When prospects start complimenting you on your hard work, consider calling in the Special Forces because you are about to lose the sale. Buyers instinctively don’t compliment salespeople because they feel they will lose negotiating leverage. People interested in buying will give you objections and go into specific details of your offer. See next quote.

Your Price is too High

Finally, our sales effort has struck gold. Nobody cares about the price unless they are interested in your solution. When you hear “your price is too high,” your fish is on the hook. Work them carefully and reel them into the boat.

Top salespeople are fluent in Customereze, and understand how to translate these phrases into actionable sales tactics. When someone says “I really like your proposal,” hold onto your wallet. You are about to experience a “Commission-dectomy.”

Buyers who ask tough questions are the ones most interested in moving forward. “Nice” is usually bad, and “Bad” is usually good.

As a boss of mine asked me one time: “When’s the last time you told a salesman the truth?”

Are you closely marrying your sales and marketing efforts?