Selling to Big Business

…Lifetime Value for your Services Business…

Major Accounts: What a Difference a Word Makes

Written By: Catherine McQuaid - Aug• 04•14


Large companies can seem like another species, with their own language and view of the world.

When developing ways to engage senior people within multinational firms, I have learned that words are neuropathways to the heart.  Using a firm’s language is one way of winning hearts and minds at the early stages of relationship-building.


Let’s say you’re a service provider to the pharma/biotech industry. Would you talk about “customers”  or “KOLs”  (Key Opinion Leaders)?

I was having a discovery conversation on behalf of a client. It was a Biotech firm.

They taught me a valuable lesson.  If you are  using the language of your audience, your chances of building credibility increase.


This is what happened:  I asked about their customers. She responded:

“I suppose you could call them customers but they’re KOL’s.  Key Opinion Leaders.”

Immediately, I substituted “KOL” for “customer” in all my client’s materials and conversations.  

Using their language may be one of the reasons they agreed to further discussions in one of their therapeutic groups.


 By the way, the term “KOL”  is an indication of the way in  which highly specialized business services firms collaborate with their distributors or clients at both the development and sales stage.

Therefore, there’s a good chance that  intellectual property-based companies, delivering intangible “products”  would use KOL rather than “customer”.


Let me know if using their language helps win their hearts.


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Comment

  1. From my perspective this reaction you received is the result of building rapport. Making the client feel comfortable is essential for rapport, and using their ‘language’ is part of this process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>