Some of the smartest people I know are not very successful at sales. This is probably because they make the 'professor mistake'. This happens when you assume that your audience knows as much about your subject matter as you .

Here's what happens: you spend so much time perfecting your knowledge on a specific subject that you end up believing that it is common knowledge. But before you know it, you totally forget the fact that others haven't traveled that far up your learning curve

I make this mistake more often than I want to admit! A good example is when I assumed that everyone intuitively understood the importance of online personal branding. I got a reality check when only a handful of people signed for my training program on the subject.

The lesson I learned is that I had failed to explain that great personal branding brings you more business. I simply assumed everyone would make that connection.

It turns out that to many people personal branding isn’t even regarded as something positive because a lot of companies beat it out of their employees.

Looking back it seems very obvious but it is amazing how you can lose your bearings when you are in the fray.

Another element of the professor mistake is when you sound more like you are trying to communicate with your peers instead of your customers. This happens because there is pressure to keep up appearances within an industry.

There’s this common irrational fear that ‘dumbing things down’ makes us look stupid. As a result, we tend to forget what is best for the customer.

What usually happens is that they just stop listening to a message they can’t understand.

Also, if your prospect’s first impression is that doing business with you is going to be kind of complicated, they will just move on. We may feel smart but the customer feels dumb. Nobody wins.

There’s another reason why we need to simplify our message. Most of the time a sales process is all about other stakeholders. Your client probably needs to win the support of colleagues and clients to justify buying your product or service. How can you expect your prospects to influence others when your business is difficult to understand?

The same is true for reputation risk. Your prospects need to be able to understand what they are getting into, otherwise there isn’t much of an incentive for them to stick their neck out for you.

Great business development is about making it easy for your prospects to adopt what you offer. Simplify your message so your prospects can intuitively understand what you can do for them. And if they have questions, that is a great thing because it is not only an indication of interest but it also facilitates an ongoing dialogue.

Does that make sense?