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My dog got snipped. I got a lesson in sales. Here's the full story:
Last Updated November 21st, 2013

A few weeks ago, I had to take my dog, Mr. Bities, to the vet to get neutered.

Now, Mr. Bities is the first dog I’ve ever had, so this was all completely new to me and I had some serious questions…

“Why does my dog hump inanimate objects?”

“Is it okay if I dress him up like a little person?”

“Is it possible to teach my dog how to flush the toilet?”


…some serious questions that, despite her attempts, the vet failed to answer.

That’s when I realized that if this vet were a saleswoman, she’d be broke and starving. She was committing one of the BIGGEST sales mistakes people make.

Snip this Sales Mistake From Your Sales Funnel

What’s sad is, this sales mistake is omnipresent. I see friends, clients, consultants, coaches, authors, and other people make this same mistake… all the time.

Watch this video to see what the mistake is – and how to ensure you never make it again.

Even though this is a sales-killing mistake, it’s quite easy to fix. I show you how in this video.

Now I’ve got a question for you:

Have you ever been in a situation where either you (or a sales rep) kept trying to explain something to you… and it felt like they were speaking a different language?

Share your story in the comments.

Also – do you know someone who might fall prey to this same mistake?

I showed you how to fix it. You show them how to fix it by sending them a link to this video πŸ˜‰

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99 comments Leave a comment

Such a great post – thanks for the info Derek. I manage an insurance sales team and it amazes me how often this ‘Curse’ occurs. Funny video, too.

Ivan Widjaya

It’s hard to explain a situation if the person don’t understand it to begin with. Once you become passionate about your job, it is harder to get people to understand because you start speaking in codes. But then it is an effort that you must take.


Made this mistake Derek was talking about many a time and can absolutely confirm that what his says is true. Speak in language your customer will understand!

Phil Q

I agree

Lianne-Carla Savage

This really is one of those things where just a small change can have such a big impact. A reminder of this is always useful.


Derek, you have nailed one of my biggest problems. I deal with it every day as a middle school teacher and in my photography blog. Assuming others know your jargon is hard to overcome, but it is paramount to actually getting people to listen and learn.
You do it well.. thanks


I’m a veterinary practice manager, so this just cracked me up! I don’t come from a veterinary background, so I always am the one to write our blogs – as opposed to having the veterinarians write them. I do this because of exactly what you’re explaining here – vets can’t comprehend someone not knowing basics parts of pet care. Great video – going to share with some veterinarians I know.

Marie Benard

thank you! great video. I need more practice with this… I am just getting started as a coach and still trying to figure out who my idea client is… I have been on the receiving end of the endless blathering without a direct answer and it is SUCH a turn off… now, I just have to figure out who my ideal client is and how he or she would describe his problem πŸ™‚ thank you!

Max Turner

To answer your question – YES ALL THE TIME.

It seems that when we are trying to pitch something, we get so wrapped up in how to pitch or sell to someone that we forget what exactly the customer is concerned about and wants.

Maybe it’s best to start with asking the customer exactly what the customer wants from the get go so you don’t have to worry about pitching them at all?


Ah, yes, the Curse of Knowledge. I used to get tripped up by that before I got hip to “parrot”-ing my ideal clients language back to them. I love the Heath bros’ Made to Stick.

LOL @ your comment re: if Mr Bities vet was in sales, “she would be out on the street… starving!” LOL


The curse og knowledge… Thanks for a great mnemonic trigger to use on myself when the situation occurs. Because it does, of course, and I train others in digital marketing. I’m especially often “tricked” by the ones using tems like inbound marketing and retargeting as if they already understand this, when it turns out they’ve only learned buzzwords (and there’s a lot of those in our business ;). And it’s so hard to backtrack when I discover they don’t know what I thought they knew without them catching it – or worse – getting impatient myself.


Your style of sharing is wickedly awesome! Thanks for this insightful piece it’s a treasure.

Isaiah Hankel

Wow, the curse of knowledge. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me at hardware stores. I always leave feeling even more confused. Relating it to sales is something I haven’t done, but it is a great way to think about it. You cannot talk over someones head, even if you are unaware that you are doing it.

Thanks for the video Derek.

Melissa Cassera

First – OMG – Mr. Bities?! Love.

Second, this is SUCH a great message. My husband and I just bought a brand-new Airstream travel trailer. We had a walk-through and have had some minor problems since that we needed help on. Just about everyone there would speak to us in their crazy-jargon until we had to bluntly say “I have no idea what the f*** you’re talking about, can you say that in English, please?”

Then there was one service guy who had a beautiful way of communicating everything in our language. Now we feel totally confident (and have him on speed dial.)

This video broke the concept down so beautifully – I think I’ll forward it to Airstream corporate! πŸ™‚


LOVE the video! I so look forward to your videos Derek. You are a delight to watch. I have learned so much from you this year. THANK YOU. All the Best & Keep them coming.


Wow, this really opened my eyes and it all makes sense now. Thank you Derek for this insightful article!

Todd Roberts

Hmmm, tell a story about Mr. Bities without an ending. Is that a storytelling faux pas or a brilliant tactic to elicit comments?

maxwell ivey

Hi Derrick; In school they taught us that the best way to retain information was to express it in terms familiar to us. In this video you are saying we have to do the opposite when selling put our thoughts in their words. Funny how that turns out. I grew up in a family of carnival owners. I have a lot of experience with traveling amusement equipment. But as i have been establishing myself as an amusement equipment reseller i have had to learn the terms that people use in the rest of the amusement industry. I have also had to learn the common words used by people working in other countries. And i have had to learn to express information in metrics as well as standard measurements. Thanks for another great post and for sending me the direct link to the video again. Take care, max


I couldn’t agree more! But, Derek, you’re falling victim against your own advice. I have NO IDEA what “Blogs that convert” are, and I hear it in a lot of your videos. Haha!

But, really, I just wanted to add that I’ve always put industry terms into words my clients can understand. For the past decade, I’ve had several people tell me that they love working with because because I can explain everything in a manner they can understand–and not condescendingly, I might add.

It does me no good to ask my client if the design they’re sending for print is 4/4, because when I first got into the industry, I had no idea what that meant either. What’s worse is that I’ve heard co-workers at my former jobs ask clients “Is your postcard 4 over 4?” and when the client is like “huh?!?” my co-worked would sigh heavily and reply with a nasty tone,”Is it printing with full color on both sides?”… then the client would say,”What does full color mean?”. At this point, my co-worker would be very upset. I always felt bad for the client because it’s not their fault they don’t know. It’s not like they teach that in Kindergarten! So I make sure to ask my clients “is this printing in color or black and white?” once they reply I ask if it’s “printing the same on the second side”.

I see this VERY often in the Graphic Design and Printing industries. Too many people are trying to sound smart and competent when doing their jobs because they believe their clients LIKE that… that they WANT someone who sounds like they know it all about their jobs. But I’d much rather be able to communicate with my clients than sound like a stuck-up smart-ass! I save the industry speak when I’m talking with other designers and vendors. It doesn’t belong in the client vocabulary list!


Awesome video! Simple yet powerful. I constantly remind myself not to fall trap to this “curse of knowledge” and use words that resonate with my clients.

Thanks Derek for the great reminder!


I often visit forums to see exactly what people feel about something and learn the jargon used in certain niches especially that I’m not American. use forums to your side and you can get a lot of interesting data.

Nick Coston, D.V.M.

I got the biggest kick out of your video this morning. I am a veterinarian and am probably guilty in the past of providing the same experience you had. On behalf of my profession, I appologize. We’re all nerds that at one time or another have said “like a spay.”

Just after watching your video, I read the following article. We are “talking” among ourselves to do just as you suggest.


We all need to acknowledge this as a problem, no matter WHAT profession you’re in.


I definitely know someone that does this.

When I first met a now close friend of mine, I honestly thought he must have been on drugs or drunk, because as he tried to explain what his company did, I was utterly confused. His deep accent aside, ten minutes into his explanation, I am thinking they made software or hardware or something for traffic lights. He was actually sober and turned out, our mutual friends and his girlfriend had no clue what he did either! We all had a good laugh over it. A year later his head of sales asked me out. I felt ridiculous asking, but had to, “what do you guys do?” In one sentence, he said it – product and value proposition – clear as day and cool. “I know, we try to avoid having him at client meetings.”

Debra Durham

Happy Friday, Derek (and Mr. Bities)!

Hope that you are both recovered from this trip to the vet. Surgery can be stressful for pets and their people. At least it inspired a super helpful video and maybe some extra treats during that “like a spay” recovery.

Your video was a great reminder about looking at the world through our clients’ eyes, or at least trying. Thank you. Just what I needed today. It’s easy to forget that other people don’t know what’s in our heads and vice versa. Seems that Mr. Bities’ vet didn’t know that she doesn’t know how to talk with clients about ABC.” Funny that this not knowing can be the other side of the curse of knowledge.

Derek, what would a perfect answer to your post-snip recovery question have sounded like? I’m guessing the vet was going to get this particular paid gig no matter what. The fact that this stuck out enough that you even made a video has me wondering if you might have been hoping for something besides the number of days before your dog would up and around or totally back in action.

Thanks again for the video. Your stuff is always great!

P.S. If you are still wondering about those other questions about humping, flushing and Mr. Bities wardrobe, let me know. I’m a behaviorist and more than happy to help if I can.


This was really great feedback– short and insightful. I actually manage a team of sales people and they make this mistake ALL THE TIME. What’s funny is that I have tried to address this with them over the years but they still do it. I’ll have to evaluate whether I might be making the same mistake in giving them feedback!



Great video. This is a principle I’ve actually heard before, yet listening to you today I realize that I’ve been failing to apply it in my current marketing strategy and it’s been one of the major things hindering my sales process. Not unlike the guy who was trying to “Market” rather than help find “paid gigs” I’ve been trying to use marketing terminology with my clients rather than language they would be more comfortable with. I have no doubt that that simple change in language will make a huge difference. Great advice as always! Keep up the great work!


Beatrix Willius

Funny video! Did Mr. Bities survive the trip to the vet?

Every time I talk to my engineer colleagues, who all live cars while I’m a software girl, I think they speak another language. I tell them I know what wheels, motor and steering wheel are. And then they repeat their techno-babble.

Rich Brooks


Great stuff as always. Can’t tell you the number of time I’ve referenced “the curse of knowledge” in presentations and one-on-one talks w/clients.

In fact, I was talking to this just yesterday with a client who wanted to use a more sophisticated term “legacy” rather than the one most people use, “estate” in describing her services.

Do you have a suggestion for how she can use “estate” to lure in her ideal customer, but then switch to “legacy” to establish that what she does may be different than her competitors?

I’m almost thinking about Tim Ferris’s coining “lifestyle design” to separate himself from everyone else doing time management.


Man, i had been client of Ipage webserver for one year or more..but I noticed the were doing it all the time avery time a problem happened and then, they’d throw the problem back to me saying that it was not their fault. After many arguments I’d have a problem solved but only after a huge stress. The last time i got to the point that I could not host any other wordpress website, because the the web host wouldn’t give permission to access any new database, even knowing that they offered unlimited databases. I asked what was the problem and to fix it, they came with lots of technical names and after much stress i said i just want to have it fixe and be able to create a new website…well they kept on answering in nonsense terms…i just gave up on then and cancelled and moved to another host. Just happier now!


Great video, but there’s a closely related issue. You see, the vet apparently was dealing with you in her professional “veterinarian” mode, not in what she thought of as a “sales” mode. She failed to realize that every communication with a client or potential client is, in reality, part of the selling/marketing process whether it’s explicit or not. And shame on you for acquiring a pet without doing the necessary research first.

Jim Johnson

Perfect! Thank you!!


Thank you.
As an ex-teacher, I’ve always been kind of aware of this. However, your post made me edit some of my pages.

Reading through comments, I’ve seen many people having this issue with doctors and IT techs – I can totally relate to that. Actually some of the techs on the net could make (and some did!) a lot of money simply by being aware that people run away screaming from their “instructions”.

Vicki Aubin, The Rockin' Career Coach

Excellent point, Derek! It’s easy to get ‘blind-sided’ by the erroneous belief that everyone sees and understands things the same way WE do. It’s only when you step back and uncover what’s really important to our target audience, and ‘HOW’ they talk about it and articulate it, that we can step ‘into their shoes’ and talk in their own ‘language’; so they ‘sit up and take notice’ at what WE have to say to THEM. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people making in resumes and cover letters, but that’s beside the point πŸ˜‰ Thanks for bringing this important topic to the forefront!

Barbara McKinney

Thanks for sharing this short yet very informative video Derek!I learned something new today.


Yet another useful nugget, nay, boulder of wisdom Mr H.

During your video I was reminded of some advice I was given when I was working in a team dealing with professionals for whom English was their second or third language.

I was told to be respectful, but talk to them like a child. Speak slowly and use short, simple words.

Today I will often tell people to stop me if I start “geeking them out”. Your video is a great reminder that people want to know in their words how you can help them.


Joanne Loo

Hi Derek, this was a great help! This applies to almost every situation in life, not just trying to pitch an idea. Effective communication is the key to success. Thank you for sharing!

Fiona Craig Life Balance Coach

I’m guilty!!!! I had a tradesman ask me what I do and boy did I balls it up. I could see his eyes glaze over. I sure have some work to do on explaining Gestalt trained life coaching to people.

Yolanda Crowley

I DO know of someone who speaks about her business the way your vet does. Unfortunately, if I showed her this video, she wouldn’t get it. Yes, it’s my mother. πŸ™‚

You just gave me some wonderful ideas.


(And does your vet know you made this video?)

Chris Palmer

This is one of the most difficult things to get right, to be honest! I think we also need to keep in mind what our users need in our CONTENT, not just marketing, in realizing their perspective.

It’s the whole, “What was it like when I knew nothing about this subject?” mentality.

Joel Chudleigh

Hi Derek
Regarding your dog flushing the toilet:
Never give up!


Great common sense advice. Talk about marketing, I had a whole different image of what Mr. Bities would look like. Reminds me of the myth of Chopper in Stand by Me! Thanks.

Daniel Boswell

I honestly almost deleted your email because the subject line didn’t really appeal to me. However, I’m glad I didn’t and I went ahead and watched the video. Very insightful! I’ve heard similar teachings but you explained it in a way that is making me go back and rethink how I go about explaining to my clients what I do.

Thanks for the helpful info!

Liudas Butkus

Great video πŸ™‚ Will watch my language more carefully from now on when marketing πŸ™‚


So many people get stuck speaking in their knowledge filled words. I struggle with this myself because there is more than one value proposition with my gift business and I am not always sure which resonates. I need to spend more time with my target audience!

ps: what is it with vets who can’t seem to answer simple questions? Mine is the same way…


Hey Derek,
Awesome video as always, and soooo appropriate. You have to speak your ideal customer’s language – and a lot of times you have to educate along the way. That’s not a chore, that’s a privilege.

By the way, no offense to Mr. Bities, but I would have called you as a big dog guy… πŸ™‚


I’m a pretty smart guy, I thought. Until you punched me in the gut with this “Like a spay” idea. I’m an engineer and use jargon and too many details. Not any more. I’m gonna talk “English” to my customers. Turns out its easier and more fun anyway. THANKS! Bob

Shere Chamness

OUCH! As a website programmer, I often see peoples’ eyes glaze over when I’m explaining things. Now I realize that I’ve been emitting a bunch of empty words (and probably making my listeners feel stupid too). I thought I was being responsible to explain things in-depth.

OW! OW! OW! From now on, I promise to pay attention to THEIR words for guidance in how to communicate more effectively. A BIG THANKS, Derek! This is your best video yet. You’ve helped a huge number of folks with this one. If we all hope for Mr Bitie’s recovery, he’ll be well in no time.


Derek, I always knew why I liked your content so much, but now I have a name for the reason. You have found a way to cut through the “Curse of Knowledge” and make everything easy to understand. I’m like Denzel in the movie Philadephia; “Talk to me like I’m a six year old”.

I’m an electrical engineer and often have to explain how a building’s infrastructure works to an architect or contractor or anyone involved in the building process. When it’s time to talk power, they get in the fetal position in the corner and scream “make it stop”. Well, not literally. I struggle to speak without the “curse of knowledge”, but it’s SO HARD to do on the fly. I often spend half an hour typing a simple email to a client to water down the language. However, I must say that since I came across Social Triggers, I’m getting much better. Keep it up and keep helping me to lift that curse!

Many Thanks to all you do for me. Great content week in and week out.


I love this book. The curse of knowledge is a challenge because you can’t unlearn what you know, but you need to figure out how to talk like you’ve never learned it. A conundrum, to be sure.

Cliff Santos

Hey Derek

Fantastic article! I’ve caught myself speaking to people in that way and I’m much better at using common terms. Also by speaking through benefits not features makes it easier for people to understand as mentioned in previous posts.
As a dog trainer, I see people that don’t know the difference between a spay and a neuter as well as not knowing how long it takes to heal. Either peolple don’t ask, or the vet doesn’t answer because I’m asked almost everytime. The dog is usually fine the same day as surgery or the following day, by day 3 suture is usually good, and the Simple answer is a week barring complications.

Anymore dog questions?

Thanks for the article!

Sarah M. Jordan

Derek, you’re a genius! Give Mr. Bities an extra treat.

Jeff Goins

Poor Mr. Bities. πŸ™

Freddie Mixell

Another great video! I love that your videos are short and to the point, I learn more in 5 minutes than I do in an hour from others.


Thank you for proving you can learn a lesson from anything even neutering your dog! One of my newest readers who I love finally got the courage to ask me what the heck I do apparently for a full year she had just been pretending to understand what I was saying! She didnt want to hurt my feelings but it really made me realize I understand what I am saying but that doesn’t mean that everyone around isn’t hearing greek or chinese babble they don’t understand.Its a good thing to reflect on how we are being perceived by others who are not inside our head with us


Hi Derek,
I make video sales letters and could not agree with you more. When you design a video sales letter, you are designing it for the visitors, not the site owner. The site owner already knows what they do, but john-q public doesn’t and needs to know, but in laymans terms. Great video! Looking forward to more. Thanks.

Teri Smart

This was a very helpful reminder especially because I am a copy editor who helps people with their sales and other pages on the web. I’ll be adding this questions into my pre work questions to make it easier for me to write directly to my clients ‘clients’. Thank you Derek. Hope your dog heals up!

Emily DeWan

Great message. As a family photographer I often have to remind myself that not all of my clients really understand how to use the final images, or what some of my terminology mean. I find it very helpful to review my marketing material with non-photographers who don’t know the common terms we as photographers use.

Laura McGregor

This is exactly the problem I am having today – except in reverse. I think we’ve simplified it so much people don’t get the additional value and therefore, are not really “getting” the full product offering. I see now (with your help) actually we aren’t telling them much more – so how could they possibly get it! Testing ideas this week: add depth to simplicity. *yikes*

Thank you for always making me laugh and sharing such great content.

P.S. Best regards to Mr. Bities for a speedy recovery!

Dr Andrew Jones

Being a former veterinarian I get the ‘curse’ of knowledge, and how so many of us in any business do such a poor job of communicating with words that the customer/client gets..

I am sure that cost me and my practice thousands of dollars in sales πŸ™

I hope ‘Mr Bities’ is doing OK after being tutored..

BTW Social Triggers is now my favorite marketing blog.; great stuff, that is immediately applicable, and it is helping my online business make more profit.



You made this video for me!! I could go on and on about why but right now I’ll just say- Thank You.


Thanks for your reminder. You’re absolutely right about the “Curse of Knowledge”! As a neuroscience researcher, your message really hits home. Can you imagine explaining neuroplasticity to an audience of manufacturing execs, lawyers, accountants, medical professionals, parents, or high school students? Understanding of even the basic concepts can give all of them enormous advantages in achieving their goals, and up-leveling the quality of life for all of humanity, so I’m passionate about making it a powerful, practical tool. Still, it’s a constant challenge!
Your videos are sensational. Will we be seeing more of Mr. Bitie?

Josh Frets

As a guitar teacher I have to constantly remind myself not to be bitten by the Curse of Knowledge. What’s obvious to me probably isn’t obvious to my student.

The tiny granular level of thinking about individual words is effort well spent.


How sad we do not even look at peoples faces when communicating with them for feed back. Does it ever ring a bell that our business is 80% of the time about our customer and not us?


Derek; I must commend you that with such ease you have explained that how one need to pitch a sale. The energy shown by you in the video is just tremendous and I consider it a must see video to improve your sales as a sale has to be so subtle so that buyer does not even know that he has been pushed a paid product.



People in tech are notorious for this. Someone comes in with a computer and the technician “explains” what’s wrong: “Oh it looks like the memory has gone bad and your drivers are out of date and no longer compatible with your operating system.”

Really, all the customer wants to know: Can you fix it? How much will it cost? Did I lose all my stuff? Will it happen again?

I’ve learned to just answer those questions. If they want more details, cool (but usually not).


Is your dog sitting on an eames chair?


Derek –

I’d really like to watch your videos or at least get an idea of what you say in them, but because YouTube is blocked at work, I can’t.

Any chance you can post some additional details for those of us who would like to read?


Jill B

SO TRUE- I can’t stand it when people talk in jargon. Speak for the benefit of your audience, not for yourself. And now I have “like a spay” stuck in my head to the tune of “like a boss”. Fantastic. πŸ™‚

Steven Cooper

This was insightful. I had this problem last week as I was teaching a bunch of high schoolers. Luckily the teacher was there to clarify. Thanks, I am going to apply this to a product I am working on.

Shelly Moreau

Hi Derek,

As usual… another great video. I love your advice. And I believe that clarity is essential here. No hi-tech mumbo-jumbo words needed. Give the facts… just the facts… clean, clear and concise, without use of colorful, multi-syllable fancy-schmancy words. Thank you.
Shelly Moreau

Angel True

So true Derek! It always amazes me how business owners struggle to find language clients can relate to! It’s so simple yet feels so foreign to most people.

Thanks for a great and relateable story too!

Borja Obeso

I like how you take normal life situations and make a comparison to explain how to improve sales or marketing


Also, you need to make double sure this vet did everything right. Knowing so little does not speak well of the situation, at all!

Jason @ Marketing Automation

Classic! so true. happens all the time! Towards the beginning of starting our company we had difficulty really explaining what marketing automation was and you could just see the look on peoples faces when they were like ‘WHAT are you talking about?!?!’

Since then we have tried to sweeten our message and give clear answers so even a 3rd grader can understand them. To do this I think it is huge to ask each person you talk with towards the end of the conversation if everything made sense and how you can explain what it is you’re saying better. Always be looking for improvement.


It happens all the time. We once bought a house for 1/3 the value because:
1. the bankruptcy lawyer had left one $500 lien on it,
2. FHA did not know how to deal with this.

Because FHA had so many houses so entailed, they were so grateful for us finding and fixing the problem, they gave us the house at their cost. I don’t even know if that’s legal, but what is, now days? It felt like getting paid for sleuth work, so we felt it fair.

The lawyer probably was very smart, if not very wise nor very ethical, and knew just how little he had to do to be finished (in his mind) with that bankruptcy case.

If they’d been anything but a gov agency, FHA’s boss would have been broke eons before. Instead, they are just now getting there, so to speak.

Too often, a person with normal intelligence can maneuver a situation however they see fit, because the experts got there because of “who-you-know” not “what-you-know”.

Too bad.

The Get In Shape Girl

I have a bad habit of speaking in terms of features, rather than benefits. Doing this day in and day out, I forget that people don’t understand why having access to daily strength training workouts is so awesome and totally what they need.

So rather than putting features on a sales page, such as:
– daily strength training workouts on your google calendar
– weekly email check ins with me
– free weekly recipes in your inbox

I should be saying:
– quick access workouts to help you lose fat and build lean muscle
– accountability from me to help you stay on track
– weekly recipes to take the guess work out of what you should be eating

So when we speak more in terms of benefits it takes away the language barrier between us and the audience.

What do you think?


The worst I’ve experienced that was when I went through my college’s financial aid program. I was young and knew nothing about loans or debt, and the person explaining it to me didn’t do much to make it clearer- I had to keep turning to my dad to explain what was going on. I ran into basically the same problem when I bought my first car- the guy was just throwing out numbers and acronyms and might as well have been speaking Klingon- all I wanted to know was what the car cost and how much I’d owe on it each month. I kind of slip into this behavior when I’m trying to explain the computer to my mom. I’m getting better at speaking her language but I still mess up and tell her- for example- to just “copy and paste” something, forgetting that she doesn’t know how to copy and paste and has no interest in learning.

I’m not surprised this happened to you at the vet- doctors of all kinds are NOTORIOUS for this problem. I used to be a medical assistant (kind of like a nurse), and my teachers warned me about this in school. It’s similar to how doctors can sometimes be really short and impatient when you’re trying to explain your symptoms to them- they’ve heard this same set of symptoms a thousand and one times before, and about three seconds into your appointment, they pretty much know what they’re going to say and they just want you to stop talking so they can diagnose you, treat you, and move on to the next patient.

I worked with a chiropractor who explained to me that this gets even worse because when you’re writing material for scientific journals, you’re encouraged to use as few words as possible (if I remember correctly, she said that you the author pay by the word to get published, but don’t quote me on that). Doctors are basically trained all through grad school to replace strings of short, easy to understand words with single, huge words. By the time they graduate and start practicing, it’s a deeply ingrained habit. It doesn’t help that a lot of doctors get a bit impressed with their own intelligence and like to show off- especially around other people who come off as intelligent or intimidating.

During initial scans (a 10-20 minute procedure I performed on new patients before they saw the doctor), I got in the habit of explaining some of the basic chiropractic terms our patients might hear from the doctor. Unsurprisingly, patients who saw me (as opposed to our other assistants) on their first visit were generally better informed and equipped going into their first adjustment with the doctor. This helped to significantly increase patient satisfaction (making them more likely to stay a patient in the long run) and patient referrals. I also got really good at explaining our less-commonly-known services to patients (for example, lots of people don’t know that chiropractors can adjust pretty much any joint in the body, not just the spine), which meant more customized care, faster healing, and fewer visits for them, and more money per visit and space on the schedule for new patients for us. Win win πŸ™‚


    Hi Kelly,

    Good for you. That is truly fantastic. The problem you describe with doctors is one of the biggest problems in healthcare today. Patients and their families (like Derek and Mr bites) walk out of the room not truly understanding what they need to do better and or even what they have.

    This is why healthcare is moving toward team collaboration where a group of people are responsible for educating a patient and ensuring they understand through a method called, “teach back’. I actually use a form of this in everyday life when interacting with people. When having a conversation, I often reiterate in my own words what I heard some say, which shows them 1.) that I am listening and 2.) it provides both of us to clarify to minimize misunderstandings. Derek, recently spoke about the benefit of this shown in a study of Waitresses that repeat someone’s order in a restaurant and that they, on average, earn more in tips than those that don’t. Great job again. Keep it up. Jamie

The Get In Shape Girl

I think this happens naturally when we speak of benefits rather than features. I have a bad habit of writing features of my subscription based site on my sales pages. I’ll be like:
– access to daily strength training plans
– weekly email check ins with me
– free recipes in your inbox weekly

But really I need to be like:
– daily workouts to help you lose fat and build lean muscle
– coaching and accountability to help you stay on track
– step by step recipes to take the guesswork out of what you should be eating

I think when you are doing it every.single.day. you don’t get that people have no idea what these features do for you, as the audience. So if we, the salespeople, can get into the habit of always speaking in terms of benefits, this will be easier.

Diego Rhoger

Ok Derek! You’re right, but, how do i demonstrate the authorithy in my field without using techinical language?

I see that using it only is an error to be avoid! But, how to still cativate those leads and earn their respect as an authoroty in the field?

Hope we can find the mesure….

Thanks for the great content, got me thinking! πŸ™‚

Kumar Gauraw

Hi Derek,

One of my senior business associates, Mr. Joe Picci, the author of the book, “Selling Naked On Phone” explained this exact concept something like this a couple of years ago in a training he was doing:

“When you have to explain the term you are using to your prospect, it STOPs the sales process. Use words that your prospect understands, not the one you do.”

And you beautifully explained this through this dog’s story. Thank you for a very animated presentation in your usual enthusiastic style. Enjoyed it!

Have a successful week!



ha ha, have just gone over my testimonials and found something I can use on my website. Brilliant, thanks.


Clear, articulare and smart. Thanks for the video.

Brent Williams

This drives me nuts when salespeople do this. It’s like they are trying to impress potential clients with what they know rather than assuring them that they can solve their problem. I seriously cringe because they really think it it’s the right thing to do!

It’s ok to educate the customer but only if they want to be educated. But most people just want to know the result of what you are offering. Focus on results, not the path to get there. If they wanted to know “how to” they would just learn how and do it themselves.


great advice. I get stumped sometimes though explaining what a blog is to some potential clients who want website, so being able to anchor the concept to something they understand is critical. It’s a real creative task.


Absolutely. I just signed up to do my first triathlon– Ironman, and needed to get a bike. For 2 weeks I shopped everywhere talking to salespeople with the curse of knowledge. TT vs road, aero, drop, carbon, geometry, componentry, compact crankset.. Say whaaa?? I hired a phenomenal coach who has since helped bridge the gap. Armed with the information I needed, I ended up buying from none of the stores and getting a killer bike on craigslist!


This is the exact problem most online experts exhibit in their sharing & training. Programs are marketed and promoted using the right terms, ‘pain points’ etc. to get you into the program, but once in, they make the assumption you know what they are talking about – simply because they touched on it in their marketing.

Teaching me Step #5 does me no good if you skipped the details of Steps 1-4 after you led me to believe I was going to ‘learn’ these steps too.

Elizabeth Whalen

Before you mentioned the Heath brothers’ book, I was thinking, “It’s the curse of knowledge! It’s the curse of knowledge!”

Thanks for another great video. By the way, your dog is adorable. I love dogs.

Jason Gracia


From the subject line to the body copy and linked image to the story and take away of the video, this was one of your best pieces of content.

Applicable, concise, powerful, and packed with personality.

You hit it out of the park with this one.


    Dan Gamito


    Also provides a new perspective on why web developers usually struggle with launching their own products…they are so knowledgeable of the technical side of a website/app/etc that they take it for granted & are typically out of touch with the customer’s vocabulary & sense of reality.

Peg McMahan

What you’re saying is akin to talking to children and teenagers. I remember my 8yr old: Me, “Do you understand?” She answered, “Yeah but what does that word mean?” And there was the day my teenaged stepdaughter tried to use sophistry on me. I switched to “intelligent adult with large vocabulary.” Her eyes grew larger and rounder and her mouth closed.

Bk Walker

I think this is my problem. I don’t know how to talk to people and need to remember when I was where they’re at now. Thank you for this. Time to do my homework and go check myself πŸ™‚

Dave Soucy

Great video Derek. I talk to clients all the time who do this on their websites, thinking they have to wow visitors with their knowledge of big words and run on sentences.

I’ll be sharing this one with my list today.


Tracey Swain

Great video. I must confess I am so passionate about my work I often forget that the folk I am talking to don’t know what I am talking about. So I go out of my way to make it come across in a life situation they might understand in terms they can relate to. It has helped them save a great deal of money and also makes them return to me as I can give them answers they understand.


I did find this video insightful πŸ™‚ Especially the part about not talking about “Marketing” to musicians, but talking about “I’ll show you how to get more paid gigs”. SO simple and helpful!


A couple of days ago I was on a speaker panel discussing business plans and entrepreneurship. Another member of the panel kept referring to the importance of cash flow. You have to project your cash flow! Cash flow is a crucial benchmark! Etc.

Now, because I write business plans I know a lot about cash flow. But the audience didn’t. I could see them nodding their heads in agreement but also in confusion. What’s the point of knowing how important something is if you can’t even define it or learn to use it yourself?

    Jim Wang

    People are afraid of looking bad/stupid, so they nod even if they aren’t sure what it means. Everyone knows that cash flow is important… but not everyone knows why. πŸ™‚

Joe Cassandra

When I was negotiating for my car lease, I had to explain to the salesman manager what the “Money factor” was in determining a car lease price, he didn’t understand it when I tried to negotiate it down.

It actually turned out to help me get the price even lower, outwit the salesmen!


    Did he lower the price based on the four square?

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