Redefine the meaning to understand success.

Redefine the meaning to understand success.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at



Redefine the meaning to understand success.

Right definition in the dictionary wrong meaning for success.

Noah Webster was right about definitions wrong about meanings and was obviously never in sales. Some of the words and phrases he defined were not realistic in a business or sales sense.

The real definitions of the words used in sales and customer service are never found in the dictionary. REASON: You define them. And the way you define them (with your words and actions) determines your success.

I challenge you to begin thinking beyond “dictionary” definitions. The word “sale” is defined as the act of two people getting together to transact business. The word service is the act of performing an assistance or serving another. Those may be their dictionary definitions but it’s far from their MEANING.

For example what is your definition of an angry customer? It may be a little rougher than the one that’s in the dictionary. Webster’s might say, “someone who has a complaint about the business transaction you conducted, or needs immediate service.”

The way you think of the definition of a word is usually handinhand with your reaction. For example, some people define a customer complaint as a negative interruption of their business day. Others see it as a chance to get better. How do you see it?

Some sales people see the word “no” as a rejection. I’ve always looked at it as “not yet.” It’s all in the way you define the words in your own mind it’s all in how you view their meaning. Not a definition a perspective your perspective.

Here for your thought provoking pleasure, with no particular rhyme, reason, or order (certainly not “alphabetical order”) are the new definitions of some more of the words you sell and serve by:

How about the word “sale” how would you define it?

Definition of “sale”… Trust. (I trust you, like you, have confidence in you, AND perceive a (value) difference between you and the others who sell

the same thing (last week’s column had a bunch of sales definitions go back and get it as fast as you can.)

Let’s continue by defining the people who buy from you that ought to get your thought waves off to a “realworld” start:

Purchasing Agent… A person with one ounce of power that he uses to make salespeople feel like dirt. A person to be avoided.

Vice presidents and managers… People who say they’re the decisionmakers, and they’re usually not. See: CEO.

CEO… The real decisionmaker that you don’t have the guts to call on.

Now let’s define the customer service element of the sale. The element that brings people back for more to buy from you again. The element that creates stories. The element with the biggest opportunity to solidify the foundation of your business.

Automated attendant… 21st century way of answering your phone guaranteed to piss off every customer you’ve got.

Complaint… Opportunity to learn about weakness of your product or operation also an opportunity to recover and gain loyalty. (CAUTION: If handled poorly it will create bad stories about you that will be told for years.

Company Policy… A little book that tells what you can’t do, and every time a customer hears the words is guaranteed to get angrier and ruder.

Poor customer service… The act of chasing your customer to your competitor. The opening for your competition to steal your business. See also “Stupid.”

Lost customer… Your kids eat less.

Have a nice day… Insincere words.

Sorry about that… Dumb, mindless response that really means “Up yours, I don’t really care.”

Satisfied customer… The lowest level of acceptable service. One who had an average experience and will shop elsewhere.

Loyal customer… One who had a great experience, loves you, will fight before they switch, and tell everybody they know to do the same.

Thank you note… Personal care, smile, memorable.

Competitive advantage… something that your customer considers very important, at which you excel (MAJOR CLUE: It has nothing to do with the competition.)

Reorder… I liked everything about it the last time

Referral… Risk. I’m willing to risk my reputation by giving you the name of someone because I trust you enough.

Measure of your success… Unsolicited referral.

Unsolicited referral… Your phone rang because of something GREAT you did for someone else and they referred you WITHOUT BEING ASKED. The best way to measure your effectiveness and service (hint the same is true if you DON’T get any). The measure of and reaction to how others speak about you behind your back.

“But Jeffrey,” you say, “Those aren’t the “real” definitions.”

“You’re right, I say. “They’re not they’re the “real world” definitions. The definitions that matter to you and your wallet.”

Scholars are prone to go by the “book” or the dictionary definition Lucky for me, I’m not a scholar I’m a salesman.

FREE GitBit… Want five real definitions that could make a difference in the way you look at the sale and your career forever. Just go to click Free Stuff the click GitBit register and enter the secret word, “DEFINITION”.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to

1999 All Rights Reserved Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written

permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/3331112