Monday, January 18, 2010

"Legalese" and the fun times of translating it

Recent news in late night talk show upheavals likes me to non-compete clauses in business. Is it fair for a job to ask you to not consider competitors AFTER your time with them has ended? On one side I can understand the guarding of trade secrets yet isn't that why lawsuits are filed? I wonder how many other jobs have non-compete clauses...Pepsi and Coke? Different investment banks? Burger King and McDonald's?

I hear from many tech companies of people jumping ship all the time, from Google to Apple to Microsoft, etc. Why are some industries more paranoid then others? I would assume trade secrets would be far more valuable for tech companies then others. For sales jobs, I assume stating "I used to work for company x and boy was that shady" might hurt as well as help your pitch.

Legalese can basically be translated as using fancy jargon where simple explanations would do just fine. This happens all too often in sales pitches where internal company lingo leaks into the conversation, though the client may be none-the-wiser about such terms. It is always easier to explain something to someone in your own line of work then to someone outside it. Why is it so hard to boil down thoughts to a language that a common man (read: customer) can understand it. People don't buy why they can't understand (note I don't suggest that many customers fully understand what they are purchasing, just that they think they do), so talking to clients in a legalese type language with your product by name dropping features will hurt more then help. Having catchy or pithy names for products or services might make for nice ad bytes, but for convincing a client? Not so much.

Best weapon against legalese -> Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Both for the client to the salesperson, and for the salesperson to the client. That should help get to the root of the question...whether you want it, or not? And whether you really want it, or not? ;)


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