Do Salespeople & Technologists Communicate Differently?

Salespeople vs. Technologists

When I reflect on my 20 years’ experience developing the ability of salespeople and technologists to communicate, the first thing that comes to mind is how different they can be.

Salespeople generally like to talk about ideas, vision, and strategy, whereas technologists tend to be more comfortable talking about plans, processes, and details.

Salespeople are often outgoing, enthusiastic, and spontaneous. Technologists are usually more methodical, organized, and prepared.

Salespeople are more likely to use stories, analogies, and humor, while technologists tend to speak directly using language that is factual and specific.

Typical Salesperson

  • Likes to talk about ideas, vision, and strategy
  • Outgoing, enthusiastic, and spontaneous
  • More likely to use stories, analogies, and humor

Typical Technologist

  • Likes to talk about plans, processes, and details
  • Methodical, organized, and prepared
  • More likely to use language that’s factual and specific

Now, it may be tempting to assume one group is better at communicating than the other. The truth is, both can be superb communicators—with the right training.

And in my decades of high-tech corporate experience, I’ve found Mandel Communications’ training to be the key to success for both audiences. Why? Because Mandel programs have a lasting impact on performance and enable practitioners to achieve tangible results.

A Common Language Bridges the Divide

Over the years, I’ve received consistent feedback from sales and technology focus groups as to why the Mandel training works so well.

Mandel offers a structured and simple (yet highly effective) communications framework that is grounded in neuroscience.

This framework gives sales and technical teams (and their leaders) a common language for communicating more precisely and clearly. Clevertech Founder Kuty Shalev offers a great explanation for why using a common language works.

He writes, “expressions within a common language do something called ‘chunking’ or compartmentalizing information. You communicate using terms or phrases that denote more complex concepts or collections of information, and you save precious time in the process . . . When you eliminate ambiguity, employees can proceed confidently with a task rather than spend time trying to decipher the underlying meaning.”

Salespeople and technologists end up using this shared framework not only for presentations, but also for emails, voicemails, to conduct in-person or virtual meetings, or to simply frame their ideas so that they can be heard.

The Struggle to Make an Emotional Connection

One of the most valuable aspects of Mandel’s framework is its narrative approach.

In other words, the framework gives salespeople and technologists the tools to become natural storytellers who can influence their audience to make decisions or take action faster.

How often have you seen a sales team or group of technologists create a well laid-out, logical sales pitch citing all of the right data and resources—and, yet, they still couldn’t get the audience to take action?

It happens all the time.

As award-winning screenwriter Robert McKee says, “People are not inspired to take action by reason alone. The way people are persuaded to take action is by uniting ideas with emotion.”

Both salespeople and technologists have to be able to make an emotional connection in order help listeners or customers make decisions.

Salespeople almost always instinctively know this and want to do it, but they often don’t know how. Technologists tend to find the prospect of emotional connection altogether uncomfortable and often don’t want to go there at all.

The first challenge, then, is helping practitioners with the how—how do you tell a story that builds an emotional connection? The second challenge is how do you make it easy for people who may not be entirely comfortable with the idea of it?

For answers to those questions, let’s first take a look at what NOT to do according to McKee.

“It takes rationality to design an argument using conventional rhetoric, but it demands vivid insight and storytelling skill to present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable,” says McKee. “You absolutely do not want to tell a beginning-to-end tale describing how results meet expectations.”

Yet, this is exactly what most communication training teaches professionals to do. According to ATD statistics, American companies alone spend over $20 billion a year on sales training—yet sales teams are still facing the same old challenges.

Instead, McKee stresses, “you want to display the struggle between expectation and reality . . . The story may not have a happy ending.”

Neuroscience helps us understand why this works so well.

Lighting Up the Limbic Brain to Influence Decisions

Patrick Renvoise, author of Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain, says that to sell an idea or product, you need to be able to tap into the part of the brain that controls someone’s impulse to buy.

Renvoise writes: “The new brain is the most recent evolutionary addition to our brain, and it controls our ability to rationalize decisions and thoughts. The middle brain processes our ability to feel and have emotions. Our gut feelings reside here. The old brain, or the reptilian brain is where our instinctual decisions are made.”

He goes on to say that, “The brain uses all three parts to make decisions but it is within the reptilian brain where most of our decisions, at least the important ones, are made. You have to figure out what kind of pain your audience is undergoing, because at the crux of our decision making for buying is pain avoidance.”

Bringing Sales & Technical Communicators Together

Mandel’s communication framework helps you zero in on the pain, or the distance between expectation and reality.

It provides a simple, logical, easy-to-use storytelling structure for talking about the business problems or struggle—and what’s at stake if no decision is made.

Because the framework is so well-structured and easy to apply, salespeople and technologists know exactly what steps they need to take to tell a persuasive story. No guesswork needed.

Practitioners can be confident in their ability to deliver messages that build a strong emotional connection with customers, executives, team members—or any stakeholder for that matter.

I’ve seen repeatedly how this communications approach bridges the gap between sales and technical communicators.

Using this structured framework, job role differences and preferences diminish. Practitioners are able to consider diverse perspectives—and then come together to deliver a cohesive message that cuts to the emotional quick (or limbic brain), inspiring a “Yes!” response from their audience.

When this happens, the productivity gains for a business can be extraordinary.


Dig deeper into elements of the Mandel Blueprint® and discover how your organization can benefit from using a shared communications framework.


  • Inc, the Young Entrepreneurs,  “Build a Stronger Team by Honing Your Common Language”, by Kuty Shalev, Founder of Clevertech, May 22, 2015
  • HBR, “Storytelling That Moves People”, Bronwyn Fryer, from the June, 2003 issue.
  • IQS Research, Sep 2011, “Is there a Buy Button in our brain? Interview with Patrick Renvoise


Picture of Suzanne McLarnon

Suzanne McLarnon

Suzanne, founder and principal the McLarnon Group, is a strategic thinker and leader who creates highly effective learning solutions to complex business problems. She and her teams have won 20 industry awards for enablement programs for Sales, Technical Professionals, Leaders, and New Hire audiences. Suzanne has global industry experience as AVP of Workforce Development at MetLife. She also served as the Director of Worldwide Sales Development at Cisco. Recognized as an “intrepreneur," Suzanne has created ten global programs and teams in response to business challenges. Adept at working across cultures, Suzanne thrives in high technology and startup environments. You can reach Suzanne by emailing
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