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Corporate Speak

Even if you are in a technical position, you may still find yourself dealing with sales people and other corporate types. You may also discover that they speak a different language and use an arsenal of corny phrases that might just give you the hives. This article is a glossary of our 35 favorite terms and phrases.

Demonstration of the corporate food chain, whereby larger eats smaller and then excretes all non-essential nutrients.

Action Item
Something which needs to be either done or at least placed in a list of things in need of doing. This is probably the most annoying corporate term that there is.

A big problem that nobody in the company knows how to fix. A challenge may very well lead to the demise of said company. If your company spends more time talking about challenges than home runs, it may be time to look for a new job.

The group of people in a company that make the important decisions and all of the money. You are most likely not a member of this group.

Corporate Vision
The list of things that a company would like to provide and accomplish. Most are more like hallucinations than visions.

Features of a product that should have been included in the original release, however, due to market pressure the product had to be released without these features. These may be sent to customers if/when they are available.

This is a misunderstanding. For example, your sales staff is probably selling a product that was discontinued in the '70s. This would be a disconnect between sales and marketing.

Diversity awareness/training
The classes that are taken when a racial discrimination or sexual harassment complaint has been filed against a company in order to limit legal liability.

If you request information from me, I will give you the download. This term is usually used by sales staff in hi-tech companies that want to seem cool in front of the computer geeks.

Fast Track
Usually referring to a person that has moved up the corporate ladder faster than they could prove their worth or be held accountable for the mess they made.

Growth industry
A bandwagon. All aboard?

Hit a Home Run
This can either mean that things went according to planned for once or that the sales team has actually been coming into work and selling stuff.

This means to motivate someone to do something by promising something (usually a company mug or pen) if they do. They become a perfectly predictable robot, subject to the whims and offerings of the clever, incentive-offering manager.

Integrated solution
A utopian term meaning that all of the different parts of a solution (product or series of products) work together. While the term is used frequently, there is no such thing in the real world.

Key Enabler
The person that will get all of the credit on a project.

A fancy version of the word "use." For example, instead of saying "We could use your product knowledge to help us make a sale", the corporate type would say, "We could leverage your product knowledge to help us make a sale". The use of this word is one of many examples of people trying to sound important in the office.

Major Account
As a technical type, these are the accounts that you will drop everything for and brown-nose at the request of sales and management.

A measurement of success or value. These measurable parameters are used by companies to make important decisions regardless as to whether or not they are measuring what they should be or their collection model is sound.

Next steps
Next steps are where you go from here and can refer to a project or a process. It is difficult to ever complete these steps due to the number of meetings scheduled to determine what the next steps are.

The reasons why a customer does not want to buy from your sales people. The most common objection is the overuse of the terms on this page which tends to confuse the customer. The antidote is plain English.

This means to discuss something in a place or at a time other than the one you currently find yourself in. This may be used by managers to convey that they do not wish to talk about the subject, they do not find it important or you are wasting everyone else's time in a meeting.

Out of the Loop
This phrase means that one has not been informed about a subject. It is used to deny responsibility or to complain about not having been consulted.

Outside the Box
Creativity. Those that do think outside the box are generally considered rabble-rousers and trouble-makers. While verbally encouraged, your reward for thinking outside the box may be a pink slip party.

The process of laying off internal employees in favor of a staff of high-school drop-outs run by another company for half the price.

The cost of keeping the lights on and the doors open.

To take responsibility for something. Someone who "owns" something can never claim that they are "out of the loop."

A meeting before another meeting in which the company slackers will get together and figure out what to say or present at the next meeting so that they do not make fools of themselves.

An employee. Resources are managed by a group which calls itself "Human Resources." Like hardware, resources have fixed lifespans, can become obsolete and can even malfunction.

Poor choices have been made and the company needs to start from scratch. Will include massive layoffs and double the workload for those that remain. Upper management will all receive raises.

Talk Track
A sales pitch committed to memory by sales staff. Designed to prevent foot-in-mouth syndrome and to discourage creativity.

This term refers to a group of people that work together. The team is strongest when composed of "Yes" men and women.

The process of convincing a customer to purchase products and services that they do not want or need.

Tacking on extra features (for free) to an existing product so that customers have difficulty comparing prices with competitors.

War Story
A story told by a salesperson that describes a difficult sale that they made. It usually starts off something like, "So I was in the Bahamas..."

A fascinating business concept that somehow eliminates the "loser" in any deal or project. A win/win situation is when a customer pays their bills on time and doesn't ever complain.