“Why didn’t I get the sale?” — Atelier Pan

“Why didn’t I get the sale?”

Do you recognise this reaction? Have you ever asked yourself the same question?

You’re a business.
You're selling a product.
And you're talking to a prospect.

Then this happens:

“I thought I explained the situation and the benefits of my solution so clearly that she had to see this is just perfect for her. She just had to buy from me. Boy, what was I wrong…”

Here’s where you probably dropped the ball:


Have you ever heard about something called 'The Curse of Knowledge’?

I think my first encounter with the curse was in high school. I took a physics class and I had a 'brilliant teacher'.

Atelier Pan curse of knowledge physics class

—Source: image from Wikipedia

He was a brilliant man who knew a lot about physics.

But he just wasn’t able to explain the concepts in such a way that I, and a lot of students with me, could grasp them. So instead of making things clearer for us, he often made things even more confusing.

He made things too complicated by using the wrong language.

So in that sense he was not a brilliant teacher.

It's like something that Donald Miller says:

"If you confuse, you loose."

Something you definitely don’t want to happen.

Here's what you need to do to prevent that:


You are the expert,so you know a lot about the subject.

Your client knows nothing about the subject or at least a lot less than you do.
That's why they are coming to you in the first place, right?

So if you see it as a scale of one to ten:

Atelier Pan curse of knowledge bridge gap

You are the expert, you're at ten.
Your clients are at one, because they don't know anything.

A lot of people already know that they have to explain what they're doing in a simple way. They have to simplify their language. But even when they do, they tend to only jump down to around seven.

Atelier Pan curse of knowledge bridge gap

Your client, however, is still at one.

So you need to simplify your message even further.
Try to see things from their point of view.

That’s where the curse of knowledge gets in the your way. It’s preventing you from doing that, because you know so much about the subject that you can't imagine anymore what it would be like if you didn't.

“You’re too close to your business.”

Here’s an example:


A while ago there was a study at Stanford. They did an experiment.

You had to tap a song with your fingers and people had to guess which song you were tapping.

You can’t tap the song without playing it inside your head. But when other people hear you tapping the song, they don’t hear the same song to help them out. They lack that knowledge.

So, you’re thinking: "I’m tapping this song, everybody should be able to guess what this song is." In your head it’s so obvious.

Of course the percentage of the people that guess the right song was really low.

But what is even more amazing, is that the ’tappers' had to predict the percentage of the people that would guess the right song. The ’tappers' predicted was that the correct song would be guessed about 50% of the time. In reality this was more like 2,5%.

The thing is that once you know what song it is, you cannot imagine what it would be like if you didn’t.

That’s the curse of knowledge.


So to summarize, it's very hard for you as the expert to look at things from the point of view of someone who doesn't have your extensive knowledge.

But there is a way. You *can* bridge the gap. The way to deal with that is to really simplify your language.

Atelier Pan curse of knowledge bridge gap

—Source: image from Unsplash

If you're able to explain your idea, your product or your service to your six year old nephew and you can make them understand what you do, you're on the right track.

Here are two ways to make that happen:

1. Explain everything

“You need to over-communicate,”
—says Jeff Walker.

You need to explain everything you do.
And you need to offer what you do to your clients in bite-size chunks.
Otherwise they get overwhelmed.

2. Use different modalities
Try to offer the information you’re trying to convey in different ways. Some people learn better when you show them the information —Visual. Some people learn better when they hear the information —Auditory. Even others are Kinaesthetic. They learn better by carrying out physical activities.

So if you offer your knowledge in more ways (modalities), you'll have a better chance to make people understand what you’re talking about.

Quick recap:
Explain your story in a simple way, communicate every step, apply different learning modes and then you’ll be able to circumvent the curse of knowledge.


Trying to clarify or simplify your message is also the first tip in my new ebook: Bite-sized Brand Boost

In the ebook you’ll discover 5 tips to attract attention with your website, and keep it.

I'd like to offer you a preview of the ebook.

Atelier Pan Free Ebook Bite-sized Brand Boost

All you need to do, is: Explain to me what you do or what you offer in the comments below, and I’ll send you a preview of the new ebook.

See if you can apply what you just learned in this article and your message will become crystal clear.
Good luck!

With pleasure,


Atelier Pan  •  Brand Design for Conscious Entrepreneurs

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