Sales jargon_buzzwords
Sales Intelligence

Does Your Corporate Jargon Make Sense? A: No

by Leah Messenger , Content Marketing Manager 9 Min.
November 9, 2022 | Updated November 15, 2022

Did you know Justin Bieber made that award-winning song “What Do U Mean” after a confusing cold sales email with someone trying to sell him building insulation? 

Okay so, that didn’t happen. But I think we can all agree – sales and corporate jargon can be all types of weird. Yet we still hear it every day, and sometimes (or maybe, a lot of time) can’t help but use the words ourselves. 

We took some of the age-old sales and business buzzwords, and a few of the ones that just seem plain bizarre, and found out if people actually have any clue what we’re talking about. 

Conclusion: they don’t. 

10 examples of the worst corporate jargon and business buzzwords

We put these business buzzwords and sales team jargon to the test. How? By plugging it into our Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence tool to find out how many times people were asking the internet “what does this even mean?”. 

Thanks to our Keyword Generator, we can even find out related search terms to these phrases, which means we can pick up search volume for the keyword list as a whole.

…And have the sneaky insight into exactly what people are searching for. 👀

corporate jargon and business buzzwords

*The last one is 10/10 cringe for one big reason: most of you are saying it wrong. 

Fancy a deep dive (👈 this one was going to be #11) into these bad examples of sales chat and find out the real saying about pudding? 

Consider your wish granted. ✨

1) Let’s circle back later

🔊“Circle back”

Definition: To return to a conversation or email thread at a later point in time

 

Now, we put this one out to the team at Similarweb, and it was the most-hated corporate jargon by far. Apparently we’re not alone with the top ranking article for the keyword being How “circle back” became the most used (and hated) work phrase ever. What are your thoughts? You can take your time to decide and >> circle back << later.

The phrase has an average monthly search volume of 11,190, with its related search terms having an additional word of “meaning”, “synonym”, or similar on the end. 

circle back search terms

Which confirmed our suspicions: we either have no idea what “circle back” means, desperately want a phrase to replace “circle back” in our emails and conversations, or sometimes just can’t be bothered so go ahead and use it anyway. (We’ve all been there). 

Let’s take a look at users who are searching for the meaning of circle back – the ones that have no idea what you mean when you use it. We can do that by creating a specific Keyword Group, listing the related phrases to “circle back meaning”, and check the countries the traffic is coming from. 

circle back countries searching for these words

Interesting to see that the leading country is in fact an English-speaking country. So, remind us why we can’t help but end emails with “let’s circle back further down the line”? 

2) I just wanted to touch base with you

🔊“Touch base”

Definition: To make contact with – or re-open a conversation with – someone

 

Oh, just another phrase we can’t help but use, even though it doesn’t really make much sense…

Now, “touch base” has a huge search volume of 38,820. The two highest-ranking websites for this keyphrase? Merriam-Webster.com and Cambridge.org – yes, that’s two online dictionaries. 

touch base websites

The meaning of “touch base” is evidently something that people around the world struggle with, despite it being in around 83% of emails sent (source: my own LinkedIn inbox). 

touch base search term list - just a few meaning posts

In fact, it’s not just the meaning of it – it’s how to translate it, too. Can’t say Google Translate is going to help you out with a direct translation with this piece of salesperson jargon. 😬

touch base translations

3) We want that low-hanging fruit

🔊“Low-hanging fruit”

Definition: The tasks, measures, goals, or targets that are the most easily achievable

 

Low-hanging fruit” has an average search volume of 31,400 – which, to be honest – we can kind of understand. It’s a very overused piece of corporate jargon. And with most of the search variations trying to define this piece of corporate or sales jargon, as well as efforts for a direct translation, it’s kind of baffling how often we see or hear it. 

It’s a figurative term that was coined back in the early 1900s, but it became especially popular in the 1980s. Not quite popular enough, it seems…

low hanging fruit search terms

But where in the world is this traffic coming from? See below and you’ll find out that, once again, even native-English speakers don’t even know what we’re going on about with “low-hanging fruit”, and it’s used across so many different industries too. 

low hanging fruit list countries

4) Why don’t we take this offline?

🔊“Take this offline”

Definition: To talk about a certain topic separately with someone, or at another time

 

Okay, so maybe “take this offline” isn’t as widely unknown as the others we’ve mentioned with an average search volume of 180 and “take this offline meaning” being 590.

take this offline keyword list

It’s a term that’s been around for a while, and can mean – or imply – a few different things. The main meaning, however, is what we’ve said above in the definition. You know, when you’re sitting in those meetings with specific intent, and then the topic somehow goes off-course. The person leading the meeting may then go, “Let’s take this offline” to keep things on track (and on time). Or, it can mean taking this new conversation somewhere in private after the meeting.

Since the pandemic, this term has really picked up the pace. Here’s some insight into the traffic distribution since December 2019 to now.

take this offline traffic distribution since covid

Where traffic was going has changed a bit over time, with a strong start from the slightly blunt definition from Urban Dictionary and a similar vibe from Expert Employee… 

Did the pandemic change the underlying meaning forever? Or did it heighten our paranoia – or our impatience? 🤔

5) We’ve moved the needle in a big way

🔊“Move the needle”

Definition: To change a situation in a noticeable way

 

Then we’ve got “move the needle”, a phrase that determines – usually a positive – change or move in business. The phrase’s search volume is 8,100, so yes, it’s another one that the people you’re sending emails to (and maybe even you) don’t know the meaning of. 

move the needle list

‘中文’ translates as ‘Chinese’, so we’ve got a fair few people looking for the Chinese equivalent, and ‘slownik ang’ means ‘English dictionary’ in Polish. Fascinating (but only if Google Translate didn’t lie to us here). 

However, the traffic looks like it’s coming from a range of locations, maybe suggesting those searching for the definition or translation are using it for their own outbound emails or communication.

move the needle countries

6) Let’s put this on the backburner

🔊“On the backburner”

Definition: To deal with something at a later stage

 

A much longer way to say postpone, delay, set aside, shelve, and so on – but also, perhaps, a way to be let down more gently. We’ve all been there – worked hard on a project or a sales pitch, and it gets moved to the hypothetical “backburner”. Ideal scenario is that you do actually come back to it, whether or not that happens though… 😬

on the backburner search volume

It’s a commonly used phrase, which we can all admit to using at some point. But the definition – or maybe the implication – is apparently not so widely understood. How do we know this? Because yet again, all traffic points towards variations of Dictionaries, although it looks like Google’s featured snippet does a good job at informing us. 

on the backburner website distribution

7) We need to get our ducks in a row

🔊“Ducks in a row”

Definition: To organize any tasks you have so you’re ready for the next step

 

Ducks? In the office? Now, that’s just quack-ers. 🦆

(Sorry). 

In actual fact, this idiom is supposedly adopted from the world of sport – namely, pool or a lawn bowling game which was popular in the 1700s. Nowadays, it’s far more of a corporate catchphrase than a sporty one. 

Judging by the related search terms, the question “where did this phrase even come from” is one on a lot of people’s minds. 

ducks in a row search terms

But from the “ducks in a row” term’s search traffic, we can see it’s not widely adopted (or questioned) beyond English-speaking countries. 

Apply all the related search terms in the list, and you’ll see the traffic branches a little – just a little – further than that.

ducks in a row countries

8) It’s time to double-down on your marketing efforts

🔊“Double-down”

Definition: To strengthen your strategy or re-commit your efforts to a particular cause

 

Alliteration is all fun and games, until you realize the phrase doesn’t actually make much sense. And word on the street is (/reliable data from Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence says) that “double down meaning” has a HUGE average search volume of 43,810 per month. Yikes.

double down meaning

However, it looks like time has done favors for this piece of sales jargon or corporate spiel, with traffic seriously calming down since April this year. Although, it looks like Spring and Summer 2021 had a flat period too. Is that the season to *not* be doubling down in? 

double down meaning traffic distribution

9) You’re going to get more bang for your buck

🔊“More bang for your buck”

Definition: To bring more value for money

 

Given the fact this sales buzzword (or phrase) refers to a buck, you can guess the origin was the USA with its currency. Which would be correct, but what you wouldn’t know is that “bang” actually did refer to firepower. 💥

These days, it’s more about value, and sometimes excitement – which we’d say is pretty valuable too, right? 

Anyway, it’s a phrase used in far more places around the world than just the US these days, but do we all know what it means? Quick answer: maybe not so much. 

We put together a group of related key search terms that question its meaning or how to translate it, and here’s where most of those searches came from: 

bang for your buck countries

On top of that, we can see a lot of monthly searches for terms like “bang for your buck synonym” (1,910), “another way to say bang for your buck” (530), and “what is a more formal term for bang for your buck” (410). 

Will there be a term that replaces it and gives more bang for your buck? Whatever happens, we just hope this doesn’t catch on again:

bang for your buck bounce to ounce

10) Just you wait – the proof is in the pudding

🔊“The proof is in the pudding” 

Definition: The real value or worth is only seen by putting it to the test or using it

 

Just a warning: we’re about to hit you with some real truths. 

“The proof is in the pudding” isn’t the real phrase – it’s “the proof of the pudding is in the eating” and in all honesty, we’re here for that idiom here at Similarweb. 🍰

Now, a lot of you might say you knew that – but it’s pretty clear that most of you don’t. Look at the average monthly search volume for them both:

  • proof is in the pudding”: 12,390
  • proof of the pudding is in the eating”: 1,620

Seeing as the majority of us are getting it wrong, let’s have a look at what else people are searching for with our Keyword Generator and its related search terms. 

proof is in the pudding search terms

Combine these all together and we’ve got an average search volume of 45,270. And again, the majority of this traffic ends up landing on an online dictionary of some sort. 

proof in the pudding website distribution

Less business buzzwords, more ACTUAL business 

Who would have thought it? All those business buzzwords we throw at each other don’t actually make much sense at all – and there are very easy (and less-cringeworthy) ways to say the same thing too. Maybe something to remember for your next sales email or phone call. 👀

Anyway, we’ve now shown you just one of the cool things you can do with Similarweb Pro, but like we said – the proof is in the pudding.

Or more accurately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating

So go on then, see how Similarweb Sales Intelligence (and beyond) can work for you and your business by booking a demo.

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