Are You Being Viewed As An Empty Suit? Would You Even Know?

larry levine Mar 06, 2023
Are You Being Viewed As An Empty Suit? Would You Even Know?
"Illusion is needed to disguise the emptiness within."
Arthur Erickson

Let's just hit this one head on...

What may you be disguising?

What may you be hiding?

As defined by Merriam-Webster, an illusion is...

Something that looks or seems different from what it is: something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real.

An incorrect idea: an idea that is based on something that is not true.

Mirror moment for many of you... At the end of each one of these questions ask yourself, Would I know?

How are you presenting yourself to your clients?

Does the walk match the talk?

What is true and not true?

"We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality."
Iris Murdoch

Allow me to take you back to 1977 as I introduce you to the legendary rock band, Styx, and their hit the Grand Illusion... Some of you are old enough to remember, so feel free to sing along with me...

Welcome to the Grand illusion
Come on in and see what's happening
Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
The stage is set, the band starts playing
Suddenly your heart is pounding
Wishing secretly you were a star

I will throw a sales spin on this one... Sales professionals deep down inside, do not wish they were a star, they know they're a star in the minds of their clients, future clients and out into the community.

Sales professionals lead with intention. They are congruent with their actions. They carry themselves with confidence. They are the example. There is no illusion.

Sales professionals align their vision and values, earning the respect of their clients. With purposeful intent, they engage in heartfelt activities benefitting all those around them.

I believe your clients do not want a grand illusion nor an empty suit. Your clients, future clients and the community crave a sales professional who is heartfelt, sincere and carries themselves with empathy, emotion and excitement.


"Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them."
Winston Churchill

Sales professionals hold themselves personally accountable and self-manage themselves to a higher degree of standards than all the other empty suits.

They are masterful in opening business conversations as they speak the language of leadership.

With confidence and conviction, they communicate insight and ideas to the hearts and minds of those whom they wish to move to action, their clients and future clients. They keep conversation simple and straightforward.

How well are you communicating the language of leadership?

How well are you engaging your clients in business conversation?

How are you being perceived by your clients?

"Empty pockets never held anyone back, only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."
Norman Vincent Peale

Sales professionals are not empty suits in the eyes of their clients, future clients and community.


“Emptiness is a symptom that you are not living creatively. You either have no goal that is important enough to you, or you are not using your talents and efforts in a striving toward an important goal.”
Maxwell Maltz

Perception is reality through the eyes of those that matter most, and this would be your clients and future clients.

I believe the words you use and the messaging you use determines how someone views you.

Buzz-riddled and industry-riddled sales jargon, acronyms and phrases... all of this may sound impressive to you but despite sounding important, there's usually little meaning nor substance behind the words or messaging.

Do your clients understand your sales language?

Are you using the same overused sets of jargon to describe situations as a replacement for just speaking plain old normal language?

How many of you are relying on industry buzzwords, catch phrases and acronyms to communicate concepts rather than explaining what they mean?

Let's get real for a moment... Do you think this makes you sound or look smart? I promise you this... It only adds to more confusion as opposed to clarity.

Words matter and you must choose them wisely.

When sales professionals communicate, it brings them to life and people take notice.

When you hide behind catch phrases and buzzwords this will only expose you and subsequently label you as an empty suit.

Nothing worse than an uneducated sales rep who recites information off the back of a brochure.
No alt text provided for this image
Click on the image to learn more and grab your ticket to the Selling from the Heart Experience


Play along with me...

I’m hoping you have the bandwidth to meet with me over the next few weeks to discuss our proposal. Our team is trying to make sure our messaging is aligned with your team. We think that this will really move the needle, so I’m pinging you with these extra resources to review with your team prior to our meeting. Look forward to circling back with you soon.

How many of you are you laughing out loud?

These words drive your clients bonkers...

  • Turnkey
  • Streamline
  • Think outside the box
  • Best in class
  • Cutting technology
  • Leading edge
  • Hard stop
  • Paradigm shift
  • At the end of the day
  • Pivot
  • Table this
  • Move the needle

Shall we peel back the onion some more or are you starting to get what I am cooking?

We all know how hard it is to gain access to meetings with key decision makers.

When you do get that coveted meeting, it’s mission critical you maximize every minute.

The last thing you want is to have decision makers walk away empty handed, or worse, leaving them confused or none the wiser.

Listen up...

Empty suits cover up their lack of understanding and experience with sales jargon, all because they think it sounds good. All this does is confuse, alienate and label you.

In George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language” he shares his opinion on our reliance on “dying metaphors,” “pretentious diction,” “stale similes and idioms,” that have clouded our thinking.

He understood that if we only recite clichéd and meaningless phrases because they sound nice, we’re spared the effort and challenge of not only crafting our thoughts and opinions into fresh language, but confronting what our thoughts and opinions really are.

In other words, using unclear and cliched sales jargon reflects upon you with unclarity and canned thinking. 

Overusing business jargon and buzzwords, this simply undermines your credibility as a salesperson. It makes you sound like a mouthpiece spewing business advice from a billboard, and all this does is get you labeled.

So, how do you want to be viewed?


"Self-worth comes from one thing - thinking that you are worthy."
Wayne Dyer

Sales professionals are professionals for a reason. They live, walk, talk and breathe as a sales professional.

Do you believe in YOU and your messaging?

Are you carrying yourself with confidence?

Are you communicating with clarity and conviction?

An executive appearance, presence and attitude may open some business doors of opportunity, however; without competence those will quickly dissipate.

I would like all you to stop for a moment and think about this scenario...

What happens in a first meeting, when an executive shares their vision, business initiatives and challenges and all you can contribute to the conversation is a stream of buzzwords, canned pitches and sales jargon?

This my sales friends is an empty suit.


There are way too many sales reps who believe they are ‘A’ players, but they are nothing more than ‘C’ players hiding in an empty suit.  

If you find yourself being labeled or judged as being an empty suit, stop and then ask yourself...

Is it true?

Is it limiting you?

Take all of this to heart as you are responsible for how your clients and future clients view you. Yes, you heard me correctly, you are responsible for how you show up.

Expensive name brand clothing is no substitute for business acumen, business substance and business conversation.

Fine clothing is not a substitute for brains.

I encourage you to look in the mirror...

  • Are you being sincere with your clients?
  • Are you bringing all sizzle and no substance to your clients?
  • Are you engaging in business conversation with your clients?

I will leave you all with this to think about...

You can control what you can control, and this is how you carry yourself. If you want to avoid being labeled as an empty suit, then it is your sole responsibility to do something about it.

Originally published on Larry Levine's LinkedIn.

Pre-order Selling From the Heart on Barnes & Noble get over $300 in Bonus Items!

Learn More

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.