The only way a salesperson will survive in this Sales 2.0 landscape is if they can write. What used to be the “gift of gab” in sales is now the “gift of the written word.” Everything you do in sales requires you to write- from a simple email to proposal to newsletter to LinkedIn message to tweets to commenting on blogs. And here’s a scary statistic: The US Department of Education last year estimated 93 million US adults have Basic and Below Basic literacy skills -its pretty scary how much bad writing is out there these day.
If you are not a good writer, it’s time to kick-it up a notch and take some writing classes, read more and hire an editor. That’s how I’ve grown in my writing over the years, I’ve hired extremely talented editors who helped make my words snap, crackle and pop. I have a few thoughts:
Word choice- I like Jason Fried’s article titled Why Is Business Writing so Awful? He finds most business writing is boring, bad and find it’s “devoid of nutrition and completely unsatisfying.” Jason has taken standard corporate speak such as full-service solutions provider and found 47,000 companies using that on a Google search. And when he did a search of cost-effective end-to-end solution, he found 95,000 results. And here’s the winner, 600,000 matches for provider of value-added services. Oops, I think I introduce myself as the “inside sales solutions provider” so that won’t fly anymore.
When we are selling by phone and online- the words carry more value so what you say/write and how you say it is key. If you sound like every other vendor prospecting, you will be treated like every other vendor.
Creating Conflict- Another refreshing perspective comes from one of my favorite marketing gurus, David Meerman Scott who has a new ebook titled, Gaijin Male Model: A Case Study in Conflict-Driven Business Writing. He suggests we create more conflict in our writing instead of the typical “propaganda-driven marketing crap” and he points out this writing is usually all about ”here’s our product, it is great, here are customers who say its great, now buy some product.” I agree and that’s what I usually recommend but like David suggests, why don’t we shake it up a bit and create some conflict to make is sound more interesting? Instead think about suggesting a scenario that spells trouble and highlighting all the things that could go wrong, then coming in with a solution. Much more interesting, don’t you think? Now go create some conflict……ok?