Should Sales People Be Blogging?


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I’ve been reading a lot of opinions about sales people blogging–many favoring this. Frankly, I think this is dead wrong, from a business point of view, I’m not certain that sales people blogging is an efficient or effective use of their time. Don’t get me wrong, I think all sales professionals should be actively participating and leveraging social media, but I don’t see a whole lot of value in having sales people blogging–at least regularly.

What do we want sales people to blog about? Perhaps they could “pitch our products,” they could write about our products, features, functions, feeds and speeds. If I were a sales executive, it would seem like a tremendous waste of time, duplication of effort, creates great exposure for our overall messaging, and reinforces behaviors we should be trying to avoid. Think about it, isn’t that the function of our marketing organizations? Don’t we want them to create a whole stream of communications–correctly positioning our products and solutions, tailoring the messages to specific customer problems, creating a stream of customer experiences and interactions? Why do we need sales people jumping in and doing what they think best, as well? If I have 10 sales people, why do we need them each expressing their opinions about the latest greatest widget we announced? What’s the purpose of 10 views of the product spec sheet? Just when I’m trying to get sales people to engage customers in a conversation and not just regurgitate the latest PowerPoint presentation, why do I want to have 10 people spending their time reinventing the wheel–and probably not doing it as well as our marketing people?

Some might say, “Dave, you have it all wrong, the sales people should be writing about issues and problems, nurturing the customer through their buying process.” Well, I don’t get it, I think that’s an important function, but isn’t that part of the nurturing strategy our marketing organizations should be implementing (with the support of sales). Plus, who is the sales person nurturing in this process? Do I have a sales person with a territory in Southern California nurturing our German customers? Then as that German customer starts to need a sales person, do I have that Southern California sales person jump on the plane to visit the German customer? Then I multiply it by 10–for my 10 person sales organization. How do I manage their productivity? What do I make them accountable for? How do we build deep customer relationships?

Should sales people be blogging about their customers perhaps? Don’t we want our sales people focusing on the customer–focusing on their specific needs and priorities, focusing helping them address new opportunities? Where does the sales person’s blog fit into this?

Blogging is an effective way to reach a large number of people, to start to communicate, to start a conversation, to start the engagement process. But sales people focus on specifics–they identify companies and organizations, they identify individuals within those organizations, they work one to one. It doesn’t seem to me that blogging is an effective tool or method for sales people to be leveraging for those purposes. Every way I look at it, I think requiring our sales people to blog is just wrong.

Blogging is important. Every organization needs to incorporate blogging into their socia media, marketing, and selling strategies. But blogging is just one channel for social media/selling and needs to be leveraged heavily and in concert with the other tools and channels we are leveraging to inform and engage customers and prospects. We need to make sure our marketing organizations are leveraging blogging to the utmost, creating strong, consistent messages for our markets, customers and prospects.

Sales people need to be actively engaged in social media and social selling—but this is far broader than blogging. State differently, too many people think Social Media = Blogging. This is dead wrong. Blogging is simply one component of social media and social selling. We need sales people to be reading, listening, and engaging in the social media world–but not exclusively through the social media world. Sales people should be leveraging social media to understand their customers–broadly and specifically. They need to be listening, learning, engaging–reading their customers’ blogs and websites, reading the competitions’ blogs and website, learning about the markets. They need to be engaging, writing thoughtful responses and comments on blogs, participating in online discussions or forums. meeting their customers in the virtual markets as well as the physical markets.

Much of sales people’s communications with customers will be through social channels, but I don’t think sales people blogging is an effective channel.

If a sales person wants to blog, personally, that’s terrific. I know many sales professionals who blog–not on behalf of their company trying to engage customers and drive business, but they do it because it satisfies personal goals they have. Blogging is a wonderful release and a powerful means of expression. I encourage any sales person who wants to to do it–but on your own time, representing primarily your own interests, not as a principal communication channel for the company.

Sure there are always exceptions to this. In small companies sales people may wear multiple hats, they may have some sales and some marketing responsibility–blogging is an important component of the marketing communications strategies. If you are a solopreneur, you wear all the hats in your company, so blogging is important, as is everything else. Some sales executives may find business reason to blog—though I’d be more happy if the marketing organization did that, or if it was a part of an overall plan for executive level engagement.

I’m sure I’ll get many comments and articles that say I’m dead wrong. I’m actually looking forward to reading them and learning. But my belief is we want sales people to be engaged with customers in understanding and solving problems. We want to move sales people away from regurgitating standard pitches to translating how our solutions address their specific problems. Blogging just isn’t the tool for doing this.

What do you think?

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


  1. Dave
    I agree with you. I think a business would get better value by having the CEO and maybe someone from Product Management or R&D blogging about what the company is doing and how they are working on market or customer problems. This type of content then becomes valuable sales material that can either be used directly or indirectly by the sales group.

    I think it’s really powerful to have a sales person sitting with a customer discussing a problem and being able to say – “hey our CEO was blogging about exactly your problem last month, lets bring the post up now…”

    In a perfect world the sales group would be able to spell out what social content they need and where it needs to be so as to support their sales objectives.


    Mark Parker
    Smart Selling

  2. I think all professionals should blog — IF they have something valuable to say. I feel it’s a mistake for anyone, from the CEO on down, to treat blogging as a lead generation exercise. Such blogs are quickly recognized as such and readers tune out.

    There’s been much discussion in the past year that sales reps must change to be more consultative, more engaging, and more attuned with real business issues. Otherwise their jobs will be taken over by the latest automation, outsourced lead gen service or something else.

    If a sales reps contacted me and had a blog that showed he/she really understood my industry and hot issues, I’d be more likely to take a call. Isn’t getting a call back and that first meeting a critical issue for most reps?

    And so what if a prospect from another territory contacts the star blogger rep and tries to engage. Can’t reps refer that lead and maybe even earn a little something for helping? A nice problem to have, if you ask me.

    Bottom line: blogging is not marketing and selling. But it can be used to make marketing and selling professionals more valuable to their customers, their company, and mostly — themselves.

  3. There are so many good points that were made in Dave’s post and the two comments they don’t need repeating. Here are just a few more.

    On the plus side for salespeople blogging:

    • Generally requires research and getting one’s thoughts in order. That’s a good thing for most salespeople.
    • Salesperson can be seen as a thought leader, if what they have to say has value to their market.

    On the minus side:

    • Takes a lot of time without a predictable return (as measured in closed business).
    • If not done right (look and feel of site, writing ability, etc.) can detract from salesperson’s professionalism.

    The bottom line for me is except in rare situations, leave the blogging to the CEO, product and marketing people, and people who get paid for thought-leadership within an organization.

  4. Mark, Bob, thank for the great comments. Bob, I’m really torn in my reactions to your response. In many ways I agree, but in many I struggle–not with the concept but the reality of the execution in the field.

    Many of the tools we promote in Sales 2.0 are tools that drive greater clarity, consistency,quality, maximize impact of communication, while improving the efficiency of sales people.

    Customers clearly want to talk to knowledgeable sales people. Leaders must rasie the bar of performance for all their sales people. Sales people participating in the social community–listening, responding, engaging customers in pwoerful convreations will be increasingly critical in the future.

    I do have a problem with the “star” sales blogger scenario. Here’s just one view. I’m a customer, I discover this blogger, I want to work with the person, no one else. If you shift me to another sales person, I’m likely to be upset–I may go talk to someone else.

    Now extend this to the entire sales force blogging. Our customers now “vote” who they want to sell to them. I now get to choose who covers my account and who I work with.

    I guess I could agree that customers want to engage in conversations with suppliers and sales people must be prepared to do engage their customers in conversations. The conversations will invovle many people on both sides, the conversations will take place concurrently across many different channels. I would tend to view the role of the sales person as the orchestrator of the conversation with the qualified prospect (but not necessarily the person generating the conversation). (We actually have seen this for years as sales people bring specialists in to their accounts). In addtion to orchestrating and leading the conversation, the sales person should manage the execution of the process (again managing all the resources). Finally to be ultimately accountable to the customer for producing a results and to their organization for producing a result. I tend to want to have sales people do those things, leveraging specialists like bloggers to do what they do best.

    Bob, as you can see, I struggling with this one! Appreciate, as always, your insight.

  5. Dave, no easy or simple answers here!

    My view is that if sales reps are going to engage with business executives, blogging could help them grow professionally (writing forces you to think).

    And in some situations (e.g. B2B large accounts) blogging could make it easier for executives to decide whether its worth their while to connect with rep.

    Another benefit of blogging is knowledge sharing. Reps learn about business issues and applications for their solutions. If they could write about these things in a non-salesy way, it could help bring in clients and be an asset to the rest of the organization too.

    Lots of “ifs” in what I just wrote, but my sense is that blogging does have a role and innovative sales organizations are going to figure out how to make it work.

  6. Bob, great ideas. Blogging is great development for sales people,getting them to think, analyze, express themselves with clarity can be fantastically valuable.

    I think engagement in the social community (which need be manadatory of all sales people) though not necessarily blogging, ia another way to learn about the business issues and applications. That’s one of the great values of social media/selling to sales people—and hopefully it translates into value the sales person can create for their customers.

    I’m just looking at some “real world” examples in a couple of large organizations where sales people are not mandated but strongly suggested to blog. As I read across a number of the blogs, I see: Great inconsistency in positioning of company solutions so I am confused about what the company can do for me, in one case I’ve learned a lot about “hot cars” because a sales person as a car enthusiast and about every fourth post is something very informative about cars, but not related to the technology solutions of the company, and another dedicated to the sales lady’s passion around restaurants and cookiing.

    The last two blogs I cited are actually very well done and very interesting, but do not have anything to do with promoting the company. If we are going to insist our people blog, then we have to provide training, we have to provide guidelines, we have to manage for consistency of messaging, etc.

    I just think there are more impactful ways to engage sales people in social media and social selling.

    (Of course, I could also cite the couple of impactful blogs that demonstrate the opposite point.)

  7. Dave, you keep coming back to blogging = selling. It’s not. Or, at least it shouldn’t be, in my view.

    Statements like this…
    “Great inconsistency in positioning of company solutions”
    “not related to the technology solutions of the company”

    …suggest that you view blogging as an another way to pitch. How many of your blog posts are you selling your services? Yet, you blog all the time.

    If we’re talking about senior B2B sales reps, who are (or want to be) dealing with top executives, IMO they should be blogging about business issues, sharing examples of how companies are solving problems with tech, explaining ROI, and in general writing content that is valuable to the target audience/prospect. But not directly pitching or positioning what they sell (that info can be linked from their blogs, of course, if done appropriately).

    It’s true that many other people, not just prospects in their territory, will benefit from the their blogging. Again, I think that’s a nice problem to have, and it can be solved. Knowledge sharing is everyone’s job.

    Should all sales reps have a public business blog? Probably not. And I’m NOT suggesting that all reps be given a edict to blog and turned loose with no training. Recipe for disaster.

    Perhaps what I’m coming around to is that for “social selling” to work — whether it be done social networks, blogging or online communities — should be thought of more as a business and personal development activity, not another way to pitch solutions. It should build credibility and make it easy to have the opportunity to sell.

    You might enjoy an article I wrote a couple of years ago. I think some of the points apply to any business professional.
    Top 10 Dumb Excuses for CEOs Not to Be Leaders in the Social Web

  8. Bob, I think we are in violent agreement. Some of the struggle I am having is what I see being implemented. As I mentioned in the original post, I see too many sales people interpreting bloggging as an alternative format for “pitching,” which, as you mention, completely misses the point. I also see some people in the race to embrace social selling mandating certain things, including blogging (I have a European client that was about to launch an initiative where each professional level employee in the company would be mandated to write at least one blog post a week. There was little thought about how, why, what, or even training).

    I think we are in wild agreement on the underlying business principle and value. I certainly encourage any sales person that wants to, as a matter of personal growth, contributing to the community, etc to blog. You and I both know a number of sales people that do this very well.

    It’s kind of like my rants on customer focused/consultative selling. We’ve known the principles and reasons at least since the mid 60’s (when guys like Neil R and Mack H started writing about it. Hundreds of books and thousands of articles/blog posts (including a few of mine) continue on this topic, yet the ability of organizations to execute consistently, sustainably falls short (which gives us more ammunition about the whole listening, questioning, pitching topic).

    I think we are in violent agreement, I just worry about the execution of this as a general sales/go to market strategy).

    Thanks for hanging in there! (Great article, by the way)

  9. I believe that you are all correct. Period. You each make great points that I agree and disagree with.

    And I believe that salespeople are stretched more than ever before, expected to generate more business than ever before and have more tools to use than ever before.

    If we go by expectations and business card titles, salespeople must sell. That’s either being on the phone or in front of or along side of prospects, customers and clients as close to 100% of the time as possible. Blogging and every other non-customer activity takes away from that for all the reasons already mentioned. But even more, it is so easy to get distracted by the drama of blogging – how many people read it? Where did they come from? How many comments did it get? Who commented? Should I respond? Did anyone tweet it? Did anyone diggit? Did anyone repost it on LinkedIn? How can I get more people to read it? What should I write about tomorrow? Can I get anyone to cross promote it? Can I get another site to publish my RSS feed?

    Are you kidding me? Do we want salespeople doing that with their time? As you’ve already mentioned, we already have marketing folks who are supposed to worry about that and if we are looking to be thought leaders in our industries, certainly there is someone or multiple someones in the company with more credibility, authority, respect and writing skills than the sales force. Let those individuals who would be more appropriately positioned to Blog, do the blogging and let the sales force benefit from the company’s new found ability to be found through the blog by passing along the blog-related leads.

  10. Salespeople should blog for three simple reasons:

    1) Blogging helps organize ideas and enables salespeople to learn new ways to express themselves and to communicate effectively (as Dave Stein pointed out).
    2) When it’s valuable and insightful, blogging helps establish credibility with prospects and customers.
    3) Excellent blog writing cuts through online noise.

    Bottom line: if blogging helps a salesperson obtain outcomes that are valuable, then do more of it. I’d be the last person to suggest that it’s worthwhile to abandon an activity that’s working–so long as it’s ethical.

    But before salespeople jump into blogging with both hands and both feet (or before their managers ask them to), it’s worth noting the risks:

    1) blogging can become a black hole for time. It can be productive in context with other sales activities, but not when a salesperson spends forty-plus hours per week–except in the rarest of circumstances.
    2) blogging will backfire when it’s a gratuitous dive into a sales pitch, abusive, disrespectful of readers or prospects, or factually incorrect. Before you say “Oh, that’s not how we do it!” make sure you have written guidelines in place, your sales force knows what they are, and they’re followed and enforced.
    3) blogging will be a guaranteed exercise in frustration if blog posting is regarded as a “lead generation activity.”

    Finally, ego has no place in the decision about whether salespeople should blog. Why draw a boundary and say “that’s marketing’s job!”? Why worry about whether a salesperson might develop a following beyond his or her prospect base, and risk getting hired away by a competitor, or become better known than the VP of Marketing?

    As Bob points out, those are nice problems to have!

  11. To paraphrase the great English poet John Donne’s “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions” (I think that I can safely say that I have never previously penned a response starting with those words) “No blog is an island, entire of itself”.

    A modern-day hybrid of John Donne and the somewhat less talented William Topaz McGonagall might go on to explain “Each article is a piece of the messaging, a part of the positioning…” I’ll stop there for fear of creating permanent damage to poetry.

    Blogging, as Dave points out, is important. I’m not convinced that contributions ought to be restricted to the CEO or marketing department – but having a sales person blog is no substitute for a properly coordinated corporate communications initiative.

    But I do think that the same rules apply, whoever is doing the blogging. Blogging isn’t, and should never be, regarded as just another way of pitching. Executives often say something along the following lines to me “for as long as I’m learning, I’m listening. But the moment I feel I’m being pitched to, I turn off”.

    The best blogs share experiences, offer perspectives and stimulate the reader to think differently. They address issues that are of interest to their audience. I think that Bob’s on to something when he suggests that blogging is a way of encouraging and enabling sales people to share knowledge.

    I’m no great fan of an over-tight centrally controlled news management process. So I don’t believe that all good stuff needs to go through the corporate centre. In fact I’m convinced that you’d loose an awful lot of great insights through the leaden hand of centralised censorship.

    Perhaps the best compromise would be to invest in educating sales people about the power and potential of social media generally – not just blogging, but the effective use of LinkedIn, etc., and giving them to tools to do it well. Having an internal collaboration platform like Salesforce’s Chatter could help get them into the right frame of mind.

    Sales people could be helped to not only use social media in an effective way, but to do so in a way that reflected their employer’s values as well. In this context, I’d be in favour of sales people blogging – as long they are sharing something that (1) is relevant to the audience and (2) broadly supportive of their employer’s best interests.

    Bob Apollo | Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners

  12. If a sales person is good at writing and can do a post in 10 minutes he/she may reach many more people than trying to cold call 10 people in the same amount of time. So YES!

    If a person needs an hour to prepare it, and hour to write it and an hour to post it and has 10 readers on that blog – it maybe not such a good idea 😉 Then NO!

    Great provocation David !

  13. Clearly there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

    Writing a blog that showcases expertise and provides thoughtful commentary is a major undertaking and time commitment. But if salesperson wants to do this, I think it’s a great idea. They’ll learn a lot, develop their own voice, and expand beyond their peers.

    My 20-something daughter is doing that in her profession — on her own time and in her own name. She tells me that she’s writing the blog for the job she wants to have in three years. She’s making incredible connections with industry experts and developing a name for herself. It has already helped her land two jobs in her field.

    That being said, there’s a lot of very bad writers out there who could do more harm than good for their company. Their self-serving prattle, imbecilic comments and poor grammar could be downright embarrassing.

  14. I like Jill’s “one-size-doesn’t-fit-all” point. Here’s one more: priorities.

    Before a salesperson starts blogging, if that is really the right thing for them to do from a strategic perspective, let accomplish these things first:

    • Have a perfect LinkedIn profile, positioned for highlighting their value to their customers, and not as an online resume;
    • Gain facility in responding to questions on LinkedIn groups or other sites where experts contribute, such as this one. See what reactions their comments get–whether they are taken seriously or ignored;
    • Gain some experience in business writing–articles, for example–more than just emails and letters. Get an article or two published in an industry journal. That will help determine whether one’s writing is good enough for a credible blog, and validate the subject matter as of interest to that group; and
    • Familiarity with what other experts are writing on their blogs. Who are the players in that community, what are they saying, how are they saying it, and how will your blog be different and of value to the readers?

    Once someone has acquired those basic socia) media/writing capabilities and blogging is the right thing to do, the results will be so much more effective. It isn’t hard to tell the different among those who have done these things before they started blogging and those who haven’t.

  15. Great points all. I like Dave’s additions–it really focuses on leveraging social media/social selling. It is critical for all sales professionals to leverage social media as a means of listening, engaging–through discusssion, questions, comments, and learning.

    Participating int whatever commmunities your customers are participating in gives great insight into the issues they face, as well as those their competitors and customers face. All this makes you better as a sales person.

    Blogging becomes the icing on the cake!

  16. Blogging is great for the author, whether that be an individual or a company.

    That being said, blogging for an individual will create tremendous credibility; as an expert, as knowledgable, and to drive critical thinking. I don’t see blogging providing much value in the sales process or sales cycle.

    This is an important distinction. The sales cycle is where the sale happens, and where I believe sales people need to spend the majority of time. Decisions to focus on efforts that don’t drive specific sales cycles or influence the sales process in its entirety should take a back seat.

    Yes blog, it will strengthen the authors credibility, it will position the rep/sales person as a leader. What it won’t do is move the needle.

    Balance blogging with other strategic and macro efforts.

  17. Dave you say “Much of sales people’s communications with customers will be through social channels, but I don’t think sales people blogging is an effective channel”. So you’re very strong on the social business aspects of their job, but how to prioritize blogging? Well, in your case you give it a zero priority!

    We know that sales people will do what aligns with their compensation. If blogging helps close sales in some timeframe relative to that compensation then they will do it – and then we come to the question of training etc which has been mentioned.

    I don’t think that we’re going to see a leap forward in structural thinking or writing skills by having salespeople blog – that is I don’t see it as a training ground for their thinking. And I don’t see any great need for “consistency” and corporate overview etc. And I don’t see any problem making references to their hobbies or personal activities etc. So I’m laissez faire about the whole issue because I see it as building relationships between real people not building “channels” to move products.

    The point is about the mechanics of having salespeople blog so that it is efficient and effective. Surely that can be by having them contribute a short, say 250 words, post to a corporate blog once a week about the most interesting customer discussion, observation or solution they’ve seen that week.

    Sure, some weeks they miss. But to me the benefit is all along the lines outlined in many different ways by Bob Thompson, and I especially think the ability to reference those posts in real meetings and online is powerful.

    Walter @adamson

  18. Walter, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I tend to encourage everyone to blog if it’s something they enjoy to do personally. My only problem is some of the emerging thinking about making it mandatory.

    I tend to agree with you that as a writing skills or structured thinking developmental activity, I tend to doubt it’s value–unless there are a lot of resources to support and critique the individual.

    Thanks for the thoughtful perspective. Regards, Dave


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