Building Strong Relationships through Clear Writing
Many prospective clients have told me recently about their sizeable investments in training their sales forces. One new technique involves using social media. Organizations have spent significant money and time—sometimes more than a year in advance—planning, preparing, and training their teams to use social media to reach prospects in new, more meaningful ways. The whole idea is to beat the competition by linking to prospects faster through common ground.
However, what if the core problem with closing business is the sales team’s writing skills?
When quotas aren’t met, the executive team often assumes the speaking skills of the sales people aren’t up to par. But what if the core problem is their writing skills? Sales forces can use their newfound techniques to network through social media, making connections left and right. However, once they’ve made that connection, clear writing—the real differentiator—will help them turn that new connection into a closed sale.
Here are a few pieces of advice to help you keep that door open once you’ve forged a connection
1. It’s what your reader needs that counts
Your messages should always answer the reader’s #1 question: “What’s in it for me?” Stress the features, benefits, and results that are important to your customer’s needs, not just the ones you usually tout the most or make you look the best. As much as possible, be sure to use the “You” attitude by keeping writing focused on your reader instead of “I,” “We,” or your company name.
Instead of “We can help you increase sales productivity,” try, “You want to increase your sales productivity. Here are some strategies you can use.”
2. Write an opening with impact
Our last blog entry focused on compelling subject lines to break through e-mail bankruptcy. Strategic, specific subject lines can be the difference between a prospect opening your message or deleting it. Customer-focused messages, especially in social media platforms such as LinkedIn, must have a strong opening. They get your message across right away. Make sure your key message, or “bottom line,” is in your subject line or message opening.
As a subject line, “Sales strategies for XYZ corporation” clearly tells your reader what your message will be about. However, it’s not specific or customer-focused. “How you can increase your sales” is much more compelling.
3. Use headlines to move your message—and the sale—forward.
Whether you’re writing a full-length sales letter or a quick LinkedIn message, compelling headlines will make your key points obvious and easy to read. Action words and positive language will transform your message from a pitch or meeting request into a solution that will really help your prospect.
Instead of headlining an “about us” paragraph with “About [the company],” try “How other software firms like yours have increased sales and productivity.”
4. Move the reader toward your goal
While it’s critical to craft your sales message with care and ensure you’re speaking to your prospect’s needs, at the end of the day, your message is trying to do just that—sell. Ask for your meeting or requested action using headlines like “Suggested next step” or “Action requested.” If you don’t ask for a meeting, you certainly won’t get one.
Great written communications are paramount to helping you grow a social media connection
It’s important to help employees learn to use new tools such as social media to make connections. However, networking is only the first step; you need excellent written communications skills to increase sales. Try these tips the next time you send a message to a prospective client, and let us know how it goes!