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Telltale Signs that Your Sales Team Needs Writing Help

2 min read

Trim and focus. Be specific. And align every communication with your own brand’s values. Then watch your sales force fill the nets.

Your sales force’s writing can give you a competitive edge—or undermine confidence in your product and company. To figure out how they’re doing, try this quick test: read the most recent e-mails and proposals from each member of the team.

How did that go?

Were you bored? Did you have to reread some of it? Were they confusing?

Sorry to hear that. We think there are a few likely reasons for communications misfires. Good news: they’re curable.

Diagnosis #1: “You were bored” because they were boring.

Cure #1: Trim and focus.

Help them trim fluff. Sales teams often write proposals that are too long. They include premature details like too many options or elaborate descriptions of deliverables. Prospects do not buy deliverables. They buy outcomes.

Effective proposals are like baited fishhooks. If ribbons and bows hide the worm on the hook, prospects swim away. What is the one business value the prospect is most concerned about? That’s the worm. Teach your team to emphasize the prospect’s business objectives. They must write for the reader, not for themselves.

Is the proposal more than two pages long? Why? Trim and focus.

Diagnosis #2: “You had to reread” because the proposals and e-mails got in their own way.

Cure #2: Be mercilessly concise.

Prospects lose interest fast when they cannot understand the message in one reading.

So ask your salespeople to kill the wordiness and write the way they’d speak. Ideally, they’ll pretend (or know) that English is not the prospect’s first language.

Often employees get caught up in the idea that sounding stuffy is “professional.” This is outdated thinking. The 21st century definition of “professional” business writing is “clear and conversational.”

Diagnosis #3: “They were confusing” because what they wrote didn’t align with your brand voice.

Cure #3: If the worm you are known for is quality, bait the hook with quality.

When I ran a graduate program for working adults, prospective students often asked us about a competing program with lower fees. We always replied, “Would you like their number? 1-800-UNACCREDITED.” The students were considering a program that couldn’t achieve basic standards. Their degrees would have been worthless. We were rated as “excellent” by accrediting agencies.

If our regional representatives had focused on fees or convenience or location, we would have missed the mark. Ours was the best faculty. We were known for quality. So we led with that, every time.

Tell your prospects a great story, using numbers only in a supporting role. Writing this way may be counterintuitive in a sales force that lives by numbers every month, but prospects need to hear a great story to finally chomp down on the worm.

So trim and focus. Be specific. And align every communication with your own brand’s values. Then watch your sales force fill the nets.


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