When I first thought about moving into sales 25 years ago, I worked in a sales support role. When I told people I wanted to move into sales I was asked what my communication skills were like. Why, I asked? Because communication is what it is about, I was told.
Luckily I had joined a major computer company on their graduate scheme so they had taught me how to create and give presentations. After all, a key skill of a salesperson is oral communication, we have to break down, what could be a complex solution, so that a prospect can understand. My background has always been in selling accounting products, so it would be down to me to explain to IT why we had speced the hardware like it was and explain to the Finance department (the business), the implementation plan. Even working in SaaS, we still needed to explain how Cloud worked even though we would be gradually taking away the IT jobs. Complex both technical and complex in delicacy.
The role, as did the first 5 years in sales required me to sell to the Public Sector, Federal I think you call it in the US. This requires Sales people to reply to invitation to tenders (ITTs), Request for Proposals (RFPs) and various other little letter acronyms through the tender process.
Working for sales companies meant I had to write and respond to the documents myself. Working for big companies meant the contents of the document was written for me. Either way, I had to write the management summary.
The Management Summary is a critical part of any tender where you need to express the benefits of your solution as it relates to the potential customers business issues. You also need to present a business case, rather than just pricing and explain credentials, again in line with the clients requirements. I’ve been on a two day course on how to write one.
In many cases this would be the only section that the “senior” people would read. Add to the fact that you will probably be on a long list of 10, you will be “just another supplier”. Writing something that hooks the reader is a critical skill.
Moving away from tenders.
Where ever I’ve worked there has always been, or perceived to be a lack of resource to support sales. A key skill has always been to write internal emails to make sure you get the internal resource to support your deals. Most salespeople “cry wolf” and talk about how this will be the next big deal. I’ve refused to play this game, again writing compelling emails internally to get resource.
Also email to customers, following meetings, complaints, wins, all kinds of scenarios. Again, as a salesperson needed me to craft the right response. I use the word “craft” carefully as you cannot just fire from the hip, words have to be chosen carefully.
Also for those that remember the days before the internet and email, I used the “Selling to the VITO” methodology to get meetings with CFOs. The letter could take a day to “craft” before you sent it. A whole day, for one side of A4. Getting a meeting, as always with a CFO, CEO or whoever at C-Level is worth a day of investment!
For me and for everybody I know in the sales world, being able to speak and write is a critical and stalwart part of the salesperson kit bag.
Of course there are spammers who send templates, but we are better than that!
So what’s my point
Imagine the horror when I read in a recent book a quote from a “Social Selling Guru” that communication and writing for a salesperson isn’t a key skill.
In fact, I was drinking a cup of tea at the time and a spat the tea out as I read it.
This is 100% wrong. Communication in both verbal and especially written is a key skill for salespeople. Which is why we always have a session on blogging as part of our social selling transformation program.
Salespeople always lap this up and we recently had a sales leader who got 40 job response to one of his blogs. The saving alone meant he was on a positive ROI against what they paid us.
Let me explain something about blogging. Nobody looks at ads anymore, with GDPR it has killed email marketing, cold calling is now only used by the desperate. Add to that all the technology we all use, ad blockers, rules in email to send emails to junk and number blockers on our phones. Marketing departments have nowhere to go other than social and an organic approach.
People are bored with corporate marketing, it’s not that different from advertising. Everybody says how great they are, we are bored with that we ignore it. Corporate marketing, like advertising becomes noise that people ignore.
But there is some good news. Each company has something unique that nobody else has. It’s employees.
The trick is to activate and empower them, to talk, in their own tone of voice. DO NOT stuff them with boring corporate content, you are making a big mistake.
Get them talking on social and this will provide you with marketing, sales, recruitment. That is, you will switch these processes from push to pull. Leads will come to you, talent will come to you. All of a sudden you will have more marketing, more sales and more recruitment, all at less cost.
So is it important that salespeople write. You bet, it is also important that all you staff write. And please, no excuses!
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