Salespeople Should Write Better

Selling has always required strong communication skills. Meetings, sales calls, and presentations all test a sales reps ability to use their spoken words skillfully.

In modern selling however, the written word represents the majority of communication throughout the sales process.

Emails exchanged during the typical sales cycle dwarf verbal interaction on a volume basis. The trend towards social selling will only increase the need for effective written communication.

It is easy to forget that written communications can be shared with many during the buying – including individuals you never speak to. And unlike words from our mouth, written communication persists. That is, our emails never go away.

Given the importance of written communication, it is surprising how little time and effort is invested into ensuring sales people possess strong written communication skills.

Over the past six months, I have spent a significant amount of time working with my team on their written communication and the payoff has been significant.

This is the first in a series of four articles I hope will convey insights that have helped my team step up their game.

Download My Sales Email Template Pack HERE

First, let me describe the elements of effective written communication.

Clarity & Simplicity – Written communication is, by default, interruptive. That is to say it shows up and is consumed between other activities. As such, it is subject to a ‘task-switching’ overhead where the reader must shift their attention from what they were doing. To maximize effectiveness, I suggest written communication must be simple and clear…sometimes painfully so. Avoid big words and jargon at all costs. Ask yourself: Would someone from outside your industry be able to understand the message you are trying to convey?

Brevity – In all forms of communication, shorter is ALWAYS better. This is particularly true with writing. Extra words and paragraphs detract from the core message we are trying to convey. Succinct messages have a better chance of being read in their entirety.

Actionable – Every written communication (and email in particular) needs to have a strong purpose and that purpose should be to attain some set of specific objectives. Think: Close a deal, Schedule a meeting, Agree on what was said in a meeting, etc. The first question I ask when editing an email is: What specific outcomes do wish to achieve by delivering this?

Structure (readability) – Our eyes and brains are conditioned for bite-size pieces of information NOT rambling paragraphs. Notice how this article is setup. Sentences and thoughts are separated by line breaks and space.

Timely – This should be obvious but when an email shows up matters. You need to set aside time for recap emails and thank you notes everyday to avoid the trap of catching up on the weekend.

Accuracy – This too should seem obvious but spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes undermine your credibility or distract from you message.

Value – The question you must ask before hitting the send is simple: What value does this communication add value for my reader? If you are writing an email purely for your own benefit, hit the delete button instead.

Follow me and stay tuned for part two: How to Write Better – Whether or Not you Already Write Well

Download My Sales Email Template Pack HERE

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