Salespeople Can’t Write, Right?

Well, let’s just say that generally, they (and I) lack editing skills —- especially if you read the recent post:

Okay, I will not call out folks, but let’s just say it was really hard to read (even though the context was spot on!)

As a technology sales guy over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed that we are not great writers or editors. We are a 100+ mile an hour breed that wants to make things happen. We can and do have great ideas; we (should) understand the true voice of the customer, but sharing those ideas in writing is difficult.

Then shouldn’t we leave the writing stuff to marketing?

No.

Marketing is there to provide air cover, think 30K feet. They very expertly push out global messages and publish content that our customers recognize as the voice of the company. Meanwhile, salespeople spend their time in the trenches with the customers and their challenges. We hear the customer’s needs and wants simply by engaging in the sales process. We need marketing, but we also need to be found by our customers.

Bottom line: salespeople not only can write, they need to write to be relevant to their customers. Let me explain why.

Decades ago we got the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times and looked for news about our customers. We’d see something interesting about how GE is starting up a new division and from there, we’d reach out to them and hopefully get new business.

It’s no different from today except that information is coming at us and our customers from every angle. It’s content overload. If we read something today in the WSJ about our customer, the opportunity has probably passed us by. Everything moves so quickly now and customers are making decisions without us.

  • “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” (CEB)
  • “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)

So how do we become part of the conversation early enough so that we don’t miss the window of opportunity? How do we meet our competitors at the table (let alone beat them in a deal cycle)?

Salespeople Need to Tell Their Stories

The trust between customers and salespeople has been broken. We need to rebuild it. We do this by providing value before we ever connect with our customers. Meanwhile, our customers are searching for information without us and we need to have our stories out there to represent us and our companies.

Here’s how:

  1. Get their attention – use Twitter, LinkedIn, write your own blog, create vlogs, whichever format works for you. Publish content and engage with others (customers, thought leaders in your field, etc.). Engage means COMMENT or RETWEET or SHARE and MENTION someone. Start a dialogue.
  2. Be patient – this isn’t a “once and done” activity or a short term strategy. It’s a journey. I’ve published articles and only gotten 2 likes. We’re instant gratification people and we resent that no sales leads came from our first, second or third efforts. But my customer may see that article a year from now and start to develop an opinion of me that will help me down the road. My contacts may see that article or the next or the next and feel confident in introducing me to a key contact at a customer. Patience, people.
  3. Get people to engage with you, which means GOOD content – But we already said salespeople can’t write??? I’m confused. Salespeople can write, they just need help editing. That’s what I do. I work with my go-to-market team and global marketing to take what I can offer and help tighten it up (or as my editor of the day has said, “clean this s$#* up.”

There has been a lot of conversation lately about the line between marketing and sales. These worlds are colliding and the lines will continue to be blurred. What are you seeing in the market and what are your thoughts around sales “participating” in the content game with marketing? Please comment below!

Thank you to Kathryn Bassman for collaborating with me on this post as an expert editor!

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