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POWER SALES WRITING
Using Communication to Turn Prospects into Clients
By SUE HERSHKOWITZ-COORE
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012Sue Hershkowitz-Coore
All rights reserved.
Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.
—A.A. MILNE, WINNIE-THE-POOH
I hate busywork. Drying dishes, for instance, is busywork. Why waste time drying dishes when the air will dry them? I could be accomplishing a million other things instead of just standing there, drying.
"Sharing ideas" at a workshop is another example of busywork that drives me nuts. When there is one right answer, don't make me waste time guessing what that answer is and discussing all the wrong ones. Just tell me the right answer and help me apply it.
Anything that doesn't help me move forward and get the job done, in my opinion, is busywork and should be eliminated. You can imagine my surprise, then, after despising being made to "outline" in school (busywork—why can't I just write the report?), when I realized that taking the time to organize my thoughts before writing (not to be confused with outlining!) would actually propel me forward and help to accomplish the job more quickly.
Here's what I learned: by taking the time to focus on your sales strategy and write your goals before you write your e-mail, you save time! "Measure twice, cut once." It applies to e-mail writing too.
By taking the time to think through what you want your e-mail to accomplish before you start writing, you can save up to 80 percent of the time you spend writing.
THE LIFE-CHANGING AND VERY COOL THREE-STEP WRITING PROCESS
The three-step process you're about to read about will change your life. Seriously. Not only will you save time (a CEO I worked with claimed that it had taken him as long as "2½ hours to get started" until he learned this process), but the e-mails you write will be more concise, more persuasive, and more likely to get read. And there's more. You'll save additional time because your prospects will understand your intent and content the first time. They'll have fewer questions for you, and those outrageously annoying time-sucking back- forth-back-forth e-mails will be eliminated. By knowing what you want to achieve and what matters to your buyer, you'll present yourself as an organized, smart sales professional, and that is, as they say, "priceless."
What are the three steps?
Planning your sales purpose before you write enables you to focus both on your sales goal (the outcome you'd like your e-mail to achieve) and the strategy to use to achieve that result. (Contrary to what many professionals think, the goal of an e-mail is rarely to close the business. Most selling messages are written to excite the buyer and earn the right to advance.) With a plan firmly in place, you write more quickly, more cleverly, and more successfully, and your clarity of purpose makes it much easier for your customer to say yes to you instead of to your competition.
PLANNING IS THE CATALYST FOR QUICK, CLEAR WRITING
Organizing before you write is the basis for clear, persuasive writing. All it takes is answering five questions. (With practice, you'll be able to do this in just a few seconds.) The questions act as a guide to help you focus on the specific outcome you'd like your e-mail to deliver, and the answers provide a clear path to successful writing and profitable selling. This planning, or "prewriting," step changes everything about the way you present your message, engage your buyer, and stand out from the crowd of competitors. Here are the five planning questions:
1. Why am I writing?
2. What do I want to say?
3. What do I want to accomplish?
4. What is the next step?
5. Have I provided a reason why this person would be delighted to do what I ask or say?
These (deceptively) simple questions will begin to transform the way you write. How?
Here is an example of a situation that screams for planning.
Situation: You're an experienced salesperson, but you're new with Company X. You need to start filling your sales funnel so that you can build business quickly. You're given a list of potential leads and know that you need to create a compelling e-mail to introduce yourself to these potential leads.
Without the prewriting step, you might create an e-mail similar to the one a workshop attendee submitted, prior to attending the training:
Greetings from sunny Scottsdale!
I'm writing to introduce myself as your new sales manager. I've recently taken over Sophie Spaniel's position, and I'm excited about working with you. My experience includes three years with a nonprofit and most recently as a national sales manager for a competitor, and I can say, I'm very glad to be here!
Our hotel has undergone an $XX million renovation in the last two years, and our ballroom space has expanded to 15,000 square feet! The spa also was enlarged, giving a total of 13,455 square feet of serenity.
I'd love to invite you to come down to see us and maybe have some lunch or a quick cup of coffee. It would be fun to meet you in person! I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Does this sound typical to you? Does it sound good? If you're wondering what is wrong with it or thinking, "That is exactly how I'd write it," your life is about to change. Just about everything is wrong with this sales message! If the writer had taken the time to thoughtfully plan her message, she would have realized that she shouldn't be writing to introduce herself, about the hotel features, or even about how much fun it would be to meet in person. We'll get to what she (and you) should be writing soon.
Planning Helps You Sell More Easily
Most salespeople are familiar with a sales goal planning process in which sales objectives are determined, then tracked and reviewed. Knowing what they need to achieve to be successful (what their sales objectives are) guides their daily activities to ensure that those sales goals can be achieved (and exceeded).
Planning your e-mail messaging works similarly. An outcome is determined (for instance, you want your e-mail to persuade your prospect to accept your phone call next Tuesday), and that outcome guides how the e-mail is written. It's simple really. Knowing the purpose of your e-mail tells you what to leave in and what to leave out. Planning gives you a target to hit and eliminates wasted time and effort.
Answering the questions takes anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes (none of which is busywork), but that time saves you time. The few seconds that you spend planning and organizing the sales strategy for your e-mail can save up to 80 percent of the time you currently spend writing (and rewriting and writing again).
Determine the sales strategy so that your e-mail will sell more, more easily.
Put Your Plan in Print
It's important that you actually type or write the answers to the five questions rather than just think them through. There are several reasons for this:
1. Interruptions happen. Imagine that you're happily typing. You've thought through your purpose, and while it's fresh in your mind, you're writing and you're in the zone. Then the phone rings. Or your counterpart walks into your office. Or your dog nudges you, reminding you that it's time for her walk. When you try to direct your attention back to the sales message you were writing, your words have stopped flowing. Getting back on track often involves frustration and a Starbucks. If you've written the answers
Excerpted from POWER SALES WRITING by SUE HERSHKOWITZ-COORE. Copyright © 2012 by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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