Make the Juice Worth The Squeeze!
By Dr. Julie Miller
of selling often conjures up images of a used-car salesperson in a
shiny suit, slicked back hair pumping your hand with an overly eager
smile. That image may loop continuously through your mind when asked
to present to the senior team. “But,” you say, “I’m not into
selling, that’s why I took this job!” Au contraire,
today all occupations require some form of selling. Whether it is a
promotion, an idea, a process, or a product - you are
this scenario. Your company is considering “streamlining” your
department. Translated: Some folks must leave. Management tasks you
with presenting ideas on how to address this issue. Or does this one
sound familiar? The senior team wants the 30,000-foot view of your
current project along with recommendations and a timeline for the
do? Answer: Persuade, convince and guide them towards the desired
action you want. In other words, sell to them. As you create
a sales letter, deliver a PowerPoint deck or send an e-mail, these
tips can help you think through the best approach for your desired
The Reader Reigns Supreme. If ever there is a time to get into
the readers’ head, it occurs when you need to convince them to your
point of view. Perhaps you are garnering support for your cause and
trying to get the gang on board. Or, you are writing an RFP
explaining why you deserve the contract. Maybe you need to write
sales copy for your product or service. In each of these instances,
the reader reigns supreme.
reader’s position in the company will determine your approach and
your word choice. For senior management types, keep technical
language to a minimum and emphasize market potential of the product
or service. Include different approaches as well as costs and
results. Alternatively, when presenting to those outside your field,
simple, short explanations along with concrete examples seem to go
over well. Stories and anecdotes also work. Try to avoid too much
theory as eyes begin to glaze over.
Everyone Wins. Rather than the old win-lose sales paradigm,
construct your topic around the idea that both sides win, thus
leading to mutually rewarding results. Using the scenario example
above, if you can sell to the team that eliminating jobs is not the
answer, but rather building a plan for increased efficiencies will
gain more market share, they will sit up and listen. Both sides win.
Your team keeps their jobs; the company makes more money.
It’s All About Perception. You have heard it before - benefits
sell, not features. However, benefits alone remain meaningless
unless they appeal to the reader. It is how they perceive the value.
Ask yourself: What will my reader/audience gain by approving my
idea, buying our product or signing up for our services? What direct
value will they realize? What they gain must outweigh any costs,
considerations, “yes, buts,” or “howevers.”
word choice should focus on creating benefits your reader values.
Guide your reader to conclude that what you are presenting or
offering is worth the time, the money and the resources to make it
happen. For example, when you write, “I am sending this e-mail
because our department needs new computers,” you will probably not
get the desired result you want. However, by focusing on the
perceived benefits and writing, “If you purchase new computers, our
department projects double the productivity,” you will see
heightened interest and heads nodding in agreement! Of course,
support and data are important to make your case.
Don’t Dance with Me. Overworking a topic will gain you few
friends. Quickly tell your reader what is in it for them. Help them
understand why it is fair and equally beneficial. Then, guide them
to their own conclusion. As a rule of thumb, if you are pitching
your idea/product using a PowerPoint deck, dedicate no more than
seven minutes to your topic. In an e-mail, 300 words remains the
Sharp and Shiny Sentences Sing. If you think you work at warp
speed, remember so do your readers! Wordy, disorganized, vague, or
slow-to-get-to-the-point documents gain few allies. Writing crisply
will make your message stand out. That means no wasted words. Pay
attention to over usage of these words: of, which and that. Too many
weakens your writing. If your readers have to wade through worn and
weary sentences filled with jargon and acronyms, you ask too much.
If they have to reread your writing to make sense of it, you are on
thin ice. If they work too hard to read those long, drawn-out
sentences, they will quit.
Style Counts! Here is a simple strategy you can use to
immediately create more interest and style in your writing. Vary
your sentence structure. With 39 different ways to construct a
sentence, you have no excuse for falling into the old
subject-verb-object trap. By varying the pattern of your sentences,
you keep your readers alert. You don’t want your writing sounding
like the messages on an ATM. For example, this standard style has a
familiar ring: The third quarter profits exceeded expectations.
However, if you make the sentence into a question: How much did the
third-quarter profits exceed expectations? Or use a quotation: The
chairman of the board gleefully announced, “The third-quarter
profits exceeded my expectations!” you would move towards more
interesting, more robust writing.
these tips to sell and sell well, you will start noticing some
exciting changes in your writing. Just imagine getting that
promotion, making that sale, having your project approved, and
funded! So, to coin an old phrase, the pen is mightier than the
sword and you are now armed and dangerous!
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