09 Nov 5 keys to writing winning sales documents
Where are you positioned in the minds of your ideal clients? What do they think of when they think of you, your company and your products and services?
As a communication specialist, these are the questions I help my clients answer. Some feel like the best-kept secret in their industries. Perhaps you feel the same, and want to step out of the shadows and boldly claim your space.
So, if you ever find that clients and customers are going elsewhere – when you know you’re best-placed to serve them – it’s worth taking a closer look at your communication.
1) Think about what your prospects really want
Studies have shown that we adopt a ‘search and seize’ approach when looking for information online. And with the internet now so prominent in our lives, that behaviour has extended to pretty much everything we read.
So, make the assumption that you only have seven seconds to catch your readers’ attention. With such little time on your hands, it’s crucial to think deeply about what your prospects really want from your documents. In addition, ask yourself what you want your prospects to do, think, say and feel after they’ve read them. Then, keep connected with them during the writing process, by asking ‘so what?’ and ‘what does this information really mean for my prospects?’
2) Craft stories that build trust
The key pillars of trust are: credibility, feasibility, customised solutions, safety, superior quality and value. Aim to communicate these through customer testimonials and stories. When people believe that others have trusted you and benefitted from what you have to offer, it makes it easier for them to do the same.
Don’t underestimate the power of stories. As children, most of us were read bedtime stories and the entire media is geared around stories. We’re hooked on tales in every shape and form, so telling stories is a powerful sales tool.
3) Add value with a ‘partnership’ approach
Prospective customers want to feel that you’re in partnership with them. When you take a consultant / advisor approach and present yourself as an expert, it’s easier for your prospects to feel that you’re ‘sitting on the same side of the table’.
Presenting yourself as an expert is also a great way to add value. But you need to do a little groundwork first. Focus on your value by asking yourself the following questions:
- How can I ensure my knowledge is current and cutting-edge?
- What is the best way for me to communicate my expertise?
- How can I help clients understand the true value of my expertise?
4) Package your messages and use catchy titles
The old adage: it’s not what you say, but how you say it – rings true for sales. Prospects want your documents (including your titles) to address a core pain or need or to provide the outcome or transformation they’re looking for.
For example, if you’re a wine broker, writing a title that reads: ‘What your supplier is not telling you about wine prices’ is much more effective than, ‘Important information about wine prices’. The first title grabs attention and helps to position the writer as a trusted expert. Similarly, if you’re in a service-based business, you can help your prospects feel safe and at ease with you by organising your information into easy-to-understand frameworks.
Try packaging the information, advice and guidance in your sales documents intoformulas, blueprints, roadmaps, systems and steps.
5) Apply key writing techniques
Don’t just begin a document; craft an opening that asks a question, tells a story or presents a surprising or interesting statement. You could also use a quote, or share something you’ve read in a newspaper. Alternatively, you could create an analogy you think will connect with your readers.
Finally, remember that after your title, your opening is the first thing that the prospect sees, so it has to sum up your main message. This is important for all documents, whether it’s an email, a proposal or a report for an existing customer.
Even just becoming more aware of what you’re writing can make a big difference. It will make you less likely to unwittingly bore your prospects, bombard them with too many facts and figures, or fail to tap into their real needs and wants.
It’s well worth taking the time to master sales communication techniques. The calm confidence that comes with knowing how to communicate throughout the sales process, and beyond, is priceless!