HALF of adults in America judge people’s intelligence based on email content and format, reports GMX, a free email service for more than 11 million active users in survey research just released today.
Of the 1,002 US Adults surveyed who use e-mail for both work and personal reasons, 58 percent of Americans admitted they judge intelligence based on the writing style, tone and language used in email. You can bet they make the same sorts of judgments when you (or your people) send “tweets“, email newsletters, respond on blogs, chat on Facebook or comment in group discussions.
Words – what we say and how we say them – have always been an important factor in our ability to connect with others…or not. And in this new conversation economy your sales people must be acutely aware of what impression they create when communicating online. When contributing to the dialog in social networking communities, careful thought must be given to the words that are penned to the virtual paper. If you aren’t paying attention to what your people are saying – you put your brand at risk!
Here are 5 tips to improve how your sales people communicate online:
* Tell don’t sell. Storytelling is a way to create a picture in the mind of your buyer that will lead them to want to know more. In conversations avoid using common catch phrases that everyone else uses too. Who doesn’t think that their product or service is amazing, revolutionary, transformative, results oriented or cutting edge? Be more creative. For example, if your buyer plays tennis, you might say something like “when you work with us, we help you hit ace serves every single time.”
* Speak your buyer’s language. Sales people are often caught up in using jargon that makes sense to them and to their co-workers, but can completely turn off a potential buyer. This is about connecting with your next client, so drop the industry buzz words and get to know and use “their business language” not yours.
* Add value to the conversation. Demonstrate expertise by “adding more” to the conversation. Perhaps add a unique twist to how you would approach the situation being discussed. Resist the temptation to “talk about yourself and what you sell”. For several weeks, I’ve observed a Sales VP in one of my LinkedIn groups who just doesn’t understand this at all. In every question he poses and every question he answers, he talks about how great his company and their products are. He’s says he’s passionate, I think he’s arrogant and crushing his brand.
* Be transparent. In the online world (I would suggest in business in general), transparency is key. Although a lot of people use the word, I’m not sure they actually know what it means. Be crystal clear about your intentions, your affiliations and disclose anything that might be perceived as a bias on your part – up front. Way up front! For example, if you push a particular service and you earn an affiliate commission – say so. If you are trying to broker a partner deal then be honest about pushing them as a speaker at that next event you happen to chair. We figure it out anyway and you look bad for not disclosing your intentions ahead of time!
* Establish writing guidelines. It is very important that your sales folks get engaged in online conversations, and it is a wise idea to put some communication guidelines in place. Make sure you set expectations about what is acceptable when they are representing your company! Good rules of thumb are: leave your agenda at the door, manage your tone, be respectful, add value and be transparent when answering questions.
By the way, putting this topic front and center is a bit of a risk for me given you are judging my IQ at this very moment. Let’s hope I make the cut:)