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Book Review: Power Sales Writing

Book Cover

Where

I bought this book at Powell’s in Portland, OR in Oct 2018. I want to up my “sales game”.

Without a plan, it doesn’t matter which way you are going. - Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

The 4 Questions to ask before writing anything.

Below are the questions the book author created for the framework. The answers are my own, for this particular post.

  1. Why am I writing? To remember what I read about how to write clearly and to the point

  2. What do I want to say? The key takeaways that I believe are worthwhile for myself when writing

  3. What do I want to accomplish? (What is my motivation for writing?) To reference this article about sales writing when writing emails, letters, and proposals.

  4. What is the next step? Will my reader know what the next step is, and who is to take that action? To create a habit of looking at this post before, during, and after each time I write a email, email response, letter, or even when writing software requirements or documentation

The process

Here is the 3-step process outlined in the book. This framework is easy enough to remember that I, or anyone else, could remember it before writing anything.

  1. Pre-writing: the 4 questions I wrote and answered above (analytical step)

  2. Writing: just write (creative step)

  3. Revision: editing! (critical/analytical thinking)

There are 3 types of letters

  1. (Plan A) Routine responses (information) are any conversation with words that is to state information clearly and rarely requires a response

  2. (Plan B) Hostile/Sad responses. The book dedicates “Part Two”, a handful of chapters, on how to respond to irate people, or when writing a response to letters because you fucked up somehow. Think “apologies”.

  3. (Plan C) Sales letters. These have an extremely clear “call to action”

Business is fundamentally a conversation. - Fast Company, 2003

The Buffer Zone

When responding to a not-so-ideal email or letter, or writing some sort of feedback for someone: create a buffer zone (a paragraph) before you lay it on them. The short answer is to try to diffuse the situation, because we are writing and meta-communication issues can arise. Doing this step allows the hard truth to be said next.

When writing a response to bad news, or bad results, always remember to state the explanation and justification first in your response and then lay on the bad news in a nice way… and professionally.

Would you rather be happy or right? - Tom Crum

An example would be instead of telling an employee they’ve been late to work 4 times this week and it’s unacceptable (page 58), you could tell them that the core working hours are between certain times and that the team has selected these to work the best last year as a policy.

Never, ever, say “you’re sorry”

Legal reasons.

Great leaders are always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everyone can understand. - Colin Powell, Secretary of State

Write to their needs, not yours

Focus on what matters to them, not you. No one gives a shit about what you’re selling unless you’re telling them how exactly whatever it may be is going to help them. Templates for your emails and stuff work because of the quantity. Everyone is different which means a template will only make you look like an idiot and will probably get your email deleted or your letter thrown away. 1 sale could make you $10,000,000 or you can send 1,000’s of templated emails daily and hopefully get your 1% conversions and your $10,000,000 over 30 years possibly.

Build interest using words tailored to how you think they respond

Use Auditory words like “You’ll be hearing from me”. Visual words like, “This is place has the beautiful clouds and blue skys”. Kinesthetic words like, “Something you could never imagine”. Use these more.

Use Social Proof

Self explanatory, no?

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. - Voltaire

Be explicit

Stop saying “Thanks in advance” or any other bullshit around the whole “We appreciate your business and look forward to talking to you”. Instead, say “I’ll call you tomorrow, Wednesday, at 9AM EST” type situation.

Always revise

The final step of writing is emphasized: always revise and read your letter before sending it. Repeat that 3 times in your head.

This also means to use spell-check and make sure the correct word your using, is the correct word you should be using.

When writing a blog title

Cross out every other word in your title and see what you end up with. Massage it a bit and it’s more than likely more compelling than the original. Don’t say in 10 words what you can in 3.

My Review

The book is good enough. It’s a short-read and showed me a few things I did not know. It showed me a lot of what I already know that I took for granted and has brought it to my attention to pay attention to more everytime I write now.

Power Sales Writing (on Amazon)