Watch CBSN Live

Sales Message: Keep It Short and Simple

As a service to regular Sales Machine readers, I sometimes help them rewrite their sales messages. I received this email last week, which illustrates some common errors that keep coming up, when it comes to communicating a coherent idea to prospects and customers:

Hi Geoffrey,

I have been in sales for about 10 years. I always struggle with an effective sales message. I have recently been hired by a new IT company and decided that I would take the sales message more seriously. I read your post on sales message and decided to use it as a guideline for my own message.

I am wondering, if I ask quite nicely, if you could look at what I came up with and let me know your thoughts. Version #1 is our original message and Version #2 is my attempt at coming up with a more compelling message:

  • Version #1: "At ACME, we are an online IT consulting group that help you promote your business and create a virtual office where you can easily online without any huge investment."
  • Version #2: "ACME provides customizable and simple online solutions that would allow you to better manage your business and stay close to your clients. Our service is entirely online, so that you have the freedom to access the information anytime you want. With our easy and customizable service, our clients can focus on the most important things in life and make the best decisions for their business."
Thanks a lot. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Well, they're both pretty awful, I'm afraid.

The original message is almost content-free and the reference to a "huge investment" suggests that the investment must still be pretty hefty. I'd say that the original probably scares away more prospects than it enlightens.

The rewritten message isn't much better. It's full of abstractions and empty promises. And it uses a lot of words to say very little. Let's see if we can do better:

I recommend splitting sales messages into two parts: a hook and a differentiator. The hook provides a reason for the prospect to be interested and the differentiator explains why you're unique enough for the prospect to follow up with you.

Here's the hook that I think will work:

  • Hook: "With ACME, you can run your business from anywhere, because everything you need to track clients and employees is available online."
It's short and simple, explains what your offering does, and encapsulates the benefit. Then, if the prospect shows interest you follow with:
  • Differentiator: "ACME can be customized to match whatever business processes you have in place, which is why our clients range from [recognizable company] to [recognizable company in a completely different industry].
What if you you don't have big name client names to drop? Easy. You substitute two very different types of businesses that ARE in your client base. In either case, you must be sure to have them set up as reference accounts, or case studies to back up the assertion.

But the main point here is that you use use simple words, simple facts, and simple structure to communicate a simple message... in as few words as possible.

READERS: Feel free to send me more messages. I can't guarantee that I'll rewrite them all, but at least I'll read them and give you my opinion.


View CBS News In