Many years ago, as a salesperson for a print and marketing company, I worked with a sales coach on the east coast. We did weekly one-on-one calls, as well as a group coaching call every Friday. This guy was tough on me. He didn’t yell or make me cry or anything, but he was unyielding. East-coasters have a way about them that is different than anywhere else in the country. To sum it up in one word, he was direct. I had to run a lot past him, from my elevator pitch to my sales script to even my follow-up emails. He reviewed everything and gave me critical feedback that stung sometimes, but was exactly what I needed.
First things first.
His first order of business: quit using exclamation points and smiley faces in emails. He said that it made me appear less professional and the tone was more juvenile than I am in person or on the phone. As I type thing, I can still feel the whining I did. “” and “ ” and “ “
None of those things mattered. I had my marching orders, so I set about it. For a full month, I wasn’t allowed to use exclamation points or smiley faces in any sales email, at all. It was frustrating, but I learned something.
Words have power.
When you’re in person, you can rely on tone and body language to do 90% of the communication. Over the phone, you’ve still got tone working for your benefit. Through email, though, you become much more limited and words have a way of taking on a life of their own.
Or do they?
Let me be clear: emoji and exclamation points have their place in an increasingly online world. But I was holding onto them like I was lost at sea and they were my life raft. If I was tired, I used exclamation points like periods didn’t exist. New prospect? Oh, you’re getting 3 smiley faces, because I want you to like me.
In 30 days, I managed to take control over my written communication. I managed to get very precise with my intention. I used typography to emphasize important points. I used bulleted paragraphs to increase readability. I was purposeful with my communication and guess what? It worked. Within 2 weeks I started noticing that I was getting more replies to follow up emails. When I called, prospects were taking my calls because the tone in my online communication was no-nonsense. As small business owners, most of them didn’t have the time for loosey-goosey communication. With that type of response, I had no choice but to continue.
What does it all mean?
Our communication window seems to be shorter than ever. Texts, Slack, emails, Tweets, hashtags… it all lends itself to a faster, more direct pace.
say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Instead of: Good morning!!! I’ve been trying to reach you, but you must be super busy!
I can appreciate how busy you are. Is there any way we can schedule 10 minutes to touch base about last week’s call?
- Instead of: I just wanted to follow up after our meeting last week to see if you wanted to get started with a contract!
I hope you found last week’s discussion as exciting as I did. What are your thoughts about moving forward?
I encourage you to try the 30 Day challenge for yourself! It’s a great way to bring your attention to written communication, which will allow you to make improvements, adjustments and, hopefully, new business.