Align Sales & Marketing by Killing Bad Writing

In the last week, my colleagues have covered the importance of defining lead statuses and mapping the buyer journey in sales-marketing alignment. Why should you care? For one, sales and marketing alignment adds 25% to quota achievement and results in a 15% win rate, figures from Salesforce show. To these significant reasons to harmonize your sales and marketing, I’d add another, underrated one: Your writing is probably horrible.


Hey, that’s not fair, the marketer is taking cheap shots at salespeople, you’re thinking. This would be true if I were the one saying it. I’m not: It’s Fathom’s Chief Revenue Officer, Jeff Leo Herrmann.

A man with an extensive sales background frequently and loudly proclaims that salespeople are horrible writers. What does this tell us?

Chiefly, that marketing can contribute to the sales process by giving salespeople constructive editorial feedback on scripts, presentations and even legal documents. Marketers can produce both excellent content and summary descriptions of that content for use in sales communications. If I were a sales warrior with any doubt about my writing/communication skills, I would be asking my marketing colleagues and any other writers in the organization for input constantly. (Trust me, most marketing people are flattered that anybody cares about their opinion.) You might get some good feedback and strengthen your relationship at the same time, which is a win-win for everybody, right?

Again, don’t take my sales-outsider word for it. Consider renowned sales coach Jill Konrath’s thoughts about the importance of words for sales professionals in the creation of her recently redesigned website. Or master sales trainer Tom Hodges, who encourages sales champions to write 5-10 thank-you notes a day and ridicules the old “marketing doesn’t provide me anything useful” excuse in his bestselling How To Master the Art of Selling.

You don’t even have to be in the sales-marketing game to know bad writing hurts sales. Take it from linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, who argues there’s a real cost to bad writing (citing legal regulations, government communications and academia as examples). The principle also applies to the sales world. And professional salespeople should hate nothing more than wasting their time/money. Think of all the prospects who might still consider doing business with you if the initial outbound email was a warm, brief, helpful note instead of a rambling 200-word essay about your company’s world-class offerings.

To summarize: Marketers, make life easier on your sales peers by giving them exceptional collateral, talking points and scripts (or at least the willingness to critique existing scripts). Sales professionals, take your game to the next level by 1.) striving to write better and 2.) actually sharing valuable (and presumably well written) marketing materials with buyers at appropriate stages through the process. Finally, send thank-you notes. Lots of them.


For a practical exercise in creating sales and marketing alignment, attend the Fathom lunch n’ learn at Content Marketing World tomorrow (September 9) at 12:30 in Cleveland, Ohio: “Helping Your B2B Sales Team Thrive in the Age of Content Marketing.”

Looking forward to seeing you there!


Photo courtesy of timquijano via Flickr.

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