The Poverty of Words

Some salespeople send emails that, were they to be printed on paper, are three to four pages long. Other salespeople send long emails with bullet points and links in an attempt to pitch a meeting, even though they offer no trade equal or greater to the time they request. Still others, believing that they can win a deal or an appointment through the written word alone, provide a battery of PDF documents, as if they believe their prospective client is an insomniac and their collateral the cure.

Words on a screen are not the same as words spoken. A conversation is a very different interaction than what one would write, and in complex human interactions, conversation is the written word’s superior. In email, your words are present, but you are not. The information is there, but the intention is not. Your voice isn’t being heard, and what’s missing may have more of an impact than what you wrote.

Email doesn’t allow for body language, like a smile, or leaning forward or back. Email doesn’t allow for the visual cues that tell you that what you are saying is resonating with your dream client—or not, as the case my be. When a conversation is important, the best medium is almost always face-to-face (and I am only hedging here because there are exceptions to every rule, even when one doesn’t come immediately to mind).

Email doesn’t allow for tone, or pregnant pauses, or long uncomfortable pauses. Email doesn’t allow your dream client to see you watching them speak, taking notes about what’s important to them, and following up with questions to gain a better understanding or clear up a misconception. Even the poor phone, the salesperson’s best friend, has taken a beating over the last decade at the hands of those who believe that the transformation of sales is from outbound to inbound. The truth is that a conversation with audio is better than an exchange of countless emails that don’t come close to the outcome a phone conversation would have delivered.

We sometimes expect too much of a medium, asking more of it than it is capable of returning to us. The poverty of words is that they miss so much that is being said without being said.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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