Writing for Sales

Sales Writing like Mark Twain might haveMost sales writing is crappy. It shouldn’t be but it is.

Any written communication to customers during the sales cycle such as emails, letters, proposals, presentations are forms of sales writing. And almost every instance one finds is terrible.

The cause of this train wreck is simple — it’s made by confusing marketing with sales.

Writing for marketing is colossally different than for sales. Here’s why: marketing shouts to an anonymous audience, while sales talks to a specific customer. Salespeople either believe there’s no difference between the two, or lack a model for sales writing.

And since the Pulitzer Price is safe from me, I’m happy to share my idiotically simple approach. Here it is.


“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

Thinking is hard work, which is why so few salespeople do it when writing. Much easier to steal marketing-ese and write generalities without saying anything to a specific customer. Fight that urge. Do research. Make it personal.

Mark Twain gave lectures and public readings of his writings when he needed to climb out of financial debt. I like to believe that when he wrote his books it was with the expectation that he would someday read them in front of a paying audience.

Take that same approach to sales writing. Write it with the intention that you’ll be standing in front of your customers reading what you have written.


“Writing forces thought into a vehicle that takes readers where the writer wants them to go.” – Chris Arlen (I like quoting myself)

The cliched salesperson is personable, extroverted, and with lots to say but that doesn’t cut it when writing. Sales writing requires giving yourself the time, removing distractions, and applying bum glue to stay seated until finished.

And the more frequently you write with intention, and fearless editing, the easier it becomes. Start small, work often, tackle the big stuff in bites.


“The real problem in speech is not precise language. The problem is clear language. The desire is to have the idea clearly communicated to the other person.” — Richard Feynman, American physicist, 1918 – 1988

Before sending off your sales writing for publication to customers; vet it. Read it out loud. Then honestly ask yourself:

  • Are you embarrassed ?
  • Sound like a stranger talking?
  • Would your customer take action on hearing it?

If your answers to any of the above are iffy; go back to the revising board and rework your writing. This is your BS test.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Richard Feynman, American physicist, 1918 – 1988
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