I Think You’re Wrong, Dave

By May 19, 2010E-Rep

“I’m always asked the question, should sales people be writing blogs?  My answer is, ‘It depends—but probably not.’” Dave Brock in What Should Salespeople Be Doing With Social Media

Let me first state and be perfectly clear that I really respect Dave Brock’s opinions.  I read every post at his Partners in EXCELLENCE blog.  He’s in the blogroll here.  (Scroll down the right column and see for yourself.)  I recommend reading his writings on a regular basis to my customers, colleagues and prospects.  I do so because he has good ideas and makes you think.  That said…

Dave, you’re wrong, wrong, WRONG on this one.

Decision makers and key influencers at strategically important customers  don’t have enough time to meet, talk and adequately understand all you have to offer.  Even if they want to, they don’t have enough time.  The strategy of face-to-face sales calls supplemented by e-mail and phone contact, while necessary, is not sufficient.  A blog communicates your message 24 X 7 X 365.  Audio and video add punch to your message.  Key contacts will read/watch your blog posts in snippets, here and there, in fits and starts, at weird times of the day/night/week/ month, but they will read/watch!  Especially if you prompt them with the occasional “thought this would be of interest” e-mails with a link to your relevant content.  (Or maybe you’d prefer they read/watched the blog posts of your competitors?)

A side bonus is that prospects you haven’t even identified yet are reading/watching your content as well.  In other words, a bunch of potential future customers are doing all the work to develop a relationship with you!  How cool is that?

Another perspective from Dave:  “I also don’t believe most sales people are trained to be able to do this as effectively as others in the organization.”  Well, he’s right, but so what?  How many inadequately trained sales reps are making face-to-face calls every day?  Certainly it’s not ideal, but pragmatic necessity dictates that on the job training – actually making sales calls – is far and away the number one method.  The identical pragmatic necessity dictates that sales reps learn how to deploy their personal E-Reps, anchored by their personal blog, the same way.

The sales generating power of the E-Rep is way too compelling to ignore.  No, we’re not ready.  Not even close.  Those who wait till they’re ready though, will get their clocks cleaned by those who dive in.

What do you think?  Who’s right on this one?  Me or Dave or bit of us both?

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Todd Schnick says:

    I agree Todd.

    I used to say that blogging wasn’t for everyone.

    I was young and foolish. I don’t think there is businessperson out there who won’t benefit from blogging.

    It is an easy way to demonstrate expertise, and to be found 24/7 by those looking to buy…

    • Todd,

      Your observation is as excellent as your mother’s choice of name for her baby boy!

      What about the training thing though? Most sales reps (most business people for that matter) are really, really bad writers. Some very bright folks come across as dolts in writing. How do we/they fix that?

      TY

  • Scott Wothe says:

    Hi Todd,
    Long time, no see!
    You’re right about the sales guys being really bad writers. Then again, just about everyone in business leaves a lot to be desired in their written communication. That all makes this argument about blogging even murkier. I can tell you that personally, if I read a blog (or email, or website) that isn’t darn near perfect, I quickly discount the message and the person who created the message. I think the careless sales blogger, or worse yet, the sales blogger who thinks he’s a star writer but isn’t, is really risking a lot; maybe out of naivete or maybe just pride.
    As for training, I think that pride thing gets in the way; particularly with sales folks (I think you’re a bit of an anomaly in that field!). I just have a hard time picturing some training that would be effective. If the individual made it through high school without learning how to make a complete sentence, much less agreeing tenses or a fluid progression of a thought, it’s going to take a heck of a training program to get them up to snuff.
    Maybe your clients could hire me to write for them; I am looking for work these days!
    Next time you’re in Minneapolis, look me up…
    Scott

    • Scott,

      I agree with you regarding the dismal state of writing skills in the business world. Does that mean throw up you hands and surrender? I don’t think so… To me it means recognize a weakness and do something about it!

      Drinks on me next time I get to MN!

      Todd

  • Scott Wothe says:

    PS – I’m reading the heading of this post in the voice of HAL 9000.
    Nice touch…

  • Todd Schnick says:

    There are no rules on this…what medium works best for them?

    1. long posts?
    2. short posts?
    3. audio content/podcasts?
    4. video-based content?
    5. testimonials?
    6. customer interviews?
    6.5. prospect interviews?
    7. guest posts?
    8. sharing other’s writing and adding commentary?
    9. some interesting combination of the above?

    …to name a few ideas.

    Oh, and this stuff doesn’t have to win Pulitzers…it just has to be real. And helpful…

  • Good stuff, Todd. Your last line is particularly important. – TY

  • Dave Brock says:

    Thanks for picking a fight Todd. All the issues regarding helping people become “better writers” can be resolved. I think they mask several important issues.

    1. Consistency and quality of messaging/positioning. I think there is a real danger of confusing the market by having sales people actively blogging.

    2. Specificity of focus. The sales professional’s job is to focus on specific customer problem/needs/opportunities, customizing the company value proposition to meeting the customer where they are at. Is blogging–to the world–the place to do this, or is it a diversion. Given a choice of connecting with the world and connecting with their customer, I would opt for the latter. Even in prospecting, I want the sales person to be addressing specific issues they know to be potentially relevant to the customer. I don’t believe the blog world is the most effective area to do this.

    3. Time/priority. No sales person that I know has a lot of spare time on their hands. If they do, I would tend to want them to be focusing on identifying specific opportunities. Crassly speaking, blogging is a form of direct marketing, albeit, written/executed in a manner that possibly makes the impact higher. Do I want sales people designing/executing direct marketing campaigns? Absolutely not.

    Overtime, I may change my opinion. I do believe sales people have to be participating in the social media world, listening, learning, acting, even commenting on blogs. I just don’t think blogging offers a lot of leverage for sales people, though it is critical for their companies.

    Regards, Dave

Leave a Reply