The late, great George Carlin was one of my favorite comedians. Carlin died last year at age 71. At least for me, no comic before or since has combined intelligence, facility with language and offbeat insight into humanity’s flaws and foibles with quite his flair.
According to Wikipedia, Carlin was a five-time Grammy winner, the first person to host Saturday Night Live, and is ranked second, behind Richard Pryor, on Comedy Central’s list of all-time list comic greats.
So what does Carlin have to do with creating and delivering communications to support your sales force?
Words to the Wise
Noteworthy in Carlin’s legacy is a routine he crafted around “Seven Dirty Words.” The routine became central to a U.S. Supreme Court case in which, by the slimmest of margins, the court upheld government’s right to regulate “indecent” material broadcast over public airwaves.
Now, to be clear, I don’t plan to restate Carlin’s seven words here. And using rough language routinely is not likely to get your sales force far.
But it strikes me there’s a string of seven words that, if able to be stated by more sales reps, would unlock fresh opportunities to be nimble and strategic in how they approach and communicate with customers.
These same seven words would allow marketing communicators to be more immediate, efficient and versatile in how they deliver content to sales — and ultimately to buyers and specifiers.
And, unlike Carlin’s seven, which you could argue are in fairly common use, these seven are considerably underutilized in day-to-day selling.
So, what are these seven magical sales-support words?
Let me show you on the Internet.
Acceptable variants would be “Let me show you what I mean,” or “Let me show you how it works,” with the Web as an eventual destination implied.
If the conversation were happening by phone, the seven words might be, “Have you got Internet access right now?” If a rep bumped into someone in a hallway or lobby, the seven words might be: “Can we go back to your desk?”
So it’s not really about seven specific words, but more to the underlying point:
The Web, surprisingly, is still a relatively untapped resource in how most organizations deliver sales support.
The Net-Net of Effective Sales Support
Think about how much time, effort and resources go into getting reps equipped to deliver an effective, consistent message and presentation. The printed brochures, sell sheets and collateral systems. The PowerPoints. The lugging along of projectors, samples, flip charts and display boards.
Now ask yourself how much more empowering it would be if a rep, after an initial conversation, could simply go to any Internet-connected computer and explore — in a way tailored to the particular client — a treasure trove of customer-facing content. Information. Case studies. Research. Visualization tools. Calculators. And more.
Is this an argument for keeping your corporate Web site in a perpetual state of brochureware?
No. It’s about making relevant, value-adding, even inspirational content readily accessible online — either within a special section of your Web site, or on a separate, dedicated microsite.
Do that, with the right content, and no joke: You’ll notice customers and prospects smiling. And you’ll see more sales reps, more often, laughing all the way to the bank.