Excerpted from the book Social Upheaval: How to win @ Social Selling
Now, I know that many salespeople will balk at the very thought of being content creators. Many find writing difficult, if not almost impossible. The confidence many have in their oral skills evaporates the moment they are required to transfer their thoughts to the written word. Being curators seems easy in comparison to being creative and original and even comprehensible!
I’d like to challenge that thinking. First, there really isn’t much originality anywhere, ever. King Solomon, regarded by some as the wisest man who ever lived, had this to say on the subject of originality: “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And that was nearly 3,000 years ago! Of course, he also said, “be warned: the writing of many books is endless” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). That was also nearly 3,000 years ago. Who was it that said something along the lines of: We gain insight and inspiration from Shakespeare; Shakespeare got it from Plato? [The actual quote was: “We find cautionary tales about leadership in Shakespeare; he found them in Plutarch,” by Thomas Stewart, in the Harvard Business Review]. So the simple fact is: don’t worry about being original, just be honest and look to provide a different angle or new insight.
Second, as salespeople we should not underestimate our potential as content creators because we have good stories. We have good stories because we’ve run across a lot of people over the years. We’ve sold to some of them effectively. We’ve sold to some ineffectively. And we’ve not sold to some, either effectively or ineffectively. We’ve had great successes—which are sometimes interesting. We’ve had great failures—which are always interesting. Never underestimate the power of a good failure as an object lesson.
One of the great ways to create content is to tell stories. And again, as salespeople I guarantee you have a lot of them—and would bet you’re probably pretty good at telling them. Just write them down in the exact same way, and in the exact same words as you would speak them.
Perhaps the easiest, quickest and most effective way to create content, however, is to ask a provocative question to a curious and expectant audience. Having listened carefully, you are pretty in tune with what people care about, what they’re thinking about, what’s occupying them. A great way to get them interested in you, and involved in a conversation, is to ask the compelling question—or as the poet e e cummings was fond of putting it: “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”
Asking questions that will spark conversation, or debate, or even useful and constructive controversy is actually a brilliant strategy for leaping into the world of content creation. And it actually pays dividends.
So yes, salespeople, you can create content! Just try and it and see.