Much of my time as a salesperson overlapped with my education as an English major. During this time, as my skills in communication improved, I discovered the importance and the difficulties of communication in the sales process.
From the salesperson’s perspective, I am often amazed at the limited ability customers seem to have with communicating their needs. On the other hand, I am also amazed at the lack of inquiry and details my coworkers provided to customers. Often times I come to the rescue of my coworkers when I overheard a potentially disastrous conversation.
The communication breakdown almost always occurs when the customer and the salesperson fail to see things from the other’s perspective. The customer assumes the salesperson is already aware for what is being asked, and the salesperson assumes that a wealth of product knowledge is shared with the customer. The result is almost always frustration and failure. However, on the rare occasion when the two parties assume nothing and see things from the other’s perspective, the result is almost always a success.
The difficulty of communication between the customer and salesperson is similar between writer and reader. When composing a paper, a writer cannot make the same assumptions similar to that of the frustrated customer and salesperson. Unless the intended audience is informed, the writer must avoid speculating that the reader is already aware of the subject and that the reader possesses any subject knowledge. In short, the writer must deeply consider the reader’s perspective and play an active role in considering his or her audience.
Consider my latest endeavor as a salesperson of raw building materials to contractors and do-it-yourselfers. If I were to write an informative pamphlet for contractors on necessary information when requesting a quote on a roof truss systems, then I could assume some general information is shared. However, if I were to write a pamphlet on the same topic for the do-it-yourselfer, then I would assume no shared information.
However, writing from a reader’s perspective involves more than a consideration of an audience. Detailed and exact language is also necessary. It is important that a writer develops concise and informative prose. This is important for many types of writing, be it descriptive or informative essays, resumes, or lab reports.
As one becomes more successful with this style of writing, which comes almost entirely from practice and education, the skill of communicating effectively can be applied to any form of communication.
As we learn to consider our audience through writing, we learn the skill to communicate effectively, and skillful communication is a huge part of any success.