Secrets from a Top Sales Exec
by Barbara Florio Graham

John Saltus, retired sales manager for such companies as G.E., Wells Fargo, and Bank of America,
suggests writers follow proven techniques used by top salespeople. 

1. Pay attention. Successful salespeople listen carefully to potential customers. What do they want and why? Writers need to do the same. Read the magazine; study the guidelines; analyze the ads.

2. Follow the trends. What kinds of magazines are rising in popularity? Who are current ad campaigns targeting? Check TV and other media as well as magazines, as trends are often linked. Key your pitch accordingly.

3. Put your best foot forward. Saltus compares your initial message to an editor to the well-dressed, smiling salesman on the floor. The most polished approach is by postal mail, using professional letterhead, a well-crafted query letter, and one or two of your best clips. Many editors don't open e-mail from strangers, and don't appreciate phone calls that interrupt their busy days.

4. Use the proven five-part sales formula in your query letter. Saltus describes this as ATTENTION, INTEREST,  CONVICTION, DESIRE, CLOSE.

Grab the editor's attention with a catchy lead. Spur interest with your slant on the story, and convince the editor why you're the one who can produce the best article. on this subject. Create a desire (why the readers of this publication will want to have this information) and close with a request, asking how many words, in what format, and the deadline. 

5. Follow up. Give the editor two weeks to reply to your query, and if you don't hear anything by then, send an e-mail. It still isn't wise to phone, but you could call ahead of time to let the receptionist know an e-mail is coming. You need to close the sale, and not give up until you receive a definite answer.

Saltus told me about several incidents when he returned after being turned down the first time, and made a sale on his second try. Don't forget to return to magazines that may have rejected you initially. If there's a change in the editorial line-up, the new editor may welcome your query.  Even the same editor may reconsider if the topic you're proposing seems more relevant in light of recent trends or events.

6. Saltus suggests that if you're planning a larger project, a book, for example, or a marketing plan targeting better-paying publications, you should take a small spiral notebook and divide it into five sections: Attention, Interest, Conviction, Desire, and Close.

Then think of all the words that could be used to describe your idea. Which words will grab attention? Which will generate interest? Which will lead the reader to conviction and then desire? Which words define your ending?

Use this notebook to brainstorm and then read through each section carefully to outline your project. This technique works not only for selling it but also for writing it.

This article appeared in Freelance Writer's Report. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

BACK to list of links