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Selling Writing as Part of “Soft Skills” Training

You may be able to sell writing training
A Guest Article by Barbara Davis

Soft skills get short shrift.  Aside from being a tongue-twister, it’s also an unfortunate reality in the corporate environment.  So how do you approach the corporate training department with your services to teach business writing, or better yet, be a personal communications coach to key employees?

Sure, we love great writing.  We think that being able to write beautifully nuanced  sentences and clearly articulate our thoughts on paper (or on the screen) should be an automatic desire, as natural as breathing.  But it isn’t for most people; many in corporations can barely put together a clear, lucid sentence or paragraph.

The sad fact is, however, that companies often concentrate on the “hard” job skills and managers often don’t make room in their training budgets for such “non-essential” job skills as decent writing.

Selling Writing Courses to Training Departments

When we approach the training department, what’s important to the company, because love of learning alone won’t cut it.  Here are some potential selling points if you’re looking to pick up a corporate gig teaching writing:

  • Soft skills, including good writing, are often the determining factor in promotions.  Continued professional development is strongly desired by employees, especially when they think it can make a key difference in their mobility within the company.  Employees will know they are valued by the company when the company invests in them with strong professional development training in addition to on-the-job skills.

  • Perception is reality when it comes to customers.  Status reports and other communications to customers that contain errors can severely undermine credibility. It can help make the sale if you can demonstrate the problem.

  • Communication skills can affect a company’s image with potential employees.  Top talent is hard to find, and harder to recruit.  Make sure you’re making the best impression possible as recruits review company collateral, documents, and other written material.

  • Clear writing lets people operate more efficiently. At best, imprecise writing can lead to wasted time and effort as employees ask for clarification, but at worst it can lead to critical errors and scrapped product.

Use Hypothetical Writing Examples

You can use hypothetical examples, such as a computer programmer who writes fast, excellent code, and who was the natural choice to lead a project. But when the scope of the project changed, it appeared to be behind schedule.  However, she abhors public speaking, and her written communication outside of documenting her code is weak.  When the customers set up a formal meeting on the project’s status, how will her lack of communication skills affect your company’s ability to maintain the confidence of your customers? 

You can also find examples of unintelligible memos and other writing that demonstrates the problem 

A writing course or even one-on-one coaching can benefit not only the hypothetical programmer, but the company.   

This actually happened at a company I worked for with an engineer heading the team to develop a prototype. He had excellent technical skills, but a communication coach was brought him to help him prepare for a meeting with the external customers when the project’s time table slipped, and his documentation improved significantly.

The final word is that a company that helps employees with soft skills, especially writing, is helping to prevent loss:  lost business, lost savings, lost productivity, and lost opportunity.  Far from being an extra, investing in soft skills pays benefits across the board.




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