Sales Enablement: How Communicating In Bullet Points Increases Response Rates

Attention spans are short and getting shorter. As a result, reaching decision makers by phone alone is ineffective. So, salespeople need to learn how to communicate in bullets or written bites. It may sound easy, but it’s not. Here are some important sales enablement rules of thumb for bullet points.

Bullet points are never just a feature list. A good bullet point is composed of an action verb (see chart) followed by a benefit and result or a result and benefit statement. A car door lock is a feature. The car door stays shut while driving is the benefit of the car door lock. The result of having car door locks is you feel safe. People buy based upon results and benefits, not features.

The Magic Bullet

For example, let’s summarize the results of one of my best sales training classes for sales reps. After attending the class, they:

  • Learned how to leverage phone-based professional communication skills to find more business fast,
  • Uncovered the secrets of how to get appointments with decision makers easier,
  • Discovered how to fill up their sales pipelines, enabling sales forecasts to stay ahead of target.

Each one of these contains a benefit followed by a result. Benefits are a function of faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensively (do not use the word cheaper)/more costly or better. In contrast, results are in terms of increases and decreases or more or less. Currency, percentages or time are used to help express numeric results.

Remember, decision makers buy measurable numeric results relating to the objectives they want for themselves and their organization, not the features of your solutions.

For your reference, here are some sample action words, effect words, and benefit statements:

Positive Action Verbs
Accelerate, Advance, Build, Expand, Gain, Improve, Promote, Reinforce
Negative Action Verbs
Block, Consolidate, Cut Down On, Eliminate, Minimize, Prevent, Stop
Positive or Negative Effect Words
Budget, Expenses, Income, Morale, Productivity, Revenue, Savings
Increasing or Decreasing Effect Words
Costs, Effort, Inconvenience, Liabilities, Obligations, Problems, Worry
Decision Maker Results, Wants, or Objectives (Personal)
Be More Effective, Be More Productive, Gain Increased Autonomy, Gain Increased Awareness, Have More Time
Decision Maker Results, Wants, or Objectives (Organizational)
Increase Its Profits, Increase Productivity, Make Processes Easier, Reduce Losses, Reduce Uncertainty

There are many more, of course. Be sure to combine them in ways that make sense, showing the increase of a positive effect (in other words, a benefit) or the decrease of a negative one (a pain point). When you connect the action and effect to a result, be sure the latter is something a decision maker cares about.

Practical Application

Emails are a major venue for bullet lists. Remember these emails are to be written in the past tense and related to the benefits and results your clients have received in the past.

For the best sales pitch emails, be sure to follow good email etiquette, starting with a subject line that won’t put your message in the spam folder and a good introduction. Remember to keep it concise and to the point.

Subject: Referred to you by ________________’s office.

Hi _______________,

_________________’s office referred me to you as the person responsible for making decisions about _________________. I (read, saw or heard) [Insert Custom Research & Source] _________________ about (you or your company) in the LA Times.

Now for the bullet list. Use an Action Verb from the list at the beginning of each bullet point. Each bullet point should stand on its own and should not be a continuation from the bullet above to avoid creating a run-on sentence.

Preface the list with clients who are their competitors, or are well-known (like Coca-Cola), or are near their location or otherwise recognizable.

Our clients such as _______________, ______________ and _________________ have used our solutions to:

  • [Insert an Action Verb and a Result, preferably numeric ($, %, #)], giving them the ability to[Connect the Result to a Benefit (faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensively /more costly or better].
  • [Insert an Action Verb and a Result, preferably numeric ($, %, #)], enabling them to [Connect the Result to a Benefit (faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensively /more costly or better].
  • [Insert an Action Verb and a Result, preferably numeric ($, %, #)] allowing them to [Connect the Result to a Benefit (faster/slower, easier/harder, less expensively /more costly or better].

The bullets should be rather short, to the point, and the list should fit on one screen. Remember, as email becomes more prevalent, and attention spans shorten, you as salespeople need to be able to communicate in short written bites or bullets.

The net effect of this approach will be to differentiate your email from a sea of others. If you have researched your prospect, know his or her wants and pain points, and are able to use concise, easy to scan bullet points, your open rates and your response rates will increase.

Now that’s sales enablement!