How important is a sales letter/email?
I have received hundreds of sales letters/emails of all different types. Introduction, literature enclosed, just met you, after the presentation, follow–up, here's the information, thanks for the order – you get the idea. Most have a specific purpose. Most are not very good (uninspiring). OK. Most of them are PATHETIC.
The skill of drafting sales words on a letter is an integral part of the sales process, because it creates an impression of you and your company when the customer or prospect reads it.
Here's how it works:
If you write a great letter, they think you're great.
If you write a creative letter, they think you're creative.
If you write a dumb letter...
Some salespeople have a hard time coming up with the appropriate words. Not because they can't write, but because they don't know the rules of writing.
Here are some rules and guidelines to help turn your sales letters/emails into sales:
- State your objective or the purpose (get to the point) of your letter in the first sentence. You can even use a headline above the body of text.
- Use short paragraphs. (for emphasis)
- Edit, edit, edit. Take out every word not integral to the purpose or objective of the communication.
- Keep the letter short. One page; three paragraphs. The shorter it is, the better chance you have of the letter being read and understood.
- Don't make the prospect vomit when he reads your letter. Make the letter easy to digest. Avoid heavy syrup. Half the adjectives, half the prepositional phrases, and most adverbs can be eliminated. Look behind commas to see if the entire phrase is worthy of keeping. Most of the time it's not.
- Use bullets to break up the monotony.
- Make the letter easy to read graphically.
- Use bullets to make the letter seem (or be) short and sweet.
- Use bullets to emphasize the most important points.
- Indent the bullets.
- Don't say "thank you for the opportunity," instead try "we are proud to offer."
- Don't bold your name – bold what's important to the prospect. Your name is among the least important words in the letter.
- Don't make it sound like a rubber stamp.
- Don't sell your product too much – just sell the next action step in the sales cycle and build some confidence and rapport. Don't use the letter as a sales pitch, just use it as a sales tool.
- Do the extra – the unexpected – enclose an article or something pertaining to the customer's business or just a good cartoon. Something that makes your prospect think you went beyond the norm to serve and communicate.
- Personalize it. Talk about a ballgame, child, event.
- Solidify the next contact or event – date it and time it.
- Edit out (almost) all words that end in "ly".
- Avoid superlatives ("est").
- Avoid the word "unique."
- Never say "again, thanks." It's not necessary to thank anyone again. Once is enough, twice is groveling.
- Don't misspell a word. One man misspelled "potato" and he paid for it dearly, perhaps for a career. Luckily he didn't have a very important job.
- Use an example (or similar situation) the customer/prospect can relate to.
- Bold stuff to get people's attention – but only when absolutely necessary.
- Ask for response.
- Use a nice, non–beg, professional closing like: "Thank you for your time and consideration. I'll call you Tuesday."
- Sign your first name only. There are some – but rare – occasions when this is inappropriate. (A letter of agreement where both people must sign, or a formal quote that might end up in a corporate office for approval.)
24.5 Very truly yours (and I mean that), Jeffrey H. Gitomer.
P.S. If you want to make your plea or point twice, use a P.S.
Here's a tough rule: Let your letter sit for a day – then re–read it. How does it sound to you? If the answer is "thin" or "hokey" you may want to start over.
Here is a tougher rule: Ask someone smart and impartial to critique your letter. Learn to accept criticism, and use it as a learning tool.
Here's the toughest rule: Ask yourself how this letter would be different from your competition. Suppose the sale was based on the originality of your cover letter, would you ever make another sale? Uh oh.
Knowing the rules AND practicing them will lead to effective letters. Effective letters lead to prospect rapport and confidence. Prospect rapport and confidence leads to sales.
Want an example of a cover letter that won a proposal? Just go to www.gitomer.com, click Access GitBit/RedBit at the top of the screen, register if you're a first time user and enter the words, COVER LETTER.