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Sales Solutions
Writing Effective Sales Letters vol 3, issue #5
May, 2005

The title of our last webinar, in April, was "Overcoming Cold Call Reluctance." In it, we covered various ways to deal with the sometimes gut-wrenching feelings many of us get when preparing to make prospecting calls. One of the ways discussed was by making those cold calls less cold. By warming them up. And one great way to warm up a cold call is to send another form of communication in advance of the call - a letter (or an email). This month's tip is about writing sales letters. What to write, and how to write them to maximize the likelihood that the call you follow up with will be welcomed, and not viewed as an annoying intrusion.


But simply sending any old letter won't accomplish that goal. Before we write and send that letter, we need to do some research on the companies and individuals we're planning to approach. After all, what prospect - especially if we're calling in senior executives - wants to talk to a salesperson who hasn't taken the time to do his or her homework? Well, where do we find this information? Lots of places. General information on companies is readily available at your local library, on the internet, and from a host of other resources - too many to cover here. Industry information is available from the same sources, as well as from industry associations. Information on the specific individuals you'll be calling may be available as well (see the management bios on companies' web sites). Even information on the issues with which various executives within an organization are likely to be dealing is now available, thanks to a fabulous new service dedicated to providing this invaluable information - Executive Link (profiled below).


Armed with this information, it's now time to get to work. First, think about why you're writing - your Purpose. In this case, your purpose is to whet your prospect's appetite, preparing him or her for a follow- up call. Next, consider how you're going to organize your letter. Letters - like speeches - have an Opening, a Body and a Conclusion. Your Opening could - no - should be a Headline: A bold statement, testimonial, or endorsement that induces the recipient to read further. A good headline grabs your prospect's Attention. You then generate Interest with an important Benefit of your product or service that your prospect values. In the Body of your letter you ratchet up this interest with additional benefits, and by using powerful emotional words and phrases to stimulate Desire, while at the same time anticipating and addressing the reader's skepticism. Your Conclusion either contains a Call to Action, or makes the reader receptive to a follow-up call. Lastly, include a PostScript that reiterates your main point. Studies show that almost everyone reads the PS (often it's the first thing their eyes are drawn to!).


Writing Tips

Here are some tips that - when used in the context just lain out, will raise the odds of a welcome reception to your follow-up call:

  1. Use High-Impact Words to get your message across. Examples include New, Save, Guarantee, Proven, Results, Easy, Money, Safe, Complementary. These words help your customers visualize how they will feel when they own your product or use your service, and motivate them to convert this feeling into reality. Try using series of three words or phrases in rapid succession.
  2. Focus on the prospect and their problems and needs by using "You" and "Your", instead of drawing attention to you and your company with "I". "We", or "Our". The harsh reality is that prospects are more concerned with themselves than they are with you.
  3. Be concise. People don't have time to read long diatribes. Those of you who've been subscribers to this newsletter since the beginning may have noticed that the average length of my sales tip has dropped dramatically.
  4. But also be clear. Don't cut out so much that you lose clarity. Also, avoid jargon, buzzwords, and uncommon words (regardless of whether they're more precise)
  5. Be specific - Quantify wherever possible
  6. Review what you've written


ACTION ITEM

Take a crack at composing a sales letter using these guidelines. Do what good writers do and write first, edit later. Test it out on a friend or colleague for impact, and have them make adjustments. Try sending a couple of variations to different sets of prospects, follow up with your phone calls, and see which gets you through to the recipient. A well- written, impactful letter should result in more "warm" follow-up calls being answered than would pure "cold" calls.


Good Selling!


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