Improving your Sales Letter Writing
Seven tips for writing better sales letters
A great sales letter presents the benefits of your products or services, clearly highlighting them to the reader. Your letter must move the prospect further along in the sales cycle, by describing the next step. Whether your goal is a one-to-one meeting, sales presentation, or the opportunity to present a cost proposal, ask for it in your letter and then follow through as promised. Also, always include your ‘call to action’; no marketing campaign or advert should miss the point and neither should your sales letter. These tips apply whether your communication is in postal format or to be sent by email.
Don’t be distant …
When writing your sales letter, use a friendly and conversational style. Avoid “corporate speak” , obscure words, jargon and business clichés – it rarely impresses and often irritates. There is obviously a balance though; so don’t be overly familiar or too ‘chummy’, keep it professional, simple, clear and well thought through.
About them – not you …
Make sure you personalise your letter. Refer to earlier meetings, conversations or correspondence you may have had. Within the context of your letter mention their company, their products, their services and their objectives (if you know what they are). Your letter should not have the feel of a template but, rather, a smooth, natural flow that is entirely concentrated the reader.
Resist the temptation to write about what “we offer” and instead focus on what “you’ll get.” No one wants to read a litany of what you do, how you do it, or what you provide. They do want to read about how your service will make their lives easier or better. So all sales letters must be written from this perspective, eliminating most uses of the words “we” and “I” and replacing them with “you.”
Be careful with the salutation. Unless you’ve held a conversation with the recipient that puts you on a first-name basis, it’s best to adhere to a more formal mode of address.
Make it worth their while …
Your sales letter must convey benefits. Cynical it may be but everybody (well, nearly everybody) cares about one thing in business – “What’s in it for me?” Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, “If I was receiving this letter, why would I want to buy the proposition? What do I get out of it?”
The benefits must be contained in the first paragraph. Features, the characteristics of your company, your products or services, are used in the body of your letter to explain the benefits you promise. Finally, restate your primary benefit in the last paragraph
Define the next step …
You must take responsibility for the next step. Smart sales people know it is a mistake to expect prospects to take action on their own. Even with a strong call to action containing an incentive, you should retain control by telling your prospect what you plan to do next. In other words, give the prospect the opportunity to contact you, but don’t expect it. State what action you plan to take and be sure to follow through.
Keep it clean
Keep the letter layout simple and professional, avoiding “loud” graphics, borders and colours—unless they’re already a part of your product or brand image.
The appearance of your letter must be consistent with professional one-to-one correspondence since anything over the top may scream “junk mail.” Use your business stationery and make judicious use of color and bullet styles. Never use exclamation marks, and stay away from copy written in capital letters because it is actually harder to read and seems to yell at the reader. (NB. Especially avoid UPPER CASE in emails; it is poor etiquette and, in fact, rude).
The basics …
Make sure you get important sales correspondence proofed, just as you would any other document. Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, mangled syntax and repetition will creep through from time to time… and guess what? You won’t spot it. It is nearly impossible to proof your own work properly. Your brain is conditioned to your own mistakes – a fresh pair of eyes is always preferable.
Also, make sure you put in a direct contact number for yourself. On generic stationery, your personal contact details will not be included, so make it as easy as possible for your prospect to contact you.
Oh, and by the way …
Include a postscript. This is one sales tactic that can be borrowed successfully from direct mail, although it may not be appropriate for every type of business. A punchy PS will resonate and stay your reader’s mind. You could, for example, re-state your prime benefit in a different way or you could remind them of an upcoming event they might like to attend.
If you have arrived at this sentence then thanks for taking the time to read this month’s email – we hope you have found these simple tips interesting. Some will be appropriate, some not, but if you can pick up one good habit that you didn’t already have, then our work is done!
Written by Bid Perfect. Bid Perfect has more free tips on their web site: www.bidperfect.co.uk
Submitted by the BPc, specialising in Internet presence and Internet Marketing, www.thebpc.org.uk