Five elements to writing an effective sales letter

…make me feel like you know I’m unique

Writing an effective sales letter for a cold list?  Are you kidding me?

Cold calling doesn’t work.  Blind sales letters go right into the circular file cabinet.  E-mail solicitation to strangers get flagged as SPAM.

All of that is true.  Most of the time.

And while I will never be the guy advocating for blindly reaching out to people who have no idea who you are, have no burning need for what you’re selling and in fact, will probably see you as a nuisance, not a trusted partner — every once in awhile I see someone who does it masterfully enough that I admit, never say never.

We got an e-mail sales letter today that not only got me to read it but — got me to respond.  And that hardly ever happens.  I thought I’d share the letter with you (I did trim/paraphrase for space) and then we can identify why it worked.

“You can stop wasting time chasing after the wrong ones and simply attract the ones who are your perfect fit.  Customers who love you aren’t about the transaction.  They’re about the relationship.”

Now, some would call the above quote plagiarism, but let’s assume none of those people are here.  This quote was lifted from the MMG website because it’s simply one of the smarter lines I’ve read on an agency’s website in quite some time.  It’s honest and effectual, and it speaks volumes of the work your company does.  It makes advertising geeks like me want to get to know MMG and what the company is up to (and possibly get one of those sweet nicknames. Not going to lie – I’m a little jealous ‘Girl Wonder’ is already taken).

I just wanted to reach out and introduce myself as your new – or possibly first – rep for Company XYZ.

And now that I’ve explained why I want to work with you, I’d like to come in and tell you why you would want to work with me…

If you’re not familiar with Company XYZ, here are the Cliffsnotes: [Two short sentences about what they do]  On top of that, we swear by our customer service and I can promise you’ll be embarrassingly doted on as a client.

I’d love to swing through Des Moines office and get the scoop on what’s in the works at McLellan. Do you have any time available for lunch (liquid or otherwise – pick your poison) or a meeting the week of 8/1?

Looking forward to working together!


Bravo Sarah!  Let’s dissect her efforts to see what elements made this work:

Show me that you know me. I’m sure she used the same technique of quoting a prospect’s website in all her letters, but in this one — she quoted us.  And she referenced our job titles.  It felt like she “got us.”  No one wants to be prospect #2,843.

Cop our attitude: Our website is written with a bit of attitude and Sarah captured it perfectly in her e-mail.  It feels like we speak the same language.

Talk more about me than you: In the entire pitch e-mail, two sentences are about the company she works for.  The rest is about us.  And who doesn’t like to talk and read about themselves.

Keep it short: Whether it’s e-mail or snail mail — you don’t need to tell me everything in one fell swoop. Hit the highlights and whet my appetite.

When you talk about yourself, talk about me: Even in the two sentences she wrote about her company’s offerings — she talked about them in relation to how they could help us serve clients better.

Notice how many times I used the word “me” in the call outs above.  That’s why most sales letters don’t work.  Because they’re not about the prospect at all.  Most sales people don’t take the time to do their research or tailor the letter.

Which is why most sales letters go right in the trash.  But if you build in the elements that Sarah so deftly demonstrated — you might be surprised at the results!




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