by Sheryl Tuttle

wastepaper basketProperly written, a sales letter can be a powerful tool. It can warm a lead and let them know you will be calling, highlight some of the key points and advantages you offer, and call the recipient to action. Jim Logan offers some good advice on sales letters in his post, A Terrible One Page Sales Letter.

There are some great points in Jim’s post, and especially for those folks that actually read your sales letter. But let’s face it, many a good sales letter ends up tossed in the trash. So, where is the value then?

Common practice for a busy executive is to open and quickly scan your letter to determine his or her interest. First impressions count. For your letter to have any chance of being read, or even sufficiently scanned for that matter, here are a few important points to consider.

First, a too salesy letter can be a quick turnoff. It’s OK, even desirable, to have bolded text, bulleted lists, and a great attention-grabbing opener, but don’t overkill. The letter shouldn’t look like an advertisement. It’s not about how much information you can push out, but rather about pulling in the reader. The emphasized text should communicate advantages to your reader, and not be all about you.

Second, keep it professional. This doesn’t mean your letter cannot be fun and light, depending upon your business, but it does mean that it should be honest, straight-forward, and well written. Errors in grammar, spelling, word choice and more convey sloppiness and lack of attention, and are not the characteristics of a professional.

Finally, regardless of whether your sales letter is fully read or not, always follow-up with a call. Once your sales letter is mailed, add the prospect to your call list. A good sales letter may help to open the door, but it’s through actual contact and the ensuing relationship that new business is created.