Can You Manage?

Fast Pitch

Hundreds of articles have been written on what to put in a pitch letter. This isn't one of them. Instead, it's a reminder of what not to include:

  • Overly solicitous greeting. As a rule, stick with "dear." It's not an eye-catcher, but it's much better than a forced greeting ("Howdy, Steak-Loving Buddy!") or the clich├ęd "Dear Valued Customer," which seems insincere even if it's not.
  • Exaggerations. If you exaggerate, you instantly lose credibility with your prospects. Be complimentary without doing a snow job. Say something nice about the potential customer's business, but be cautious. For example, one letter writer proclaimed he liked a business product so much he found himself spending time with it instead of his children. That's not believable--and even if it were true, what's the writer saying about himself?
  • Dramatic punctuation and formatting. Exclamation marks lose their meaning if they're overused!!! Underlines, boldface, italics and all the things your computer can do are not necessarily easy on the eye. In many cases, they will also add an air of hucksterism to your company and its product or service. One letter I received from a mail order firm looked like a printout of all the fonts available.
  • Information that won't help sell. All you need to put in the letter is a description of what you can do for customers and why they should choose you instead of your competitor. As with phone sales, don't waste your prospects' time with information they don't need.
  • Odd closing. "Yours in sales," "Keep marketing," etc., sound like you're trying too hard. Keep it simple and don't sound as if you're dying to sell something--even if you are.

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