Letter Perfect

Homebased expert Kim T. Gordon answers our readers' questions: What are the elements of a successful sales letter?
This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Startups. Subscribe »
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Q: I'm looking for help on writing a sales introduction letter for my new business. Do you have any tips or ideas on where I might be able to locate some resources?


A: The key to a successful sales letter is to answer the prospect's question, "What's in it for me?" Resist the temptation to write about what "we have" or what "we offer." The secret is to focus your letter on the benefits your prospect will enjoy when he or she chooses your firm.

Make a list of your principal benefits, and weave them into the opening paragraph. Concentrate on bottom-line benefits such as saving money or gaining peace of mind. If you have a special offer, use it as a hook to draw the reader in.

Next, the body of your letter should use features to illustrate how the reader will be able to take advantage of the promised benefits. Features are the characteristics of your company and its products or services. For example, if your opening paragraph promises that you'll help your customers save time or money, the body of your letter is the place to explain how. Use positive, direct language and bullets where appropriate to make your letter easy to read.

Your final paragraph should summarize the initial benefits and may include a "call to action." That's a special offer giving your prospect a reason to respond immediately. In the absence of a call to action, include a description of what you plan to do next. It's best to take responsibility for follow up, such as "I'll telephone you next week to set up an appointment at your convenience."

Following your signature and title, always include a postscript. You may be surprised to learn that the P.S. is read almost immediately after a prospect opens your letter. So by incorporating a reference to your benefits or special offer in your P.S., you'll stimulate your prospect to spend more time reading the body of your letter.

Edition: November 2016

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