Writing sales letters is an art that can take a bit of practice. This article highlights the four most common mistakes and offers some tips.
When anyone opens a letter or an email, they think “What’s in it for me?” Nothing else. So you must convince them within the first few seconds that you can offer solutions to their problems. It takes only a few seconds after the email is opened for the judgment to be made: “read on or delete”. So it’s got to be right in the first few lines.
Here is a list of common errors made by courier sales people, both in letters and face to face:
Error 1: Talking about yourself first
Many sales letters begin with “I am….” and they continue throughout the whole letter to tell you about themselves and how terrific they are. Better to start “If your business has problems with its courier deliveries, we’re here to solve them…”
Error 2: Giving irrelevant information
A variation of the first, this usually involves stating the obvious in the first line, as in “The printing industry has tight margins, and nowadays you need to look after every penny”. Unless it genuinely impresses and is relevant to their needs, this kind of opening line adds nothing of value. Similarly a list of your equipment or
vehicles with technical details means little. All people want is good-value solutions to their problems. Better to say: “With many years of experience behind us, we think we know how to solve your courier delivery problems….”
Error 3: Not understanding what is wanted
Most courier sales people don’t listen properly. They concentrate on their sales pitch rather than listening to the prospect’s problem and learning what he wants to buy. If necessary, start by saying “I’d like to have an opportunity to listen to you, to find out about your use of couriers, and what your current problems are….”.
People buy solutions and benefits, not services and features. You go to a mechanic not because he is a mechanic, but because he will fix your van. You choose a particular one because he is reliable, punctual, fair, good value and easy to deal with, not because he told you that he’s got more spanners than anyone else.
Nevertheless, you do need to back up your claims. So a sales letter gives prospects a strong, credible indication of the range of problems you’ve met and solved, and the difference this has made to your customers. It helps reassure them that you will solve their problem and that it will be safe for them to deal with you. You’re someone they can trust. Take what you learn from listening to them to be people’s real needs while you’re out selling, and incorporate it into your sales letters.
Error 4: Not showing how you will help
Look for and offer solutions, at every turn. List and highlight the problems you can solve. For example, don’t be tempted to say things like: “We use freelance subcontractors who get paid on a percentage basis”. They just don’t want to hear it. They’d rather hear something like “You can call us any time day or night to book a courier delivery, and if your customer ever asks for a Proof of Delivery, it’s all there on the website”. You’re offering to solve their problem of not being able to get hold of a courier company after office hours, and you’re helping them answer their customers’ proof of delivery queries. Be brief, and remember that the main purposes of your letter is to be on their desk to remind them of you when they need to change courier, and to help them feel they’ve heard of you when they get your follow-up phone call.
(C) 2009 Tim Gilbert – All rights reserved.