I am often asked about the effectiveness of letters as a prospecting strategy in today’s electronic world. You see email, cold calling, and webinar tips, but rarely hear about letters.
Direct mail has fallen off considerably. Anything suspected to be a sales approach gets tossed in the name of productivity savings. It’s harder than ever to ensure your letter reaches the intended recipient. Even when you pay the extra money to send it via Express Mail it’s frequently an assistant who opens your letter and determines if the boss will read it.
As a result, many sellers have given up on letters. And yet, you are frequently presented with golden opportunities to use them to make an impression and get in the door with top executives.
Recently Sarah, a seller I work with, discovered that a number of her target prospects were named to the Top Places to Work list for her metropolitan area.
Lists of companies being recognized like Sarah’s prospect are published every day. Announcements of noteworthy changes are broadcast. When a company is adding staff, launching new products or relocating, they want everyone to know it. All present a great opportunity to drop a potential prospect a note and launch your gain access campaign.
Sarah recognized the unique chance the Top Places to Work award offered her. While she wanted to use it as an entree to introduce herself and her services, she wasn’t sure how. She knew it couldn’t be a typical sales letter. It had to be more personal than that.
When you take the time to write a personalized letter, you’ll be surprised by the response. The company president will not only take your call, he may even reach out to you to thank you for acknowledging his company’s accomplishments. Once he does, you can segue into setting an appointment to get to know him and share ideas you have for his business.
It all begins with a letter an executive appreciates and remembers.
It sounds easy to write, but when you sit down to do it you suddenly have writer’s block. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Personalize it. Yes, I’m going to say it. Hand write the letter. Use a 4” x 6” note card and pen your congratulations. You aren’t sending a lead generation email to 120 people from your micro-segment. The group you’re writing is probably fewer than 10 people, so you can take the time to write it out. If your writing is illegible, print. If you don’t have note cards to use, hand write it on your letterhead. Finally, if you must type it, consider hand writing “Congratulations, Tom!” at the top to add a tone of informality. Your letter has to feel as if it was written especially for your contact to be memorable.
- Keep it simple. Sarah wrote:
Congratulations on your outstanding success! I saw your award as one of the Top Places to Work. What an honor! You’ve built a business of high caliber. I look forward to congratulating you personally at an upcoming Chamber event! Sincerely,
In many cases your prospect may even want to share it with other staff members!
- Follow-up. Two weeks after sending your note, call to congratulate the prospect in person. Mention that you’d enjoy the opportunity to get together. Suggest that you meet for coffee or connect at the next association event he’s likely to attend. Chances are he’ll remember your letter, take your call, and agree to meet.
Don’t give up on letters just yet. Tweak your approach to distinguish yourself and start building a relationship with the top executives in your prospect list by recognizing their accomplishments. They will appreciate you noticing and want to get to know you.