5 Tips for Creating an Effective Sales Prospecting Letter

Whether you're starting up or your business is going through a lull, a sales prospecting letter can be an excellent way to generate new leads.

But if you don't craft your letter along the lines of proven direct marketing techniques, you're unlikely to get the results you want. Here are five tips to help you get the best possible results from your sales prospecting letters.

Tip 1 - Targeting is Essential

First of all – where will you source the prospects who you'll be sending the introduction sales letter to? Are you sending to your own mailing list? A list you've bought? A list you're hiring? Are you just going to contact potential clients at random?

This is important. Sending out a sales prospecting letter is not just about the numbers you send out. You can generate more sales by sending to a hundred targeted prospects, rather than sending a thousand to untargeted prospects.

You need to know if the prospects you're sending to are even likely to be interested in your offer. The more targeted your prospect list is, the less you'll have to spend to send it out and the better your returns will be.

If your introduction sales letter will be a page on your website, targeting it will come down to researching and using the best possible keywords in the copy.

And remember, if you're sending your letter by email, make sure it doesn't cross the boundary into the zone of “spam.” See Tip 5 for more on this.

Tip 2 - Offer Something for Free

One time-tested method for generating higher response rates to sales prospecting copy is to offer something for free. This can be in the form of an 'information kit' or a white paper. It can be a free trial or software download.

Whatever it is, it needs to be of value to the kind of people you want to market to. Have a clear idea of who your target market is and create a free resource that will appeal to those potential customers.

The great thing about using this method online is that you can exchange the free gift for an email address, helping you build your own list to market to directly in future.

Tip 3 - Keep the Initial Commitment Low

This is particularly important if you're selling a big ticket item. Few potential customers will buy a service or product with a high price tag the first time they're exposed to your offer (even if your sales copy is excellent).

It's much easier to get the prospect to commit to a small response first, then follow up with more sales material until you get the sale.

An initial commitment could be the example we used above: exchanging an email address for a free resource. Once the prospect is on your email list, you can then send more follow-up offers directly to her inbox.

This helps increase the overall conversion rate of your marketing efforts in general, because prospects are more likely to convert when they're exposed to your offer numerous times, rather than just once.

Once you have that initial commitment, your company is no longer a stranger to the prospect. You've done some 'pre-selling' – they know what you're about, who you are, and what you offer. Pre-sold prospects are more likely to become paying clients than cold prospects.

Tip 4 - Make Response Easy

You need to make it as easy as possible for someone to respond to your introduction sales letter. Again, let's take the example of having someone exchange their email address for a free white paper (after which their address is automatically added to your mailing list). The white paper may pre-sell a service worth in excess of $1000.

Usually you won't need a long prospecting letter for this – in fact, most of these kinds of pages, referred to online as 'squeeze pages,' will be short on copy. But you do need to make sure the call to action is as clear and strong as possible.

You also need to simplify response as much as you can – that means not adding unnecessary fields to the response form, and it may mean providing multiple contact options so prospects can get in touch with any questions they may have.

Tip 5 - Follow Accepted Rules for First Time Contact

Spam is a huge problem online. If you stray into spam territory with your prospecting efforts, you can both tarnish your brand name and end up in legal trouble.

So it's important to know the rules and make sure you abide by them. You'll want to refer to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (don't take this article as legal advice).

A few of the most important things to remember are:

  • Don't push too hard for a sale with first-time prospects – give them a way to register their interest in getting more information.
  • Don't automatically harvest email addresses from the web.
  • Don't use a list you don't have permission to send to (if you buy a list, do thorough due diligence).
  • If you're hand-picking prospects, take the time to personalize your letter. It will help get a better response rate and will set you apart from the spammers out there.

Here's a more thorough guide to complying with CAN-SPAM straight from the FTC website.

Getting Help with a Sales Prospecting Letter

Still having trouble generating the leads and sales you want from your sales prospecting letters? Our professional copywriting services can help turn that around.

We can boost the conversion rates of the letters you send out or use on your website, so you get a better return from your efforts.

Contact us now for a free quote.

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