How Not To Write A Sales Letter

The industry’s quest for search advertising and next-gen digital technologies is endless. Though technology is undoubtedly important, too often, there’s not enough emphasis on the soft science aspects of closing the sale. This applies to everything from search technology to agency services. Take the sales letter, for example.

Like many agencies; we get sales solicitations all the time. All too often, those solicitations are poor excuses for communication.

I got a doozy recently and I took the time to provide some helpful feedback. The <company name> has been removed to protect the hopeless.

Dear <sales rep’s name>:

I made some notes on your sales letter in (red) below.

Overall, you need to shorten up your delivery a bit and always remember that agency decision makers have precious little time. Most people only scan these letters, if they read them at all.

For heaven’s sake, “Hi, <insert name> comma is not a salutation. It may look odd to see “Dear <insert name>,” so you can simply use “insert name,” better yet, try Mr./ Ms. Also, the arbitrary “All the best” is trite so, if you have that in your signature template, kill it. You also mentioned your company name 31 times and managed to spell it correctly 29 times.

Lastly, letters like this are intended to inform briefly, not close the sale. Keep it brief.

Very truly yours,

Kevin Ryan Motivity Marketing, Inc.

Comments in context located in ()

—–Original Message—–

From: <sales rep>

To: <poor bastard that signed up for a white paper>

Subject: Learn About <company name’s> integration with Facebook (Goshawful boring subject line.)



OLD: I thought (NOTE: No one ever cares what you think when you are in sales, cowboy your language up.) you might be interested to see how <company name> has integrated with Facebook and the benefits of managing your campaigns through our platform.

NEW: I’m writing to inform you of the latest search engine advertising tactics and Facebook advertising integration deployed on <company name> platform team. I’ve included links to our white papers but I am happy to schedule a time to walk you through the information personally.

OLD: Below is a bit of info on <company name> and the integration with Facebook along with some useful links. (NOTE: Get rid of this sentence.)

OLD: Our PPC management platform has recently added Facebook advertising and display. (NOTE: “Recently added” implies that you aren’t really experts and the platform is untested. No one is going to risk their internal credibility on an untested platform — the only thing “recent” should be the amazing tactics that you execute.)

OLD: Essentially our tool is made specifically for Agencies such as yours, (How do you know what my agency is like?) and has been designed with features to alleviate the problems that are unique to agencies (Such as? This is too ambiguous; get rid of it).

OLD: Our platform can help you pull information from a variety of sources including all major search engines and Google Analytics data.

NEW: The <company name> technology platform is widely recognized as an innovative way to manage search advertising, other PPC advertising models, display and Facebook advertising. <Company name> also has the ability to help you integrate knowledge from Google Analytics.

OLD: One of the benefits of <company name>’s platform, is the ability to cut the amount of time it takes to get your reports out by 80%. (NOTE: I’m no grammar expert, but Oy Vey.)

OLD: We allow you to set up bid-rules to achieve your objectives. <company name> has the most flexible rule builder in the industry! (Are you really that excited about it? Exclamation points are overused in sales communications! You should use them sparingly!)

OLD: Some of the new features we’ve implemented to enhance our platform are:

* Bid management (This is new?!?!?!?!?!?!)

* Display (Redundant)

* New Charts and Data for reports (Are these new-new or just new? Describe the features and intelligence gained. No one ever asks for “charts and graphs”)

* Conversion attribution (I hope so.)

* Algorithms (Algorithms? REALLY? ALGORITHMS?)

* Integration with Facebook and Google Analytics (Redundant)

* No API Fee’s (What’s an API? Most people will have no idea what this means.)

NEW: <company name> time-saving and battle-tested features include:

* Advanced goal and rule based management

* Multi-level attribution, social advertising and analytics integration

* Display, Facebook & search advertising in one interface

* Exclusive Facebook advertising tools saving & reusing audience segmentation.

OLD: FACEBOOK (Kill this entire section. This is the wrong time to get all preachy and op-ed; this is way too much information.)

If you’ve ever been frustrated by the “F” word — Facebook — you’re not alone! Ever since Facebook has allowed ads, marketers have wanted a better way to track the ROI of their campaigns on the world’s most popular social network. And today, we’re excited to tell you that <company name> has introduced new functionality that will help you do just that.

With <company name>’s new Facebook Ads functionality, you’ll be able to:

* Create new or import existing Facebook ads

* Manage ads and campaigns at massive scale inside our bulk editor

* Track ad and campaign performance with <company name>’s conversion and revenue tracking

* Automate & optimize performance to detect and overcome ad fatigue and manage bids

* Report on the entire funnel across search, social and display networks using flexible and powerful cross-channel revenue and conversion attribution models

Points 3 & 7 below are huge time savers that can only be accomplished using <company name>!

1. Full FB support in Campaign Automation – including 3 decimal places for CTR

2. Full FB support in Reports – Graph by Publishers, Search vs. Content (and Social), Top Ads

3. Save and reuse Targeting segments

4. Upload & select multiple likes and interests

5. Keyword Tools

6. Bulk edit ads including upload of zipped image files

7. Duplicate a Facebook campaign instantly

8. Replace Text


(Shorten all of these links, or better yet, use tracking URLs.)

Description of Social Media Solutions (description = boring word) http://www.<company name>.com/solutions/social-media/

ebook: Best Practices in Facebook Marketing (I like this) www. (tracking url) .com

Webinar: Facebook Advertising: Testing and Optimization (also good) www. (tracking url) .com

Sample Report Generated From <company name> Platform (boring, too much) www. (tracking url) .com

If you found this information useful (Why wouldn’t I think it’s useful? Are you sending me crap?) and you’d like to hear more, I would be more than happy (I’ve course you’d be happy, you have a sales number to hit) to set you up (Set me up? You mean you are not an expert? Why am I talking to you then?) with one of my experts here to give you a personalized demo (Schedule a demo? WOW! Now that sounds exciting) of the updated platform around your specific needs (I thought you already knew about my needs) and challenges. (Needs and challenges, needs and challenges– say that phrase 10 ten times to see if it develops any meaning.)

All the best, (Again, please stop this– it’s all so bad. This should be a sincere and complimentary closing and don’t even think about getting cutesy. Just say thank you.)

<Sales person’s name>

T (does “T” mean telephone?) <555 555 1212>

Toll Free: 1.800.555.1212

<contact email>

<company name> inc. <company address>

www.<company name>.com

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Column


About The Author: is CEO of Motivity Marketing. Motivity ‘s focus is helping companies in the world of connected marketing move forward with greater impact and return than they may ever have thought possible. Kevin takes an active role in guiding the day-to-day strategic execution of client initiatives.

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  • Earthcare

    Wow, you really tore up this letter, but it was very helpful. In general, people want others to be thorough, yet concise. Thanks for sharing!

  • MyInfoSnap

    This was as hard to read as it was painful. If you are trying to show someone the correct way…show the original version, then show your version and call it a day. You probably had some really good points…

  • Francesca StaAna

    It’s definitely a painful read. What’s sad though, is that I’ve seen worse. 

  • Authority Buzz

    Great dissection Kevin. Very informative. You should use this as a door opener for new business with the company that sent you the letter.

  • olafpijl

    Thanks, this feedback will help me to improve my sales!

    (is my exclamation mark justified?!?) :)

  • Chris Elwell

    Really good piece, Kevin. Lots of constructive advice for the author of the letter and sales people in general, e.g. make communications client focused rather than vendor focused.

    This would have been more effective if there were a little more empathy for your target. Being CEO, you understand how difficult the art of sales is.

    BTW, there’s a typo in your About the Author listing above, unless the company name really is /Motivity. I’d also recommend agaist using meaningless phrases like “connected marketing” to describe what you do.

    Just sayin…

  • Cory Grassell

    Great edits! If you’re open to my “two cents,” avoid starting a letter with “I’m writing to inform you.” This has become one of my pet peeve over the years, for several reasons. First, it’s obvious that the writer is writing. Nowhere in history has a more-obvious statement been made. Second, if you need to tell someone the intent of your writing (i.e., “I’m writing to inform you,” “I just wanted to tell you about,” etc.), you’ve lost before you’ve begun. Get right to the point. Sales letters get little attention and even lower response rates, so cut to the chase. The intro is, perhaps, the key part of a letter, as it captivates and directs readers to the “meatier” content.

  • FreeRange Pamela

    @twitter-17866207:disqus – Kevin’s bio has now been corrected. Thanks for pointing that out :-)

  • BFB

     That would be the -worst- way to show his corrections and comments.
    Forcing people to jump back and forth between two versions is the best way to make sure little of it gets read, and even less is taken on board.

  • BFB

    My pet peeve in Mr Chumpy-Britches crummy sales-pitch is the word ‘solutions’.
    Ooh jiminies that gets my goat!  Especially when some dingbat decides to use it in their business name as in: Bob’s IT Solutions, or Fishface Website Solutions or WORSE when it’s snuggled up against “Provider’ as in: ‘Blahblah Broadband Solution Providers’.
    This is stupidity and word-redundancy at it’s worsterest.

    The intent behind ALL businesses is to be ‘solutions providers’  – we automatically assume that, because if they WEREN’T, they be ‘PROBLEM providers’ – much like that rubbish American mega-biz Starbucks who certainly don’t provide any sort of REAL coffee ‘solution’. Actually, they do, after a fashion, as it’s a ‘solution’ in the liquid sense isn’t it? An overpriced as-far-from-coffee-as-you-can-get heavily diluted solution.

    PS: I delete ALL e-mails which address me as ‘Mr’, or worse ‘Dear’. ‘Hi’ is fine for me, anyone who has a problem with it thinks too much of themselves and should remove the stick.
    PPS: I also hang up on anyone who rings and asks for me without first announcing themselves, but then again, Bastard by name….!

  • Sabrina

     How popular is Google+? We could have the debate over active users
    again, but we’ve been there, done that. Instead, a new study is out that
    tries something different, comparing the number of shares the same
    story gets in relation to users on each of the major social networks. By
    that metric, Google+ is far, [...]

  • Excellent Presence

    Yes! The original version was absolutely deplorable. It would be interesting to know if the marketer responded to your suggestions. As it seems like spam, I’d expect not.

    Very, very few people truly know how to write quality sales copy. And by “quality,” I of course mean copy that gets results. In the defense of *actual* copywriters, it’s a very intricate science to learn. Yet, most still believe that their copy is golden, and that they’re expert copywriters because they can put a grammatically correct sentence together. Then they wonder why conversion rates are dismal. Smh.


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