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Ensure a better response to your sales letters by following these tips

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YOU could just send out your brochure to potential customers, but it is much better to differentiate your mail with a well-written sales letter. Here are some guidelines:

Personalise

Using the person's name in a sales letter will give you the greatest success. It is usual to address sales letters to "Dear Transport Manager" or "Dear Friend" or "Dear Sir or Madam". However, this lessens your chances of getting a response.

Have a good headline

You have got to grab the reader's attention as quickly as possible. There must be a reason for them to read on. The same rules that you would use in your advertising or your brochure apply to your sales letter. You need to start with words such as "How to" or "Discover" or "The Secrets of" to spark your readers' curiosity.

Start with an anecdote

Introduce your message with a short relevant story. For example, you might say something like this if you were introducing a management training programme: "Seventy per cent of employees don't leave their jobs; they leave their managers."

Then, you should provide supportive statistics and give details on the cost of staff turnover. Proceed to show how you could reduce these costs and improve productivity through your training programme.

Use "You", not "I" or "We"

Make each letter sound as though you are speaking to that individual rather than to a group of people.

Your letter needs to tell the reader what's in it for him. Tell him how he will personally benefit, how his business will benefit and/or how his problems will be resolved.

Be believable

Don't make "fantastic" claims for your product or service. Your letter has to be credible or it is likely to be tossed aside.

Get your tone right

Write the letter as if you were speaking to the person it is addressed to. It has to sound warm, friendly, sincere and not too businesslike. Read your letter out loud and if it sounds pompous or too businesslike, re-write it. You have to sound like someone your prospect would like to do a deal with.

Appeal to emotions

Human beings are largely driven by their emotions, so that is what you have to appeal to in any of your promotional materials. Use words like "feel" as in "You will feel less stressed when you follow this programme".

Do it now

Your letter must be a call to action. Tell the reader what to do now and offer an incentive: "Phone now to receive the early bird discount" or "Return the enclosed form today to receive your free gift."

Sign it

Signing each letter by hand (in blue ink) will increase your chance of a successful response. Depending on the number of copies you are sending out, this may not always be possible, so use the best software available to make your signature look realistic.

Something extra

Include a "P. S." after your signature, something that will "tease" the reader to read the text.

People look at a letter headline first. They then go to the bottom of the letter to see who sent it. They then read the "P. S." and that should encourage them to read the body of the letter. For example: "P. S. The free report will be sent within two days." They will be encouraged to read the letter to find out what the free report is all about.

The rule of seven

Remember the rule of seven: One letter won't do it; you will need to send at least seven over a period of time.

Treat your reader with dignity, respect and courtesy. The trick is in making a sales letter come across like a personal message to the individual. If the readers feel that you understand them and care about their situation, then they are more likely to bring their business to you.

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