Writing Effective Sales Letters - Part II : Step by step guidance with examples

Writing a sales letter that draws customer's attention, develops interest towards your product and finally lead to a successful transaction is more of technique and skill than knowledge of English or mastery over grammar.

In part I of this series, we discussed essential features of an effective sales letter. In this part, we discuss specific tasks with examples.

Here's how to write an effective sales Letter - step by step.

Task number One - Draw Reader's Attention

In today's busy life and hectic work schedule - customers are unlikely to give you more than few seconds to impress them. In most cases, the battle to draw customer's attention is won or lost within seconds of first encounter.

So, if your website takes more than 20 seconds to show anything substantial - you are likely to lose many customers. For sales letter the time limit is even less - about 6 seconds. If first few lines of your sales letter can not draw recipients attention - it may be heading for trash folder.

Try your best to get customer's attention within the first line of your letter. It's the most important line in your entire communication. Remember, you are up against a lot of competition for the attention of your reader - every word, every sentence of your letter is important ! Here are few examples on how to start a sales letter:

  • Asking a question in which the answer is guaranteed to be "yes" is a good way to start
    "Would you like to reduce your packing cost by 50% ?" "Wouldn't you prefer to have your cargo handled by the leader in the field ?"
  • Another way to start a sales letter is to write a sentence that will surprise or shock the reader
    In 2001 - we helped over 500 small businesses like yours to export to Latin America
  • However, if you are contacting the customer for the first time or if your company is unknown, you might start with a more conservative and general introduction of yourself.

 Example A:

ABC Glass Works is a leading Indian manufacturer and exporter of handmade glass beads. The range of our product line, good quality and competitive price have made us one of the fastest growing companies of its kind in India.

Example B:

XYZ Buying Agency, established in 1991, is one of the fastest growing agents in India. We currently represent a number of major US and European importers, such as Walmart, Le Peng, Feng Sui and others.

Example C: 

Genford Trading was founded in 1987 to serve the automobile component industry in Delhi. Since then we have expanded our market year by year to where we now have customers in 12 countries around the world.

Task Number Two - Building Interest and Desire

Having successfully attracted customer's attention, your next task is to hold on to this and convince him/her of the value of your product in a logically coherent fashion.

The best way to hold on to customer's attention is to build interest by describing how your product can help him/her. Use colorful, descriptive words if necessary - but never forget the marketing maxim - benefits sell, not products.

In this paragraph you must show the reader that he/she

  • needs your product (e.g. a new model of an existing product)
  • could use your product with greater ease and less time (an easier packaging system)
  • should not be without your product (insurance)
  • would lead to better margin (cheaper price) 
  • bring better quality than his/her existing line
  • would sell more (a new line of garments that his/her competitors do not have access) etc.

Sentence by sentence, in a logically coherent fashion, you lead the reader through your sales pitch. If he/she closes eyes he/she should be able to see the new business, increased sales, more profit, greater convenience and comfort etc.

Example A:

Located in Panipat (near Delhi), we produce a wide variety of carpets, durries, curtains and other home furnishing items in 100% cotton for home as well as office. The carpets are of good quality, popular with customers and sell well. Our total production averages 50 thousand pieces per year, 80% for export and 20% for domestic market.

Example B:

We are happy to announce that we are now offering this same service to European import companies like yours. >From our office in Tirupur, the heart of low cost and good quality readymade garments, we can supply your company with whatever kind of apparel you would like.

There are two more tasks of convincing the customer and lead him/her to an action. We shall discuss about that in next issue

Related Links:

Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 30 November 14' 2002

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at amit@infobanc.com )

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