Cold-Letters (5,773 Free Words)

9

Using snail-mail to open doors.


What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can’t reread a phone call.

– Liz Carpenter


Years ago, my brother-in-law, Tom, was the manager of Plant Maintenance and Operations of a large Midwest bank. Simply put, his job was to make sure the bank’s St. Louis headquarters, and its branches in a three-state region, operated as expected. His realm included everything from ensuring the bathroom trash cans are emptied to getting the parking lots repaved, so he made vendor and supplier decisions all the time.

When Tom first took the job, the bank sent a press release to the local papers, announcing his new position. The day after the papers printed the release, Tom received, in his words, “about 187 calls from salespeople.” 

In the following weeks and months, Tom continued to be bombarded with cold-calls from salespeople, most of which ended up in his voice-mail, because Tom stopped answering his phone. And he also received tons of cold-letters, often accompanied by literature, brochures and even the occasional “trinkets and trash.” 

At a family dinner, I asked Tom how he handled this bombardment, and he explained what he did in each situation:

  • Salespeople who reached Tom on the phone were told to send him something through the mail. If they tried to trick him in any way, they were told to never contact him again. (The common trick he mentioned was, “I was about to close a deal with your predecessor,” to which Tom would reply, “Yeah, right.”)
  • Voice-mail messages were deleted as soon as Tom realized they were sales calls. 
  • Every piece of mail (snail-mail) Tom received was opened, read and analyzed for its potential value to the bank. 
  • The material Tom felt had value was either handled immediately or filed away for retrieval when needed. 
  • In the following months, whenever Tom needed to find a new solution, he opened his file cabinet, examined the material and called the salespeople who had mailed him their information.

The point is that just like all decision-makers, Tom buys his way – he prefers to read vendors’ snail-mail, rather than dealing with them on the phone or through e-mail – and no salesperson will ever change that. So, if you want to sell to Tom, or any executive like him, using snail-mail to deliver your message is a skill you must perfect.

How Well Do Cold-Letters Work?

Success or failure depends on a great many things, and I have no way to predict how well cold-letters – first-contact letters to prospects who have probably never heard of you before – will work for you. So consider some primary factors when evaluating this marketing activity.

First among the major issues is your writing ability. If you did the writing exercises described earlier, and continue to hone that skill, your success with writing will increase over time.

Second on my major-issue list is your understanding of your prospects. How well have you identified the issues that greatly impact their companies? How good are you at describing results in terms with which they’ll identify? You must learn what motivates your prospects, and communicate it in their language before you can ever hope to succeed in any marketing activity, especially one that can so easily get tossed in the trash.

Last among the biggies is your willingness to build a complete campaign around the cold-letter writing you do. Yes, you can occasionally get an appointment by sending a few hundred letters to a group of prospects, but true success with cold-letter marketing comes through careful planning and multiple touches with each prospect over time.

So the good news is, the success of your cold-letter marketing will be determined by you.

The Crumple-And-Toss Response

When a decision-maker opens a cold-letter, she isn’t looking for the one reason to keep the letter or call the salesperson; she is looking for the one reason to toss the letter in the trash. Going through the mail is a “culling out” process, not a “culling in.” The first mission of every cold-letter, then, must be to avoid doing anything that will create what I call the “crumple-and-toss response.” Accomplish that mission, and the decision-maker will read your message, make an informed decision and:

  • Toss your letter anyway.
  • Save your material for future review.
  • Delegate action to someone else.
  • Take action right away.

While the first two results aren’t as good as the third and fourth, all are better than having the stuff you mail delivered to the circular file without consideration. So to achieve maximum prospect response, you must first avoid the 10 most common mistakes that will generate the crumple-and-toss response.

Mistake 1: Allowing Your Prospects To Decide Too Early

How many times have you tossed unopened mail in the trash, because you knew before opening the envelope that it was something you didn’t want?

Your prospects are no different from you, so, if your envelope provides enough information for them to make a decision about it, then it may get tossed before being opened. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your prospects open every piece of mail they receive.

Mistake 2: Ignoring Your Prospects’ Time Constraints

Do I really have to tell you again that decision-makers avoid letting others waste their time? Must I actually point out that guys like Tom spend no more than a few minutes each day going through their mail?

Yours is not likely the only letter on the prospect’s pile, so at most you have …

Eight seconds before the decision-maker will make the first yes/no decision about whether to crumple and toss.

It probably took you four seconds to read that last sentence, which has 19 words. So, at most, you have about 35 words with which to deliver your first compelling message, and thereby avoid the crumple-and-toss response. 

Then again, one compelling point is probably not enough to get your prospect to invest the time to read the entire piece, but a great opening can “buy” you …

Eight more seconds before the prospect makes his or her second toss/don’t-toss choice. That’s only 35 more words to make a point so compelling that the prospect will make the conscious decision to read the entire letter.

The second 35 words are probably the most critical of your letter, because they will either cause it to get tossed for good, or “buy” you …

One additional minute – the average amount of additional time most decision-makers will invest before making their final crumple and toss decision.

If you don’t make your first compelling point in 35 words, your next compelling point in another 35 words and keep your entire letter at 500 words or fewer, your letter won’t likely survive the prospect’s three crumple-and-toss decisions.

Mistake 3: Lying To Your Prospects

I once received a cold-letter from a large publishing company, along with a copy of a newsletter it published. The idea was to send me an example of the product the company wanted me to buy, in the hope I’d see enough value to part with some of my money.

Honestly, I never read the newsletter, because after “Dear Gill,” the first six words triggered my crumple-and-toss response:

“This is not a sales letter.”

When I read that, I literally grabbed the entire pile and tossed it straight in the trash (pretty much the same way I delete every e-mail with a subject line that says, “This is not SPAM”). Fortunately, about 10 seconds later, I realized the letter might make a great example of what not to do in a cold-letter mailing, so I retrieved it for another look.

In the body of the letter were two attempts to “sell” me on the idea of purchasing a subscription to the enclosed newsletter. In one attempt, the author explained how he thought sending me the free issue was “a smart bet.” In the other, he tried social proof by telling me how he figured I would agree with thousands of my colleagues that his newsletter was “a smart investment.” Finally, in the postscript of the letter, the author gave me his e-mail address and asked me to let him know what I thought. (I told him exactly what I thought. But for some reason, I haven’t heard back.)

If anything in your letter is perceived as a lie by your prospects (and it’s their perceptions that count), you may as well save the postage and not send it at all.

Mistake 4: Thinking Your Prospects Give A Hoot About You

How many times have you opened a cold-letter and read the opening sentence, “I’m writing to tell you about my company”? I’ve been in business for 40+ years, and in that time I’ve received countless cold-letters for accounting services, computer technology services, janitorial services, real estate services, and, yes, even sales consulting services – most of which started exactly that way.

Why in the world should I care about your company? Isn’t it your job to care about mine? Aren’t you selling your product or service so something at my company can get better? Isn’t your service designed to improve something around here? Who are you to expect me to drop everything I’m doing to learn about your company? If I did that every time a salesperson requested it, I’d never have time to care about mine.

Those are thoughts that flash through my head when I see that subject in a letter. Generally, decision-makers don’t give a hoot about you or your company, and offering to tell them about your company will almost always result in crumple and toss.

Mistake 5: Confusing Your Prospects

Industry jargon, acronyms, buzzwords and marketing “superfluff,” or anything that is written to impress instead of to prove you can produce a result, will do nothing more than confuse your prospects and result in crumple and toss.

Busy people want to read clear and simple messages, especially when they’re opening the mail. Use the writing ability you’ve developed to keep your cold-letters simple – which is what your prospects want.

Mistake 6: Making False Promises To Your Prospects

Unlike in the legal system, where you’re innocent until proven guilty, in cold-letter marketing, you’re “guilty” until you prove otherwise. From the moment a prospect opens your letter, he or she will subconsciously believe, “This salesperson is going to promise me something he can’t deliver.”

To crumple and toss, you must eliminate everything from your letter that the prospect will see as an exaggeration of success, or a promise that can’t be met. And remember, it’s the prospect’s perception that counts, not yours.

Mistake 7: Being Impersonal With Your Prospects

Salespeople often forget that opening a letter and reading a letter are highly personal experiences – both tactile and audible. The recipient feels the weight of the unopened letter, and experiences the physical sensations of tearing it open and reaching in for the contents. (Who among us doesn’t enjoy ripping the zip-strip on a FedEx package?) And then there’s the anticipation – like opening a box of Cracker Jack and digging to the bottom for the prize, or opening a birthday card to see how much money is inside.

Granted, these experiences are subtle, but why reverse their positive impacts completely by starting your letter with “Dear Executive” or “Dear IT Manager”?

Impersonal letters create impersonal reactions. What could be more impersonal than crumple and toss?

Mistake 8: Sending Your Prospects Poorly Written Material

My copyeditor wife, Cindy, spent years trying to convince me that high-quality, or polished, writing is more effective than writing containing grammar and punctuation errors. While I understood her message, I maintained that the majority of people wouldn’t recognize a grammar mistake if it bit them in the butt, and that even an error or two would not negatively impact results.

Finally, Cindy said, “You’re so big on testing stuff, why not test what I’m telling you, so you’ll know one way or another?” So I wrote a cold-letter, got it as good as I possibly could and gave it to her to edit. When she was done, and after we agreed to a small wager, we sent 200 letters of my version to one set of prospects and 200 letters of her version to another – making sure there were no real differences in the two groups.

The unedited letters produced zero appointments; the copyedited version produced four, and Cindy got dinner at her favorite restaurant.

It’s true that most people will not consciously catch grammar errors, but I am convinced that grammar mistakes, formatting errors and poorly constructed sentences cause readers to subconsciously “stumble” as they read. This causes your message to be less understood, and spawns the idea that you don’t care about quality or details – all resulting in crumple and toss.

Mistake 9: Failing To Ask Your Prospects For Something

While you can rely on consistent behavioral impulses to help you in certain situations, you must understand that they can hurt you in others.

Think about what prospects actually do as they go through their piles of mail. First, they look for the fun stuff, like checks from customers. Second, they examine anything that seems important, such as a letter from “Brown, Landry & Filch,” or go through the items they expected, like the new issues of their favorite magazines. And finally, they work through the pile of uncategorized mail, which is when a pattern that can hurt you begins:

  • Open, browse, crumple and toss. 
  • Open, browse, crumple and toss. 
  • Open, browse, crumple and toss.

Unless you are lucky enough to have your letter always land on top the pile, where it may get seriously considered, you must be able to overcome the prospect’s muscle-memory notion that your letter is about to waste his or her time. Even if the prospect pauses to read a part of your letter, he or she may already be in a crumple-and-toss rhythm, and may assume yours is “just another sales letter.” You must call the prospect to action – ask for something. And, trust me, a final statement like, “If you have any questions, feel free to ask” won’t get the job done.

Mistake 10: Forgetting How Your Prospects Read

When you’re paging through your pile of mail, reading letters, brochures, postcards and other marketing material, do you read the same way as you would reading a book, or do you scan the material and read whatever catches your eye?

You have two eight-second blocks of time to convince your prospect that the rest of your letter is worth reading. So unless you position your two most compelling points where the prospect will find them while scanning (explained later in this chapter), you can bet your letter will get crumpled and tossed.

The first key to successful cold-letter marketing is avoiding the crumple and toss. So if you want your letter evaluated for the actual content, you must avoid the 10 most common crumple-and-toss mistakes.

The Envelope

The best-written marketing letter will achieve nothing if your prospect fails to open the envelope. So before you consider using cold-letters, you must create a strategy for getting past the initial crumple-and-toss impulse. (Remember, I’m talking about the first-contact letter sent to a cold prospect who doesn’t know your name, your company or anything else.)

The Visceral Decision

When a prospect is rifling through his or her mail and deciding what to open, the subconscious decision being made is “Where should I invest my available time?” If you compete for that time by putting your company name, logo, marketing messages, etc, on your envelope, then, when looking at your piece, the prospect is in effect answering the visceral question: “Does this piece of mail look more interesting than the others?” 

Suppose, for instance, that the prospect is opening mail and has 10 pieces that are completely unfamiliar. Further suppose that the prospect typically opens and reads only one third of the mail received. (Every prospect is different as to how much time he or she is willing to invest, but all try to save time wherever they can.) 

One of the lessons my father taught me about gambling was to “never bet against the odds.” Put another way, unless you have a better chance of winning than losing, don’t make the bet at all. In this example, if you compete with the other nine pieces of mail on the prospect’s desk by trying to make your envelope look more enticing than the others, there’s a 67 percent chance that you will lose that competition, because only one out of three pieces will win. However, if you choose not to enter the visual-enticement competition at all, you eliminate the chance of losing altogether.

Changing The Visceral Decision

If you don’t want to take the chance of losing the visual-enticement competition, but you still want to send your letters, then your only option is to change the contest itself, so you no longer have competitors.

Consider how the prospect’s visceral question will change if you put no identifying information – nothing visual – on the envelope at all. Instead of deciding “Does this piece of mail look more interesting than the others,” the prospect must decide “Am I capable of tossing this letter without knowing what’s inside?” So instead of competing with nine other envelopes, yours is now in a category by itself.

If you want the odds on your side, put nothing identifiable on the envelope itself – just a plain envelope with the prospect’s name, title, company and mailing address, and a return address that contains your street, city, state and ZIP.

While there are no silver-bullet answers to most sales puzzles, I think this particular answer comes as close to being a silver-bullet solution as anything ever has, because curiosity is a powerful force, making a plain envelope almost impossible to resist.

Return On Investment

Once you’ve decided to avoid fancy graphics or enticements, your next envelope decisions are style, size and delivery source. I use three basic types of envelopes in my cold-letter campaigns, with each type depending on the specific situation, the potential return on investment and the type of marketing campaign I’m conducting.

Higher-End Prospects And Unique Situations

Situation: A Fortune 100 company recently made the news when it announced a new division had been formed. A client of mine provided services specifically suited to helping new divisions define and accomplish their short-term goals, and I was creating a cold-letter strategy designed to get them in the door. I have a cold-letter campaign that has proven to be highly successful if I can get my letters read by the top executives at both the division and corporate levels. An engagement such as this represents several years of work and a huge cash-cow for my client’s company, so I decided to deploy that letter-writing system.

I’m not the only salesperson who is about to send something, and the executives’ time to evaluate new concepts is limited – virtually nonexistent, in fact. If I don’t get in quickly, their choices will be made, and my client will be left in the cold. 

This will be a single letter sent to multiple decision-makers. I must package my letter in a way that guarantees either the decision-maker or gatekeeper will open the envelope immediately.

Solution: Can you spell FedEx?

In a highly targeted marketing situation, I wouldn’t hesitate to send a half-dozen FedEx priority overnight packages to key executives, provided the letter itself had been tested and proven to work. FedEx packages always get opened, but they’re a comparatively expensive way to send letters. So consider your odds of success and the potential return on investment, before you take the risk.

Middle-Tier Prospects

Situation: Over time, I’ve gained significant knowledge about 20 companies that would potentially make great clients for my firm. I’m trying a new seven-step cold-letter campaign to get appointments with key decision-makers. During the next six months, I’ll be sending seven pieces of mail to an average of four decision-makers at each company, which is 560 pieces of mail.

I’m sending cold-letters, case studies, articles and possibly company brochures during the seven-step campaign, and I want to remain consistent in my packaging, so the prospects learn to recognize my material in their piles of mail.

Solution: While it costs a bit more, I’ll typically choose an oversized envelope based on the largest thing I’ll send in the campaign – my company brochure. So I’ll choose a 10″ by 12″ envelope and use it for all seven mailings.

When sending the initial cold-letter, I’ll put it in the envelope unfolded. It’s overkill for a one-page letter, but it keeps things consistent – and consistency is almost always better.

Lower-Tier Prospects – Mass Mailings

Situation: I’ve got a database of 500 prospects and will send them each a single-page cold-letter once per month for the next 12 months. Each letter will be different, of course, but all will be only one page.

Solution: In this case, I’ll always use a standard #10 security envelope, so the prospects can’t see through the envelope and toss without opening. (These are also a bit heavier than plain #10 envelopes, so they go through my printer better when I use mail-merge to print my prospects’ names and addresses.)

Who knew something like picking an envelope could be so complex?

How Prospects Read

So your envelope was opened, and the prospect is about to read your letter. You have, at most, 35 words you can use to grab the prospect’s attention and compel him or her to continue reading. But to be sure you accomplish your goal, you must know which 35 words the prospect is likely to read first.

In part, the answer to this question depends on the format of your letter. Since standard business letters are the most common choice, let’s examine them.

If you listened to me when I explained that copyediting is a critical component of success in cold-letter writing, you’ve chosen to use a standard business-letter format that complies with accepted copyediting rules. (The Gregg Reference Manual is a great resource for all writers, and it contains rules for formatting business letters, as well.) So, you should have the following in your letter:

  • Date Line: The date, month and year on which the letter is sent 
  • Inside Address: The prospect’s name, title, company name and address 
  • Salutation: An opening greeting like “Dear Joe” or “Dear Mr. Jones” 
  • Message: The text of the letter 
  • Complimentary Closing: A parting phrase such as “Sincerely” 
  • Writer’s Identification: Your name and title 
  • Postscript: An afterthought or additional tidbit of information appearing below the writer’s identification

For purposes of correctly placing your most important 35 words, we’re going to ignore the date line, inside address, salutation and complimentary closing, because those are merely letter components and not places for content. This leaves three significant areas: the message section containing the text of the letter, your name and title, and the postscript.

Believe it or not, while most people would guess that the message text is the first thing read, that’s actually not the case. 

When reading business letters from people they don’t know, 85 percent of readers will look first to see who sent the letter. And, in almost all of these cases, the very next thing they’ll read is the postscript, if it exists. (This statistic is something I learned from other experts. I’m convinced it’s accurate, because of the success I’ve had in using this to my advantage in cold-letter campaigns. But by all means research this to see whether someone has a study that proves the percentage either true or false.)

That means that, in 85 percent of the cases, the postscript you write will be the first 40 words read by your prospects. And, while this tidbit of information is important in its own right, it’s only half the story. Because not only will the postscript be the first thing read, it’s the only thing on the page that will almost always be read twice.

In the thousands of letters I’ve sent, I’ve found that the secret to crafting a postscript is to write one that accomplishes the following three objectives:

  1. Creates such curiosity the prospect is compelled to keep reading. (I typically do this by attempting to neutralize the most likely yeah-but response the executive will have to my main point in the message text.) 
  2. If read first, sets the stage for a call to action. If read last, confirms that action is required to achieve the result. 
  3. Makes sense to the prospect regardless of whether the postscript is read only first, twice or only last.

The following postscript is an example of one I used to secure a sales appointment with one of the largest privately held companies in St. Louis. The letter was sent to the CEO and three subordinate executives, and this was the only company I targeted with this cold-letter.

P.S. I realize that only two occurrences is not statistically significant, but since both made the same mistake, I thought you might want to take action.

“Only two occurrences” piqued the prospects’ curiosity to read the rest of my letter. The postscript also overcame the most likely yeah-but response, which I thought would be, “Good point, but it happened only twice, so it’s no big deal.” I also indicated that action was required, if the executive agreed with the message the letter conveyed.

Four letters, one appointment – not a bad return on investment!


Exercise: Postscripts

Find a cold-letter you’ve written, and create a postscript or revise the postscript to accomplish the three objectives above. Start by determining your prospects’ most likely yeah-but response to the letter contents, then address that response in a way that will generate curiosity. Finish by confirming the call to action. (If you must eliminate one component, drop the call to action.)

When you’ve created something you like, show only the postscript to your boss, a peer or a mentor, and see what he or she thinks. Ask whether it accomplishes the objectives.

As an additional exercise, start putting postscripts in your e-mail messages. They won’t get read first, but it’s good practice.


Salutation

If you received a cold-letter that started “Dear Executive” or perhaps “Dear Sir or Madam,” how would you react? The words “you don’t even know who I am” flash through my mind – and we all know what action that thought will generate.

Like I said earlier, opening and reading a letter are still very personal things, so your salutation must include the prospect’s name, or you’ll trigger a crumple-and-toss response.

As for exact format, I’ve tried several, and I consistently get better results when I use the prospect’s first name, as in “Dear Joe.” Part of this success, I’m sure, comes from my belief that, to sell to high-ranking executives, you must establish peer-to-peer relationships, and using a person’s first name is the shortest path to accomplishing that goal.

Still, whenever I tell people this during presentations, someone typically asks whether I’ll make anyone mad by being too familiar. The truth is, I have no idea, but I can say I’ve never gotten a hostile phone call as a result of using a person’s first name in a cold-letter. I may have upset some thin-skinned executives along the way, but my results with everyone else have been better, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Bottom line, however, is that this is a personal choice. I recommend you try a variety of methods – “Dear Sally,” “Dear Ms. Smith,” “Dear Sally Smith” – if for no other reason than to gain objective data upon which you can base your choice. 

Message Text

There is no guarantee that your postscript will be read first, so the first 35 words of your message text are critical – you must compel the executive to read the entire letter, so you can adequately explain the results your products or services produce. Of course, in the remaining text of your letter, you must explain those results while avoiding the crumple-and-toss mistakes. I can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to describe those results while keeping your message simple, free of confusion and focused on bottom-line issues. 

Social Proof

After reading “Selling To VITO,” by Anthony Parinello, I tried his method of letter-writing (you’ll need to read his book to learn the method), but I couldn’t get it to work. But I did find one of his concepts intriguing, and that is how he used Robert Cialdini’s weapon of influence – social proof. So I decided to combine a bit of what Parinello had to say with an innovative twist of my own, and see whether I could get something to work.

At the time I tried this combination, I was selling consulting services for Orbtech (orbtech.com). I assembled a list of 50 prospects, and put this letter in the mail.



Yes, I actually purchased 50 PowerBall tickets the morning I mailed the letters – I paper-clipped the tickets over the Orbtech logo. Following Parinello’s advice, I set up my 50 follow-up phone calls for about a week later, and spread them out over 15-minute increments. But before I had the chance to dial the phone, two executives and one gatekeeper called me to either chat or arrange a time to talk. All of them commented on both the PowerBall ticket, and on the fact that I recognized the risks they must take just to place a call to or accept a call from a salesperson.

Your prospects must take a risk to meet with you, so why not take a risk here or there in return? Add whatever innovative twists you can devise, and you’ll not only have more fun selling, you’ll probably sell more, too.


Exercise: Social Proof

In the Orbtech example, you’ll notice a testimonial from one of the company’s clients. As you learned earlier, this type of social proof is used to help executives listen to their guts when deciding whether to buy from you or, in this case, invest 30 minutes of time.

Parinello’s process is based mostly on social proof – telling your prospects about all the wonderful results you’re producing for other companies. While I didn’t achieve the results he promised by using his system as designed, I’m certain that using the social-proof concept in the Orbtech cold-letter greatly increased my results. (And I’m sure the lottery ticket didn’t hurt.)

Try adding a social-proof component to a cold letter, and see if you can’t get better results.


Playing Office Politics

In his book “The Power To Get In,” Michael A. Boylan describes how executives at larger companies – those with C-level, VP and director job titles – must play the game of office politics. And he offers great insights into how you can use the forces of office politics to ensure your letters get read. Boylan calls these forces the “Circle of Leverage,” and the concept is so elegant in its simplicity that it’s easier to explain with an example than any other way. So, in the following example, we have four executives, listed in order from most powerful position to least powerful position at the company:

  1. Bob Brown, chief executive officer (top on the totem pole) 
  2. Sally Smith, chief financial officer (answers to Bob; peer with Joe) 
  3. Joe Jones, chief operating officer (answers to Bob; peer with Sally) 
  4. Greg Gordon, VP of Marketing and Sales (answers to Sally, then Bob)

Assume for a minute that you’re going to send letters to all four, in the hopes one of them will invite you in for a chat. Most people would send the same letter to all four executives, so no executive would realize the others received the letter. In that case, you would have a chance to make your point with each executive, but by failing to recognize the power of office politics, you would be missing a golden opportunity to ensure that your letter gets read. 

What if, as shown in this letter, you changed the salutation and first line of the message in each letter so everyone knew everyone else was getting the letter too?



If you made this change, your letters would begin as follows:

  1. Dear Bob … I’m contacting you, Sally Smith, Joe Jones and Greg Gordon … 
  2. Dear Sally … I’m contacting you, Bob Brown, Joe Jones and Greg Gordon … 
  3. Dear Joe … I’m contacting you, Bob Brown, Sally Smith and Greg Gordon … 
  4. Dear Greg … I’m contacting you, Bob Brown, Sally Smith and Joe Jones …

Among these four executives, which one can safely toss your letter without worrying that the boss will ask about it? 

Bob, of course. Imagine being Sally, Joe or Greg and having Bob pop in to ask, “Hey, did you get that letter from Cathy Cameron? What did you think of it? She really looks like she knows her stuff. Get her in here next week, so we can talk.” How fast would you search through the trash for the letter? What would you do if you couldn’t find it? How would you ever explain to Bob that you thought the letter was not worth keeping?

Because you (Cathy Cameron) made sure all four decision-makers knew you were contacting them all, you created a situation where tossing your letter represented a possible mistake – a mistake that could cost credibility with the boss.

Your message, of course, must still be powerful, but, by taking the time to leverage office politics, you almost guarantee that your letters will get read.

The [Your Name Here] Sales System: Cold-Letters

I can’t predict what percentage of your prospects will respond to only snail-mail, as in the case of my brother-in-law Tom, because there are far too many variables to consider. I’m confident you’ll agree, however, that it’s worth your time to create and implement a cold-letter campaign at least once, if for no other reason than to find out for yourself whether you can make it work.

As for me, I will always have cold-letter marketing as part of my sales system, because:

  • It involves creative writing, which I enjoy. 
  • Once the process is perfected, implementation of the campaign can be easily delegated to someone else, which frees my time for other activities. 
  • It’s the most predictable hunter process I’ve ever created.

If you want to achieve success at selling, leverage your speed-writing skills and add cold-letter writing to your marketing activities.

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