How not to write a sales letter

A new year is often when businesses come back with a renewed sense of vigour and a determination to get more sales. Before you embark on your sales campaign, have a look at this case study and check you’re not making the same mistakes.

I recently received this email which is copied and pasted exactly as it appeared, except I’ve taken out company names and website links. It is a fairly typical sales letter, but I thought it would be useful to pull it apart in order to illustrate how important it is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes.


Dear XYZ Member,

As a valued XYZ Member we would love to be doing some business with you before the close of the year. We have some fantastic products with brilliant back up and offer an excellent customer service.

Please take a moment to flick through our catalogue.


There will definitely be something in our range that you will be selling on a regular basis please give us a try and put our service to the test.

We are reviewing our discount structure and pricing for the coming year and need your account with us to be active to offer you the best level of discount for 2016.

We offer extra benefits to customers over and above a normal terms please take a peek – we love satisfied customers:- 


We do dealer training days on XYZ if you would like to have a slice of this rapidly growing market please contact us for further details.

We have two representatives on the road if you would like somebody to come and see you please let us know.

We look forward to working with you during the coming weeks.

Kind Regards,


What’s wrong with that?

  • I’m not an XYZ member, and certainly not a valued one! I am on the mailing list as a supplier.
  • I don’t understand why they’d love to be doing some business with me, I’ve got no idea who they are or what they sell.
  • I don’t know what fantastic products they are talking about.
  • Why would I take a moment to flick through their catalogue – what’s in it? Will it be worth my time? Can I be bothered to look, just in case?
  • It just goes to show that you should never assume anything about the people you’re writing to.
  • There are grammatical and spelling mistakes throughout


How to fix it

It would have been better if she’d started with something like “I’m writing to you through your XYZconnection/via the XYZ mailing list. Are you in the business of (fill in the gap here)? If so, we’ve got some fantastic (fill in the gap here) equipment we’d love to talk to you about. From (descriptive text about your product) to (more descriptive text about another product), all designed with a touch of (insert compelling reason to have a look here)”

At least this way, the reader knows within the first paragraph whether this is something that is relevant to them, and if so is more likely to read on.

The first version was vague and left too many questions unanswered.



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