The pitfalls of writing a sales letter

It’s no easy task, putting together a letter to a prospect. You don’t know their personality or their current situation so you are making a lot of assumptions. But if you make assumptions about people and get it wrong, it can backfire. 

There are always several schools of thought on the ‘right’ approach, but in my view you should imagine yourself receiving that email and how you would respond to it.  

This was forwarded to me recently  

“Joe Bloggs our CEO asked me to introduce myself should you require any assistance with *our service* in the future. I have also signed you up for our alert service to assist with any needs you have in the future. You will not receive any junk mail or sales calls on the back of this, it is just a service offering which Joe thought you might find useful. Please do let me know if there is anything I can help with in the future.  

Have a great week,  

Fred Smith, Head of Sales” 

… which prompted the response below  

“Either he can’t be bothered to make contact – not really a worthwhile service or worth his bother – or he has some hold over you? Very bizarre marketing. Do take us off your lists” 

I imagine the intention of this letter was to suggest that the CEO had singled out some special people for contacting, and the Head of Sales was simply following up. But in this case it prompted a rather adverse reaction and the loss of a prospect.  

In summary, if the CEO is going to write to another CEO, make it properly personal i.e. from him – not a ‘messenger’. 

I recently received an email from a website company warning me that … 

“In today’s technological age, people are not searching for you in phone books anymore.” 

Well I think that particular letter must have been written about 20 years ago. Who even HAS a phone book any more? And what is ‘today’s technological age’ – that suggests the writer is still living in the dark ages. Websites have been in common use for 20 years so it’s not exactly a new trend. 

Finally, this one entitled “appropriate person at Jane Brocklebank Marketing” 

“I came across your profile on LinkedIn and given your position, wanted to get in touch as I believe you are the person responsible for marketing within Jane Brocklebank.” 

This then goes on to explain the benefits of having a website and finishes with … 

“If it makes sense to talk, what does your calendar look like? If not, who is the appropriate person to speak with one of our team?” 

I was so tempted to write back with a physical description of my calendar. This one just sounded so cheesy, and very impersonal, but was trying hard to pretend that they really had read my profile. 


  • Keep it simple – don’t try and second guess or make assumptions about your prospect 
  • Be honest – no matter how you dress it up, a sales approach is a sales approach. Don’t try and hide it with waffle 
  • Use language that you would normally use if you were speaking  
  • Don’t be shy – if you think somebody might benefit from your services, succinctly explain why 
  • Keep it short – all you need to do is gain enough interest to start a conversation. Don’t try and cover everything within one introductory email.

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