Tell us if this sounds familiar: after a promising sales meeting at your prospect’s favorite coffeehouse, you shake hands and part ways. You follow up with an email, and maybe you send along a few marketing materials that your lead requested during the meeting. You don’t hear back, so you follow up with a call — but you can’t get through.
People are busy. The leading challenge today’s salespeople face is getting in touch with prospects, says the 2018 State of Inbound report. And though email is a fantastically convenient medium for communication, it is all too easy for prospects to ignore (or miss altogether).
The average internet user gets around 147 emails a day, and deletes about half of these. Spam filters are becoming more advanced, which can make it even more difficult for your messages to get through to your prospects.
Direct Mail Is Powerful in a Digital World
But let’s reimagine that scenario above. You’ve had your sales meeting, and instead of sending an email, you send a direct mail kit to your prospect’s office. Think beyond a boring, flat mailer.
Maybe your prospect mentioned that they love Shiraz, so you send a wine and pasta dinner. Or let’s say you bonded over your shared love of gardening: send them a live plant.
You include a personalized note – this is your chance to speak directly to your prospect.
Now, you’re not just another salesperson in a spam folder. You’re a thoughtful person, because you sent something physical and memorable.
Here’s the real truth about that thoughtful gift: it is not the most important thing you can send. It it there just to get your prospect to read that personalized card.
But you’re a salesperson, not Hemingway. Don’t worry: here are PFL’s tips for writing personalized notes that get noticed and drive action.
Keep it simple.
Boomerang research states that sales messages written at a third-grade reading level “are 36% more likely to get a reply than those written at the college reading level.” This doesn’t mean you need to “dumb down” your content, however. It means you should say what you mean, and waste no time getting there. Here are a few ways to simplify your copywriting:
Use the active voice. If you’re not sure whether a sentence is active or passive, ask yourself, where is the subject? Passive sentences omit the subject doing the action. First, find the verb (the action word). Then, identify who is doing this action, and put that person or thing back into the sentence. Here are a few examples:
Passive: The paperwork is filed.
Active: I filed the paperwork.
Passive: There was a lot of enjoyment!
Active: We enjoyed ourselves!
Passive: You haven’t been forgotten.
Active: I haven’t forgotten you.
Keep sentences short and varied. Short sentences aren’t a rule of thumb when it comes to readability, but they do help. Avoid semicolons and em dashes in your sales card. Vary the structure of your sentences for better flow.
Use verbs. The best sales copywriting is direct and uses action words to inspire readers. “Give us a call,” “set up a meeting,” and even “ask me your questions” is better than dubious sentences like “I’d like to talk again soon.”
Focus on the prospect.
As a salesperson, you’re already accustomed to thinking from the buyer’s perspective. This should carry over into your personalized card, as well. Can you weave in key details from your most recent sales meeting? Show that you were listening by referencing a specific critical business issue, a detail about their location, or a hobby.
If you’re writing a longer message, avoid mentioning “our services” or “our team.” Your buyer doesn’t want to work with you, they want to get a specific result — so keep your language focused on that result. If you’re following up after a stalled deal, consider new ways to offer value and get the prospect excited about your solutions again.
When writing the salutation, think again from the buyer’s perspective. If you’ve had several conversations, a first-name salutation (“Dear Alex,” or simply, “Alex,”) is appropriate. If you’ve never met face-to-face, keep it formal (“Dear Mr. Brown”). Pay attention to cultural differences, too. If it’s your prospect’s custom to use formal salutations for all business interactions, keep it formal.
Listening to your buyer’s needs is the leading way to create a positive sales experience, according to Hubspot research, so keep this in mind at every touchpoint in your sales process.
Create a clear and easily-followed call to action.
Your call to action is the most important part of your personalized card. While the direct mail kit will catch your prospect’s eye, your written content is what will ultimately move them to action.
Choose a call-to-action that’s appropriate to your prospect’s position in your sales funnel. Here are a few examples:
- Email me
- Call me
- Use this discount code
- Visit this webpage
- Claim this offer
- Subscribe to our newsletter
- Refer a colleague
After your call-to-action, tell your prospect what next steps you’re going to take. Will you be following up by phone or email in two weeks? Will you send a letter with more information? Manage your prospect’s expectations while also giving them incentive to reach out to you first.
Another note: when opening direct mail, readers tend to look first at the salutation and then skip to the P.S. section before reading the body text. Test out putting your call to action in the P.S. to see if it increases your response rates.
Ask a question.
Asking your prospect a question is one of the easiest ways to foster a sense of participation and encourage a response. This applies to all of your communications as a salesperson, but especially your call to action. See the difference for yourself:
Statement: Let me know a good time to meet.
Question: Are you free to meet up on March 10th?
Statement: I’m happy to answer any questions you have about getting started working together.
Question: Is there anything standing in the way of us getting started working together next week?
Statement: I hope you enjoy the chocolate truffles!
Question: Do let me know — which do you think is better, the almond or coconut truffle?
When in doubt, read it aloud.
If you’re established in your sales process and confident in your conversations, imagine you’re face to face with your prospect as you jot down ideas for your card. Speak aloud and transcribe what you’ve said, then edit it.
You may also do the opposite: write out your first draft and then read it aloud — does it sound like you? Is it warm and friendly? Does it match your natural cadence and style of speech? Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your follow-up card.
One last note: keep your personalized card as succinct as possible. Aim for 100 words or less. Not only does your recipient have little time for long letters, but a long message may be a symptom of a deeper problem, like a lack of focus or uncertainty about your call to action. Apply these sales writing tips to your next direct mail kit, and you’ll see an uptick in your response rates — while also leaving a lasting impression on your future customers.