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How to get your sales letters to really perform

There are a few industries where direct response sales letters really work. Fitness, vitamins and self improvement are good examples. Some consumers are willing to read 12-page letters about these topics, and then immediately pick up the telephone to buy.

In the financial industry, this scenario doesn't happen very frequently. Why? It comes down to the difference between what people do when they "want to buy" versus what they do when they "need to buy."

Financial planning isn't something most people get excited about buying, so in most cases they don't receive your letter and then immediately pick up the telephone. Instead they read your sales letter (if you're lucky) and then think about it for a while.

When they receive another letter from you, they think a little more, and at some point in the future, they will finally buy.

So the job of your sales letter is to make sure that when they're ready to buy, they think of you.

Effective letters are short and concise, use simple language and avoid financial jargon

Ideally divide your letter into three clear sections, broken up by subheadings for easy reading:

  1. An introduction explaining why you’re contacting the client.
  2. Your main (ideally benefit-lead) message
  3. The next steps – what you’d like your client to do and why.

Here’s an example of a new business letter from an Adviser

Seven ways to make your sales letters more effective

Here are seven ways to help you connect with your reader:

  1. Start by making a personal connection

    The beginning of your letter is the written equivalent of eye contact and a solid handshake.

    So make sure you personalise each letter - ideally with the recipient's first name.

  2. Include a clear benefit in the headline

    Outline straight away what’s in it for the reader. You can do this by:

    • tapping into core emotions
    • communicating the end benefits
    • making your message about the reader - not about you

  3. Paint a picture

    Paint a relatable picture of the reader’s problem or desired solution. You want your reader to be nodding their head in agreement as soon as they begin reading the letter.

    Use metaphors to bring your solutions to life. Many people can’t understand a solution they’ve never experienced. Metaphors help them visualize.

  4. Communicate an intriguing promise

    Now that you’ve engaged your reader, tell them how you're different.

    Don’t launch into a sales pitch. Put your message into the reader’s terms – what’s in it for

    Always remember that buyers don’t want to be sold to – they want to discover solutions for themselves.

  5. Show some proof

    Now you’ve made your promise, you’ve got to prove you can deliver.

    Show them how you work. Show them the process. Show them how straightforward it is and how they'll be in control.

    Offer proof in the form of client testimonials or short case studies.

    Make the reader believe you’ve solved other clients’ problems and you can solve theirs too. Weave proof throughout your letter. Add a sidebar or a quotation to highlight key elements.

  6. Push for response

    Finally, your sales letter needs to encourage the reader to take the next step. You’re not closing the sale – you’re closing the “next step.” There’s a huge difference.

    Very few people buy financial services when they receive a sales letter. They buy when they have a need and they think of you.

    They will think of you if they’ve interacted with your company in a variety of positive ways. The letter should convince the reader to respond to your offers.

    Once they respond, you have permission to communicate on an ongoing basis, which is the secret recipe for closing sales.

  7. Include a P.S.

    The letter's P.S. is very important.

    Research shows that many people read the P.S. before they read anything else.

    Write the P.S. as if your letter will never be read.

    Hint at the promise and sell the offer, making sure that you write in a “what’s in it for the reader” tone.

    And, keep it short and sweet – two sentences is ideal.