It's a simple fact. The best way to sell anything is face-to-face.
When you're in the room with a prospect, you can probe for areas of customer interest, read body-language, sell with emotion and personality, answer objections, and most importantly, close the sale.
In the old days, the Fuller Brush Man, the Avon Lady, and other intrepid souls would make the rounds and work their magic in person, right in the prospect's living room. (As a young man, I sold door to door myself. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it taught me a lot!)
Obviously, today, marketers can't afford to have a sales force contact every single prospect personally. So we use direct mail, e-mail, advertising, etc., as proxies for a flesh and blood sales force. We must depend, as Grey Advertising used to say, on "salesmanship in print."
This means that lead generation is the name of the game. We use irresistible free offers to get people to raise their hands and only then put precious human assets in touch with them (telemarketers, regional salespeople, etc.).
But you know, sometimes you don't want to generate leads. You don't want a six-month sales cycle. What you want is an appointment. A chance to walk right into the decision-maker's office, sit down with him or her, and make your case in person!
One of the best ways to get a personal appointment with a key prospect is to send them a terrific letter which paves the way for your personal call. The letter can't be some soporific "Allow me to introduce myself" piece of junk.
You've got to really spark their interest, make a great impression, and be sure that when you call, you'll be able to make that important appointment.
Here are some ideas for creating a door-opener letter that can help make you a winner:
Don't use a #10 envelope. Go FedEx
Hey. You're not writing 600,000 people. You're contacting just a few key prospects who you want to meet personally. So make a splash by using an overnight service. That way, you'll look major league and can be 100% certain that your letter will get noticed. The guiding principle is, when you're contacting a small number of people, your cost-per-mailing can and should go up!
Consider a "dimensional" mailing
In the jargon of direct mail professionals, a dimensional mailing is a package that actually has something stuffed inside it (i.e. it has three dimensions). Often, by adding an attention-getter, you can be sure your package will get opened.
EXAMPLE: A few years ago, I wrote a "get-an-appointment" letter for Cris Parsons, a graphic designer I used to work with. The letter was sent to tech companies in Silicon Valley where Cris had his home studio. A small rock was stuffed into the envelope along with the letter. At the top of the letter, I put the headline:
"Profit-building art direction and design
are just a stone's throw away"
The letters got opened and Cris received literally dozens of appointments.
If you'd like to see the complete letter, I've posted it on my Web site at: http://www.levison.com/cris
Make sure you've got something really important to talk about
You should only try to set up an appointment when it's appropriate. Want to demo something that's really hot and will save the prospect a lot of money? Go for a one-on-one meeting. Want to discuss creating a strategic partnership that truly has upside for both of you? Shoot for the meeting. But don't try set up an appointment for some routine sales presentation. Save the big guns for when you really need them!
Start your letter with punch
Don't pussy-foot around. Get to the point. For example, I recently rolled into a get-an-appointment letter for a client like this:
I want to ask you for something extremely precious. Forty-five minutes of your time."
The letter went on to explain why such an expenditure of the CIO's valuable time made excellent sense.
Dramatize what will happen at the meeting
Don't simply say that you want to make an appointment to stop by and chat. Give it a little excitement:
"Key members of my team would like to fly to Chicago and meet with you at your corporate headquarters in July. They have created a personal briefing that will give you new insight into your competitors' technology plans . . ." Etc.
Tell them what they'll learn
The letter you write is all about proving that a meeting is worth having, so be very explicit about what information you have waiting for them. Consider using bullet points to break out the benefits.
Prepare them for your phone call
Explain that you will be calling to set up an appointment. Let them know when you will be contacting them. Make sure that if they don't answer their own phone, their gatekeeper should know you will be in touch.
The take-away message this month? Keep up your lead-generation efforts for sure. But if you ever need to meet with a truly important prospect in person, a well-written letter can be a great door opener.
If you need some copywriting help with emails, sales letters, Web copy, you name it, CLICK HERE and take a look at some samples of mine and testimonials too. Then give me a call at (415) 461-0672.
Let's go to work!