Every sales person wants to sell more, it goes without saying. Everyday salespeople around the world are focused on selling, but without much thought to the single most important aspect of sales. Selling online, selling through email, by direct mail, selling on the phone; they all have one thing in common, The Sales Letter. Whether it be an email, your website, a postcard, your phone script, or the written page your sales letter will make or break your sales efforts. The folks who master the art will succeed and those who don't will fail.
Your sales letter needs to do just four things. First, it must grab attention; the customer needs to stop and take notice. Once you have their attention you must create interest, we want the customer to feel the need to read on. Thirdly, build desire; the customer should to be persuaded to want what you have. And finally, a call for immediate action!
I'm going to break the sales letter into eight basic parts, and all the pieces work together to make these four things happen. The sales letter is not a lengthy letter, each of these sections can be two - three sentences at most. Short and sweet is the proven tactic when writing to sell.
1. Lead In / Headline
Your lead in is where you will grab their attention. If this is weak there is no point in even writing the rest of your letter, because if you never get their attention it doesn't matter what else you have to say. A sales letter is an advertisement, think of this as your headline. There are many types of headlines that are effective:
The 'how to' headline: "How to lose 10 pounds in 10 days!"
The question: "Do you want more money?"
A special offer: "50% off our best product ever."
Guarantees: "Increase your sales 150%, Guaranteed."
There are many more types of headlines that can be effective, but the point is the same. Make it impossible for the reader to pass you over! When you are writing an email your headline is your subject line, on other marketing pieces it is the first sentence of the letter. Make it count!
2. Stimulating fact
Here we begin building interest in what you have to offer. Here you go a step further from your headline, back up your claim or offer with facts: "Did you know that 9 out of 10 people...", "The number one reason businesses can't...", "75% of consumers would rather...". This should be something that not only speaks to the customer's interest, but also builds credibility in what else you have to say. Keep it interesting and short. Uninteresting and long equals boring, and boring doesn't sell.
3. Immediate Offer
Your headline got them to say "Wow", next they said "That's interesting", and now we need them to see "Thanks a great deal". Don't waste time touting how great your product is or how amazing it will make their life, not just yet. Now it's time to drop your irresistible offer on your potential customer. This should be enough detail to let them know what they are getting and clearly what the cost is. "We are offering a 30 day membership to our most popular training program, for only $49!". Your customers have a short attention span, if you do not give them the information they are looking for very quickly, then you will lose them.
4. Huge Benefit
I've got a secret for you; No one likes to be sold anything, but if you offer someone a solution to a problem they will buy all day! You have to show the customer why they need to accept your amazing offer, by telling them how you solve a problem for them. The best way to make your sales letter stand out in the crowd is not by selling; but by offering benefits, solving problems, and easing pains for your customers. "Don't you hate when...", "Are you tired of always...", "Don't you wish...", if you're selling melons "11 Amazing benefits of melons...". Show your customer that you understand him and that you are here to help.
5. Testimonial or Supporting Information
Next you want to build some credibility for your problem solving benefit. Nothing makes an impact for your product that the words of a satisfied customer, and so a short testimonial or the results of a study will do nicely, but do not drag it on forever. Remember: Short and Sweet! If you've done your job to this point your customer is already interested, knows it is a good deal, and can see the benefit to them.
6. Call to Action
It's time to tell your customer what you want them to do with the excitement you have built in your product that solves their problem! And this is key, as much so as your headline, it must be immediate. Tell them to take action, and take it with urgency! "Call today to take advantage of this limited time offer.", "This exclusive deal is available to the first 50 customers.", "Supplied are limited, visit our website to order now!". Whatever you are trying to get your customer to do, tell them to do it. I learned very early on in my career that you only get what you ask for. If you never ask your customer to take action, they will do just that!
William Shakespeare said "Brevity is the soul of wit".
It's time to quickly thank your customer for their time and move on. A famous quote, relative to the content of your letter works well to build some more credibility and pulls everything together. Say thank you, and sign your name!
Should you use a PS after your letter? You had better believe it! The PS is often the first thing read after the headline. People like to scan down to the bottom of a letter to get to the point, so use a PS to recap your offer, your guarantee, and your urgency. "Remember, we can't continue this half price offer forever, so it's only available to the first 50 customers!"
A few tips:
Write to your customers, keep the end reader in mind and avoid using the words 'me' and 'I'. Make it personal by using "you" and "your", after all the customer doesn't care about 'you' they care about themselves. Use language and examples that your target understands and is comfortable with.
You should also write like you would speak. Use short sentences and paragraphs of 2 - 4 sentences. Grammar and sentence structure are less important than keeping your reader interested and engaged. Use bullets and lists, people love numbered lists and they love bullet points. I don't know why, but they do. This article you are reading has both!
If you use these sections, and focus on the four keys (Grab their attention, create interest, build desire, and require immediate action) you will have killer sales letters that will have customers lining up to buy what you have to sell.