Writing Effective New Business Letters

Written by Steve Bridger

Writing Effective New Business Letters

There are many types of letters.  Letters of complaint, ‘thank- you’ letters, letters for job applications, for accepting a job offer, for resignations and so on.  These tend to be of a functional nature.  The more difficult to write are letters of introduction to a new business prospect.  Here are some suggestions to help you get past the gatekeeper and on to the desk of the person you want to contact.  Many letters are screened and placed in the bin before the letter is even fully unfolded. These suggestions will improve your chances of success.

Letters of Introduction

Writing effective contact letters will gain business. In an email-dominated world of cyber static, the incisive use of a carefully researched, accurately targeted and well constructed letter has a better chance of cutting through, especially, if the purpose and benefits of the letter are clear and compelling.

Increase your chances of success

1.    Go for quality rather than quantity and tailor your message to a selection of chosen targets

2.    Do your research – find out about your target company, their market, their competitors and their issues

3.    Identify the correct person to contact – name, title, business responsibilities.  Try to gain extra insight into the character of the person you’re contacting.  Your target may have a business or social networking page – check it out

4.    Don’t assume the most senior person is the right person for that important first approach – find out who has the influence – it may be a tier lower than you’d expect

5.    Develop a proposal to generate business for your prospect – what benefit/s can you bring to the table?

6.    Think creatively about the nature of your communication – what will make you stand out in the morning mail?

7.    Don’t combine an introduction with a full-on sales pitch – take one step at a time and get the balance of the message right

8.    Use the letter as the opening gambit – as a means to gain a meeting or advance your cause in a positive way

9.    Always follow-up – via phone or email – don’t be nervous about making the first move.  Accept failure as the price for achieving success – keep going

How to Open & Close a Letter of Introduction – Ff or Ps?

‘Yours sincerely’ is the most widely used letter sign-off; but which is the correct term to use, ‘faithfully’ or ‘sincerely’?

Here are two memory hooks to help you remember the ‘correct’ opening and closing forms - Ff & Ps.
The first ‘F’ stands for formal.  If you’re writing using a title for instance ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ either to be businesslike or simply because you just don’t know the name of the person then the second ‘f’ is for faithfully.
On the other hand if you know the person’s name use ‘Ps’ as your reminder, ‘P’ stands for Person and ‘s’ for ‘sincerely’.

Example Letter of Introduction

Notice the text delivers the message crisply on a single page of A4.  The letter opens with the ‘point’ of arranging a meeting, goes on to explain the benefits, then closes with proposed action.

Barnaby Wiggins
Business Development Manager
Wiggins Widgets
Widget House
24 Sleepy Hollow
Little Happening

Widgets and Gizmos Alliance Proposal

Dear Barnaby,

I’m writing to introduce my company, Universal Gizmos, and to request a meeting.  The aim will be to explore an alliance between our two companies for mutual benefit.

Wiggins Widgets have particular strengths in the design and marketing of innovative products for the children’s market.  Universal Gizmos has built a strong reputation for their range of products aimed at adults and have a new production facility.  An alliance would help us to break new ground in sales and marketing both at home and abroad with a united strategy.

I believe there’s a natural synergy between the quality and imagination of both our product ranges.  I enclose our latest Spring brochure and look forward to discussing the opportunities that lie ahead.

I will telephone you shortly to compare diaries and arrange a meeting.

If you’d like to get in touch as a result of this letter I can be reached on 0707 123 456

I look forward to meeting you
Yours sincerely
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Summary of Letter Writing Key Points

•    Guy had researched Barnaby’s name and title in order to speak to his correct opposite number – and having identified a person, he signed off using ‘Yours sincerely’.

•    Guy used just two first sentences to establish who was writing and what they wanted.  The closing lines repeat the request and action to be taken to arrange a meeting.

•    Guy immediately talks about the benefits of a commercial alliance.

•    By explaining his position simply and clearly, Guy added a clear purpose and improved his chances of being taken seriously.

•     Guy was not trying to sell anything.  He demonstrated his positive intentions by including the Spring brochure for information.

•    Notice that the last few sentences are not run together in paragraph form.  They have been written as separate statements to add emphasis.  The added benefit of separating these last lines makes your contact details easier to find and act upon by the recipient.

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