"My letter of the 21st ult. brought no reply from you, but it did bring us a large number of stock orders" was the beginning of a follow-up letter that failed to get a single response from 1,200 persons. The second paragraph read as follows : I know that some orders are hard to get by mail. I wish I had the time to call on you, because I believe that within a few minutes I could convince you that our goods and prices are right. With our automatic machinery we can beat anybody else's prices, as I explained fully in my first letter.
The next paragraph asked for the reason why the first letter was not answered, and promised the pros pect a desk calendar, on the condition that he accept the seller's proposition. "It is FREE. All I want you to do is write me." That was the close of this follow-up letter, the writer of which took it for granted that the first letter had not only been read, but remembered. Now this man's third letter was the same as the first, except for the opening, and it was successful. It did not mention preceding letters, but it began like this : "Eyelets? Yes! How's this one at the price?" The sample eyelet—attached to the paper—and its price and specifications, came next. Then, "How can we do it? Listen." The writer went on from this point to talk convincingly about automatic machinery. Instead of offering to send a calendar free provided the addressee responded favor ably, he inclosed a stamped envelop containing three other small envelops, in which the prospect might send back, labeled, samples of any kind of eyelets on which he wished to have prices quoted.
As a rule, the same fundamental selling points will sell to nearly all buyers; but the big problem is to get the "readers" to read. To solve this problem it
is essential to present the proposition differently to different types of buyers. When a list of names has been classified as accurately as possible, and yet it is known that the classification is not entirely ade quate, it is sometimes advisable to adapt each letter in a follow-up series to one of the different classes.
16. Letters that aid in effecting the sale.—Letters designed to consummate a sale are not used now as much as formerly in many lines. The tendency seems to be to use general big lists of names, except when a letter can be employed successfully to find out who are the live prospects in the list. The letter secures a response rather than an order—a response that will permit the letter-writer to send selling letters in which he can take advantage of individual differences in addresses. The use of letters that find and follow individual leads is growing rapidly in many lines of business.
This is a good tendency. Fewer unsuccessful let ters are being sent out. Consequently the respect of most people for the sales letter is increasing. More letters are sent to the individual. Fewer merely pre tend to be so written, because the public in general, and especially the business public, is beginning to take considerable interest in business correspondence as one of the more important methods of competition, and therefore sincere personal worth receives more emphasis than formerly.
Sales letters are at their best when they are de signed to find or follow definite leads, usually in co operation with other means of selling.