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Types of Letters 1

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TYPES OF LETTERS 1. Classification of general business correspondence. —The term, general business correspondence, desig nates all kinds of letters that are not direct sales let ters. Sales letters are designed to influence directly the sale of a product or service. As pointed out in Chapter I, all types of letters have some influence on sales. They differ in the degree of influence. This fact furnishes a good basis of classification. The letters that have the least direct influence on sales would represent one extreme, while those designed to effect an immediate sale of a particular product or service would represent the other. Between these ex tremes we find various types of letters, each more or less directly related to sales, and all of them directly related to the development of good-will toward the house.

The usual main divisions of a classification of cor respondence are : order, traffic, adjustment, credit and collection, buying, and selling. In addition to these there are: letters with remittances, letters concerning separate enclosures, letters of introduction, recom mendation or indorsement, letters of instruction, in terdepartmental and interhouse letters, letters of contract, letters asking, giving, and refusing informa tion, and so on.

It would be difficult to work out a logical arrange ment of all the various types of letters which would apply in all kinds of business. As a rule, incoming mail is assorted according to the official or the depart ment that ought to handle it. It is important to have a definite understanding as to which official or which department shall handle each of the various types of letters received. Often the wrong man in an organ ization handles a letter because there has been a failure to classify the incoming mail according to types and to assign each kind of letter to the official or the de partment that can best handle it. The exercise of care and judgment in classifying and assigning types of letters in any organization is highly desirable.

2. "Routine" letters.—Because many executives look letter-writing as a necessary evil and an arduous task, they are strongly tempted to apply the "let-George-do-it" principle. Consequently, very

often they fail to realize the true importance of cer tain types of letters, and intrust incompetent persons with important correspondence. Their wrong atti tude influences them also to make inefficient use of mechanical aids in writing letters, such as form letters and paragraphs.

It is true, of course, that many letters are "routine" in nature, and comparatively simple and easy to write, and that cases in which the details are funda mentally similar are frequently so numerous as to make it advisable not to dictate a different letter for each case. And yet many business houses make the mistake of cutting down the immediate expense of correspondence by the use of form letters and form paragraphs in "routine" letters.

Should any letter be considered "routine"? The idea that some letters are "routine" can hardly be reconciled with the belief that every letter is a selling letter. The correspondent s who holds the first theory will not attach the true importance to every letter that is written.

The fact that a letter seems to be only remotely or indirectly related to sales is not evidence that it does not influence sales. One might just as well say that a bookkeeper, because he is not a salesman, exerts no influence upon the salesman's work. This, of course, is not true; a bookkeeper's failure to credit the right account with a payment might easily lead to the loss of that account. The same principle holds in both cases: the great influence of indirect causes on sales. "Every letter a selling letter" involves a point of view very similar to that of the motto, "Every office man a salesman." From this standpoint, the "routine" letter does not exist. This does not mean, however, that the use of form letters and form •paragraphs should be done away with, as is later explained. But it does mean that every letter ought to be written with a full realization of its importance, that the "rou tine" letter requires as much keen selling sense on the part of the writer as the direct sales letter—often more.

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