Sales Letter Surgery … Before and After …

    November 8, 2002

If you’re in an industry that relies on securing an appointment to get a sale (and even if you aren’t) this article will be of particular interest.

Lets say that over the course of the day, you send out 10 cold appointment letters, and from those 10 you end up with 1 luke warm appointment.

By tweaking certain elements of your approach it’s quite simple to double or even quadruple your responses. The elements that affect your results include:

* the quality of the list;
* how targeted your letter is to the needs of the prospect;
* the power and perceived value of the offer;
* effectiveness of follow-up phone call; and of course
* the effectiveness of the copy;

Here are some examples of winning copy approaches.

The conventional approac

A cleaning company was using a standard letter designed to act as a precursor to a phone call to secure an appointment. It wasn’t particularly effective. We decided to “spruce up” the letter so it generated a dramatic increase in responses.

Before …

This letter is all “we, we, we”. It doesn’t focus on a benefit to the reader. It doesn’t offer a point of difference or any real reason to give these people a call. What’s more, the sentences and paragraphs are long which reduces readability.

Let’s take a look …

Dear Sir:

I wish to introduce the cleaning services of Purple People Domestic Engineers. We are one of the cheapest and most experienced commercial and domestic cleaning companies in the immediate area with in excess of 25 years experience servicing the requirements of small businesses, residential customers, schools and government institutions, in cleaning of internal premises, external cleaning and grounds maintenance, on an as-needs and/or contractual basis. We have a large team of professional, loyal staff who each take pride in their job.

We would be delighted to also be of service to your company in any capacity you deem suitable, and would be pleased to provide you with a free quote. Feel free to telephone our office on (07) xxxxxxxxx to arrange a mutually convenient time.

Yours faithfully,

Jane Smallwood
Purple People Domestic Engineers

After …

Copyright 2002 Words that Sell Pty Ltd

Dear Jason: (personalised)

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me on the phone today. (build rapport) I really appreciate the courtesy. As promised, here is some information which shows how Purple People Domestic Engineers may be able to improve the standard of cleaning you are receiving — and at the same time provide you with much better VALUE-FOR-MONEY. (notice how a number of benefits were mentioned).

Paying through the nose and getting a sub-standard service … these are two common frustrations companies have when dealing with cleaning companies.

(Solve their problem in a risk free manner so it’s easy for them to do business with you) That’s why we have put in place measures which prove that ensure our clients are delighted with our service.

To start with, we have developed a “Written Performance Guarantee” which GUARANTEES you a certain standard of service. (I’ve attached a copy for you)

(What happens if you don’t perform?) If we don’t meet all of the commitments listed within the service guarantee, you don’t pay, it’s as simple as that.

Jason, here are just some of the customer testimonials which give you a first hand idea of how we perform. (We have over 100 testimonials on file and I am more than happy to show them to you when we meet).

“… above and beyond the call of duty”

“Purple People are by far the best cleaners we have ever used. They show up when they are supposed to and once they have finished the office is spotless. They often go above and beyond the call of duty attending to other tasks that aren’t even listed in their contract. I would not hesitate in recommending Purple People to anyone who is in need of an efficient, trustworthy commercial cleaning company.”

Joann Firth, BYZ Partners – Brisbane

“… absolutely delighted…”

“In our experience, when it comes to engaging cleaners, you inadvertently get what you pay for. Cheap cleaning prices mean a horrendously sloppy job. Purple People were different. Whilst they weren’t the cheapest quote, they were towards the cheapest yet the standard of service they offer is five star. I am absolutely delighted with the quality of cleaning, the attention to detail, the pro-active approach and the outstanding customer service.”

S. Chambers, Bradbury Nolan James – Brisbane

As you can see Jason, all cleaners AREN’T the same. We really do go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver outstanding value for money.

To further demonstrate that to you, I’d be delighted if you could spare just 15 minutes so we can meet and I can go through a Needs Analysis which identifies the specifics of how we can assist you. Jason, I will call you very soon to arrange that. (mentions the next step and sets the expectation for a phone call) Thanks again for taking the time to read this letter.

Kind regards,

Jane Smallwood
Purple People Domestic Engineers

P.S. Another added incentive that we offer our commercial clients is 15% off domestic cleaning so if any of your staff are in need of a domestic cleaner they benefit from special “mates rates”. (an additional incentive)

(include list of all services) Our services include:
* Commercial premises cleaning
* Rubbish removal
* Ultrasonic Vertical blind cleaning
* Grounds maintenance – mowing, pruning etc.
* External office washing (up to 2 levels)
* Carpet cleaning
* Pest control
* Domestic cleaning
* Ironing and washing


As you can see, the “after” version does 5 important things:
* starts by offering benefits and building rapport;
* identifies with a problem they’re facing;
* introduces the company and its Unique Selling Proposition;
* offers proof of its efficiency by way of testimonials;
* includes a call to action at the end.

This is a fairly standard approach with no “gimmickry” and no offers mentioned.

Here’s an approach that appeals to the curious nature of most people and also plays on a fear element. It’s an appointment setting letter for a Y2K consultant and it was wildly successful resulting in numerous appointments and sales.

(Bear in mind that this letter was sent in early 1999 right at the peak of Y2K fever) …

Copyright 2002 Words that Sell Pty Ltd

[first name] [surname]
[business name]



7 in 10 small businesses think they don’t have this problem yet 8 in 10 ARE in grave danger right NOW!

How badly will [name of business] be affected by the Year 2000 bug? Do this simple FREE test and find out.

Discover how to safeguard your profits BEFORE it’s too late! It’s surprising but many small business owners we speak with feel that the Year 2000 problem is a big business problem and it doesn’t affect the little guy. Others feel that all they need to do is upgrade their computer systems and software and everything will be apples.

[first name], the truth is alarmingly different. And that’s the reason for my letter to you today. etc. etc. etc.

..ends …

And here’s an approach that uses a visual involvement device such as modeling clay in the shape of a dollar sign to illustrate a point. Incidentally, this campaign generated a 50% appointment rate on a cold list which targeted specific industry groups.

Copyright 2002 Words that Sell Pty Ltd

Hello [[Salutation:40]]:

YES it is a piece of modeling clay attached to this letter. The reason for that is to firstly get your attention (and I hope I’ve done that) … and secondly to illustrate a very important point.

I’d like you to imagine that this piece of clay is [[Company*:25]]. You could pull the clay out of its plastic bag and fiddle with it for hours and it would either end up looking like an unrecognisable blob OR if you’re a talented sculptor, it would look exactly how you intended it to look … into a million dollar masterpiece. etc. etc.

If you have an appointment setting letter that isn’t working particularly well for you, and you think it could do with a sprucing up, we can add polish to it for as little as $AU200 (1 page). Just send an email to along with a copy of the existing letter and we’ll give you a better understanding of how we can help.

Kris Mills of Words that Sell ( ) is a top selling copywriter, trainer and author of numerous how-to guides including Proposals and Tenders (Bids) that Sell. Kris has also produced a FREE ebook entitled “11 Bid Writing Sins and How to Avoid Them”. To arrange a FREE copy, visit: