How to create a sales letter that gets you customers

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by Tom Watson on October 9, 2012

One of the greatest salesman to ever walk the earth once said the following “Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle“.

Elmer Wheeler coined that phrase during the 1940’s. He is a true legend to anyone who has studied the science behind writing sales letters that “sell”.

Though that time period seems like an eternity ago, his approach to sales remains as current today as it was then. So whether or not you have heard of him before, his genius has touched us all in one way or another.

Now some of you may be left wondering… What does Elmer mean when he says don’t sell the steak sell the sizzle? Well, what he’s getting at is to sell the BENEFITS of what you are offering, NOT the product itself.

For those of us in the cleaning business the “steak” is the cleaning business we own. And if you notice, far too many people who try to promote their cleaning business do nothing but try to sell the “steak” instead of the “sizzle”.

How do they do that? Well, the 2 main reasons are…

  1. They make their logo or company name the focus of the letter.
  2. They talk about themselves too much.

You now know how wrong that approach is. Remember what Elmer said? Sell the benefits! Now you must be asking what benefits are we selling in the cleaning business? Well… that’s easy!

  1. Clean bathrooms (for clean freaks)
  2. Shiny sinks and faucets (for clean freaks)
  3. Sanitized kitchen counters (for clean freaks)
  4. Corner to corner mopping  (for clean freaks)
  5. Healthy environments (for people concerned with germs)
  6. Family run company (for those who seek a “personal touch”)
  7. Covered by Workman’s Comp (for those worried about hiring a legit company)
  8. Insured & bonded staff (for those worried about hiring a legit company)
  9. Uniformed employees (for those interested in knowing “who” is cleaning)
  10. An overall cleaner office (for employers who care about their staff’s environment)

I could go on and on… but you get the idea.

To draw an analogy, when the Presidential election comes around every four years what’s the main focus? Normally it revolves around the ECONOMY right? Know why? That’s the main BENEFIT we all get! This concept of selling benefits is done to perfection by politicians!

Anyway… we now know WHY the benefits are so vital, so lets move on to the other elements of a successful sales letter. Though this is not a complete list of what’s in a sales letter, it contains the minimum required in my book…

Sales Letter Elements

  1. Headline (meant to GRAB their attention)
  2. Salutation (Dear “so and so”)
  3. Body of the letter (the “guts” of the letter)
  4. Your signature (this makes it more “personal”)
  5. Postscript (Don’t forget the “P.S.”)

Sales Letter “Headline”

Of the 5 items in the group above, the headline is widely considered the most important. Now why is that? Well, because if the headline fails to get the reader’s attention, everything that follows will not get read. It’s that simple!

Think of it this way. When you scan the pages of a newspaper, or even a website like CNN, what are you generally looking at? HEADLINES! When you find one that grabs you, you proceed to read the first few paragraphs to see what’s inside. Everything else gets DISCARDED.

Your potential customers are doing the same!

So it goes without further comment. You need a good headline! Now let’s create one from scratch. One that is compelling enough to get read, without sounding like the National Enquirer.

Money-saving cleaning services right around the corner

As you can see, this headline is crafted around the idea that your company is more affordable than the competition PLUS you are LOCAL. In the letter that follows we will DRIVE home those points to the reader.

Sales Letter Salutation

How you address the reader is very important. If you happen to know their name, then by all means USE IT. A letter that is addressed personally is better than one without, just keep in mind that it’s not the end all be all. For instance, if you knew their name then make the opening…

Dear Donald, 

If you didn’t know their name then you may want to use a more generic opening such as…

Dear Office Manager,

Dear Facilities Manager,

Dear Homeowner,

Like I mentioned a moment ago, the more personal the better. With that said many times you simply won’t know that for various reasons so don’t sweat it when you first get going.

Sales Letter Body

This is the guts of the letter and should be written as if you are speaking to just one person. For best results simply pretend for a moment you are speaking DIRECTLY to the target, as if they were in front of you.

It may go something like this…

Tired of calling your current cleaning company trying to get them to do what they said they would in the first place? You are not alone.

You could replace them with the latest “big name” franchise. I’m sure they do nice work, but they come with outrageous monthly fees (someone’s has to pay for their pretty letterhead, logo and fancy advertising).

Let me suggest a far better option.

ABC Cleaning LLC.

My name is Alice Morgan and I own the cleaning company that’s been delivering great results for local businesses like Diamond Kitchen & Doors, Merlot Winery and Smith Pediatrics.

My company is located right in your town and I would love to share with you how I can make a difference in the overall appearance of your facility.

Give me a call at 555-555-5555 to set up a meeting to discuss how ABC Cleaning can solve your problem once and for all. You can pick up the phone to learn a little more, ask a question or just say hello. The choice is yours.

Isn’t it time you discovered what many other businesses in town have already learned? That affordable, dependable and highly responsive cleaning services are available just a stones throw away.

P.S. We are currently offering 50% off our first full month of cleaning to all new customers. This won’t last long, so don’t delay. Call me at 555-555-5555 to learn more.

Sincerely,

Alice Morgan

ABC Cleaning LLC

————————————————————————-

See how it sounded  more like a personal letter than a self-promoting piece of sales literature? That was no accident! Now I don’t guarantee that sales letter will work, I will say it has all the elements of one that would.

If you noticed, I didn’t use any of the benefits we listed earlier in this post. Instead I tackled this from a different angle… AFFORDABILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY.

At the end of the day a hundred different approaches could be used.

We could have put a laser focus on clean bathrooms, and how we are able to clean them better. Or it could have been about Green Cleaning, and how safe that is. You name the benefit, a special sales letter can be crafted for it.

The Post Script (P.S.)

The end of the letter needs to have a post script. Know why? Because studies show that to be one of the most read parts of the whole letter. This also makes for a great time to drive home the reasons why the reader should contact you RIGHT NOW. Including an offer in this part is highly recommended!

Anyway… keep in mind that this letter will tend to work best if you already have a few accounts under your belt, as the goal here is to get the reader comfortable with your company by suggesting other companies have already signed on and are happy with your work.

With all that said, I’m making this letter available as a download (the link below will open another window where the file can be downloaded). I am also including a modified sales letter for the house cleaning market. Both are in OpenOffice format so you can edit them as you please. Without further ado, feel free to download and modify as needed.

Commercial Cleaning Sales Letter

Click Here To Go To Download Page (LOOK FOR FILE  #3A)

House Cleaning Sales Letter

Click Here To Go To Download Page (LOOK FOR FILE #3B)

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to our RSS feed. If you are looking for a blueprint that will show you how to start a cleaning business, then check out my Cleaning Business Start Up Guides. If you are badly in need of a first class website then take a look at my Cleaning Business Websites.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Khalid Akhtar November 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Thanks, look forward to your reply

2 Ana February 2, 2016 at 7:12 am

Very nice ideas. Many thanks for the post. You actually make all the sense. I’ll use the ideas and see if it works for me :)) thanks again

3 Sun August 18, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Thank you so much. You have truly helped me in so many ways. I had to finally drop you a line of gratitude. Well Wishes

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