3 Reasons Handwritten Letters Win Sales More Business

Handwritten Letter for Sales
Example provided by MailLift

The importance of gifts and letters was a sales lesson my dad taught me when I was just a kid, rolling around with him in his car to client meetings. He’s in commercial real estate and it’s a competitive field. Hungry brokers were calling on businesses daily, hoping that today was the day some business owner was ready to buy or sell a building.

He, too, was calling. However, he took it a step further: he’d butter up gatekeepers with flowers, handwrite letters to prospects after showings, and send a hyper-personalized gift to clients after the deal. He made every call count by going the extra mile. It got him deals, referrals, and a small amount of notoriety.

I send handwritten letters too. It worked twenty years ago. I can tell you with confidence that it works even better now. It turns out personal touch and attention to detail won’t be going out of style anytime soon.

“…handwritten letters helped me earn $212,000 in business between 2014 and 2015 by assisting in new speaking gigs, co-webinar opportunities, clients, and partnerships.”

Here are three reasons handwritten letters close more business more often:

#1. Most sales people are bad at their jobs

Let me know if you’ve ever encountered this salesperson. They give you a templated pitch to get the appointment, a templated presentation during the meeting, and then send templated email follow-ups afterwards. Their CRM puts your first name in the email and the salesperson hastily throws in your logo right before the appointment.

However, if you think that “Thanks for your time {Contact.FirstName},” is the best way to follow-up with a client whose business you’re trying to win, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re just like everybody else, sending the same emails and getting the same results. At that point, it really is a numbers game. You just hope the client happens to pick you.

My dad made the same amount of calls as everybody else – he just made sure each call counted.

My goal is to communicate to the client that I am one of the 5% of sales people that are good at their jobs. I want them to feel like I’m a professional, that I care about their business, and that they’re in good hands. One of the easiest ways to do that is with follow-ups that are just slightly better than everyone else’s.

partnership letter template
When I leave a sales appointment, I immediately handwrite letters personally addressed to everyone in the room, customized to their titles and questions. There are more and more decision-makers in business these days. I’ve sent as many as four before, all of which I wrote on the way home on the Caltrain 30 minutes after the appointment.

One time I wrote a letter to the kind woman at the front desk for freeing up a conference room for us. Don’t forget them: they actually run the place.

I send letters with two-day shipping (“time kills deals” – Dad) and I assume the close. I’m not “thankful for the chance” because we will be working together. I thank them for their time, mention something that particular person said, and tell them that I’m excited to get started with them.


#2. Sales is (still) relationship-based

The value you promise to provide is what got you in the door. But step into your prospect’s shoes. Everybody promises to provide value! At this point, it’s only a promise. How many times have they heard this song and dance before, only to get burned?

I think it’s instructive to assume that every client you deal with has been burned at least twice by vendors similar to yourself. My clients have told me that previous vendors did not:

“deliver on their promises”

“care about the client’s business”

“listen to what really mattered”

“communicate enough (if at all)”

“employ experienced professionals”

#2-#5 above can easily be taken care of with a physical letter. If you don’t have a great value prop, consultative approach, and references, you probably need more help than what’s contained in this post.

ben childs appreciation card

A letter is the sign of a vendor who is focused on a lifelong partnership, rather than on a transactional exchange of money. It’s so easy to show that you care, listen, and are professional. Of course, that’s only a promise as well, but the minimal amount of effort will convey to the client that maybe, just maybe, you’re the vendor they’ve always been looking for.

I don’t know how many referrals my dad got with thoughtful hand-addressed letters and personalized gifts, but it was a lot. More than just referring an effective service, his clients were sharing a relationship with a trusted advisor.

Case in point: A company brought us on and the marketing manager told me my letters were what finally sold the team. Within a month, the marketing manager accepted a position at a different company and immediately called me. Why? She told me that she could tell that I cared and her team needed someone that they could trust after going through their last vendor.

She didn’t even wait to see the results we got at the original company! I was already a trusted advisor.


#3. I get full undivided attention

How many times a day do you get cold-emailed, retargeted to, or pre-rolled? We all know it works (we do the same!), but the hope is that you’ll get the right person, at the right time, in the right mood to even notice your ad. Yet display ads only get clicked on 0.06% of the time and 33% of internet users find them completely intolerable.

Win sales with handwritten letters
Example provided by MailLift

In 2016, a classic handwritten letter has become a novelty. It interrupts prospects’ patterns of dealing with sales reps and, for a brief moment, puts a smile on their face. When someone’s reading my letter, they’re actually reading my letter. It’s not on one of their three monitors, lost in another tab, or, most importantly, on their phone.

In that moment, there is no competitor that can match your share of voice. No email that cements your message with a multisensory experience. No phone call that’s guaranteed to brighten someone’s day.

I learned from my dad that there will always be hordes of hungry sales people out there competing for potential business. How many presentations have your prospects taken and forgotten this month? Do you think you’re the only salesperson they’re dating?

If we accept that as truth, then standing out has never been more essential or more powerful. I’m the person that follows up professionally. I’m the person that cares about the prospect. I’m the person that they remember, even after hundreds of pitches.

There’s an expression that I think is applicable here: the medium is the message. Think of it this way: I’m going to try and write as great of a message as I can in my letter. However, that message will rarely overshadow the fact that I’m sending an actual physical handwritten letter to someone. It speaks volumes to everything I’ve said in this post, regardless of what I write.

That thoughtfulness is more than I could ever say, and in that sense, the medium is the message. That message wins me more business, more often than my competitors.

If you like this guest post, you might like Josh Braun’s guest post on how Hugo Boss engages customers quickly with handwritten notes or to learn more about MailLift’s handwritten letter services.

Author: Ben Childs

Ben Childs is the President at Digital Reach, a SEO/SEM revenue-based marketing firm for B2B businesses.