Most of us have sent at least one handwritten note in our life. We know how it goes. It usually starts with “Thank you for…” and doesn’t go much deeper than that. So how do you stand out and be memorable?
Start with this. Here are five things you ought not to do:
1. Don’t Be this Guy.
“Thank you for taking the time to talk with me on the phone yesterday, busy as you are. I look forward to our meeting next Wednesday at 10am and promise to take only 15 minutes of your time.”
Notice how this could be addressed to anyone about anything? You could send this to the Pope and U2’s Bono just the same. The only specific detail is the meeting. Since calendars went digital, they’ve had an invite and scheduling tool that is far better and more useful.
The goal of a hand written followup note is to build a relationship and reduce the number of touches you will need to close the deal. Sending them handwritten reminders does not accomplish that for two reasons: one, people expect a personal note when they receive a handwritten card. Sending a handwritten reminder of your appointment is going to be disappointing, and mismanaged expectation erodes trust. Two, handwritten reminder does not mean they are going to remember to put the appointment in their calendar. Handwritten letters are about building a relationship.
If they’ve spoken to you once, you should have demonstrated that you respect their time. Don’t ruin it.
2. Hey, What’s Your Number Again?
It’s easy to remember to sign your name at the end of your note, but what will your prospect need to do if they want to call and thank you? If they are like most working people they will have to open their email, search for your email, open it, scroll to the bottom and down the rabbit hole they go.
So, just after your name at the bottom of the note, write your phone number. As a salesperson, you want to be called. You’re dying to be called so get your number in front of your prospect every chance you get! Your email might get lost, filtered or deleted. But you can bet your prospect will put that nice card on their desk, and your number couldn’t be in a better place! Plus, if you sent them a book, gift card or even running shoes, it’s that much easier to call to say thank you.
3. Gee, that was a lot of people, I’ll send Bob a Card
Consider the plight of two sales reps for competitor companies — Bad Billy and Good Gary. They both scored meetings with the same prospect’s and decision makers. After the call, Bad Billy figures he’ll cut to the chase and send the head honcho Bob a generic handwritten “thank you for your time” note. He figures this will impress the boss, and that is very important. The minions will do whatever the boss says, so he doesn’t write to others on the call.
On the other hand, Good Gary made personal notes about each of the decision makers objections. After the call, he sends each team member a thank you note. Each card has a custom elevator pitch that strengthens the arguments against their respective reservations and objections. Hint: He even used MailLift to do all the writing and mailing for him so he can focus on his other prospects.
All product features being equal, who do you think won the business?
That’s right. Billy is already down one for the month.
4. Hmm, It’s Almost End of Quarter — Time to Send Some Cards.
Sales reps are busy. They should always be busy. Sometimes this means they don’t always do the things when they should do them. There are a lot of reasons, shifting priorities, hitting quota, laziness, poor note taking, etc.
Send your notes the same day. Don’t wait to until there is a thick layer of dust on the pile of blank cards by your desk. If you are to point where you think sending this card will get them talking to you, you are way too late.
5. Yeah, We Are a Team!
Please, don’t sign off as a team. I have seen this happen numerous times where these thank you notes are part of the marketing campaign. They send a generic
Thank you for being our customer. We appreciate your business.
– The X team.
Signing as a team means a prospect isn’t important enough to be addressed by a human being. So, you can bet, they won’t think of you as one either! You’re a human, not a coin operated marketing machine. Sign your thank you letter with a name from someone in your company and make it personal.
So, With Horrible Harry of Handwritten Notes Out of the Way…
What should you write then, you ask? Here is the thing about handwritten notes — they create a greater emotional processing than digital mail. You want to make sure that you are using this medium to appeal to their emotional side. Here are few ways to do it:
- Katie Smith, a recruiter at Sparefoot suggests mailing your thank you notes overnight. You can use this tip for your super important prospects, especially the ones you just met. It shows you are kind and thoughtful.
- If you are writing this note after call with all the decision makers, your letter should touch your prospect’s hot buttons. Link your product benefits to their concerns in a short elevator pitch. As Good Gary did, make your pitch in these notes personal to each decision maker. End your note with the next steps as your call to action.
- If you’re sending a note to your prospect early in the sales process, thank them and include a personal tip for them. This could be relevant to their business or just a personal hobby. Say if they have just started golfing, call a golf club local to them and see if you can get some insider tips on local courses. Make sure you include your cell number after your name (Make it easy to say thanks).
- The Creme Brulee of hand written followup notes is offering a personal introduction to one of your clients (pre-approved) with their phone number and how they’ll help. If it isn’t an urgent problem, this is a great way to show you care, are never too busy for them, and know people that can help!
- Use P.S. tactically to highlight one thing you want them to remember when they are considering your competitors.
I bet Bad Billy never thought these tips and MailLift would leave his Rolodex in the dust.
Happy handwritten followups!
P.S. It’s your turn. What would you avoid writing in your business thank you notes?