Business Writing 2018-03-28 00:00

How Not to Write a Sales Letter

How to write a sales letter

Sales letters are excellent tools for companies to generate leads. Whether you’re strictly online only or a brick-and-mortar business, both snail mail sales letters and emails can drum up hot leads that you can convert into sales. But—and this is big—only if you get it right.

Copywriters and content marketers should hone their sales letter skills. At some point, a client may ask you to write a bona fide sales letter, prospecting email, or a landing page. They all need certain elements to convert.

There are plenty of "experts" out there who spout off how best to write a sales letter. Let’s focus on what not to do when writing your sales letter so you can avoid these common pitfalls.

  1. 1. Me, I, we, us, our
  2. 2. Spamming
  3. 3. Flowery, verbose prose
  4. 4. Boring…
  5. 5. No "ask"
  6. 6. Wrong tone
  7. 7. Errors and typos
  8. Conclusion

1. Me, I, we, us, our

If these words crop up too often in your content, you’re not focusing on the right subject. It’s hard not to tell your readers how wonderful your product or service is and about your excellent company. The key point you need to understand when constructing any lead generation or direct response piece is that readers really don’t care about you and yours. They're only interested in what’s in it for them.

Write every sentence with the you, yours, and your point of view. You want to tell readers how they’ll benefit, how their lives will be better, or how you can help them relieve some pain point. Remember, it’s all about them and what they want or need.

2. Spamming

Just because you have an email address doesn’t mean it’s a valid prospect or target. If you want to make the most of your resources, don’t fire out bulk emails to persons unknown. You’ll get a much better response when you target your emails to companies or individuals who meet your criteria for a quality lead.

Some companies use the spray technique for email marketing. They spray their emails far and wide and hope something sticks. You want a more targeted approach. Carefully cull email addresses and names, and research to find out if the company is a good fit for your product or service. For example, SaaS providers can use certain databases to learn what software a company is currently using so you only target those willing to switch to your platform.

3. Flowery, verbose prose

You might be excited by how witty and engaging your banter is, but a prospect wants your letter to get to the point immediately. If they can’t figure out in the first sentence or two what your letter or email is about, they’ll discard it. Short, sweet, and to the point—make every word count.

  1. Present what you can do for them and how they’ll benefit
  2. Who you are (the person sending the letter/email)
  3. And what they should do next (e.g. call for a consultation, schedule a demo, click a link)

Every great sales letter has a beginning (where you capture their attention), middle (where you tell readers what’s in it for them), and an end (where you tell them what the next steps are).

4. Boring…

Death to every sales letter, being boring tolls the end of your reader’s short attention span. Once you’ve lost him or her, forget about all the good bits you want them to know. While there’s nothing wrong with a template email or sales letter from which to start, take what you have and spice it up. Personalize it. Make it speak directly to your reader. Give them a reason to keep reading.

The best way is through strategic use of captivating headlines. Use headlines to lead your readers through your letter. Make sure they understand your intention from just the headlines. Many readers glance through the headlines and your P.S. at the end and call it a day.

5. No "ask"

If you don’t ask your reader to do something throughout your sales letter, they won’t know what you expect of them. Giving them plenty of opportunities to call, email, click, or some other action increases your conversion rates.

And the more options you give your readers, the more likely they are to act. Because if you don’t "ask," they’ll never respond the way you want them to.

6. Wrong tone

If you’re writing from one individual to another, a conversational tone is great. But if you’re writing B2B sales letters or emails, you want a more professional tone. And no kitschy abbreviations like you do with text messages. Idk, LOL maybe? Okay, you might not go that far, but being too casual and familiar when writing from one business to another won’t fly.

Showing your personality is a good thing, but don’t crack some off-color jokes or word things a little risqué.

7. Errors and typos

Yikes! What a horrible way to introduce yourself. Even one misspelling can cause the best sales letter to end up in the trash. Consider how you go through your email inbox. If you saw a headline with misspellings, wouldn’t you delete it? It’s obviously not professional and certainly not worth your time.

Definitely run any sales letter or email through ProWritingAid to polish it and make it perfect. And make sure you double-, even triple-check your prospect’s name, company name, and other personal information. Worst place ever for a misspelling.


As a copywriter, how well your sales letters and emails perform can result in more clients and revenue for you. Consider if each new client you get is so happy with your work, they recommend you to a friend or colleague. The theory behind compound interest can help you understand how you can exponentially grow your business by writing a few well-crafted sales letters.

Let us know in the comments below a big no-no you’ve discovered when writing sales letters.

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.