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Sample Sales Letter Makeover

I have been working with The Chesapeake Center to improve their business development and proposal processes. They have been the test case for many aspects of the process recommendations that show up in this newsletter and in the CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process. They recently asked me to take a look at the draft copy for an email they were planning to send to some of their prospects. In re-writing the email, I found myself doing many of the same corrections I do to proposals, so I thought I’d share it as a sample. Here is the original draft:
 
Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services.
 
The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves, and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment, we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known.
 
I will follow up with a phone call. In the meantime, please visit our website http://ChesapeakeCenter.com or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools.
 
Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon.
 
Here are my comments in brackets (note: the subject matter/offering is not what is important — focus on the presentation):
 
Do you want the best SLP services provided to your students? [This is not a good opener. No one would say “no!” Also, it’s probably _not_ the most important concern of the buyer.]  Do you want your parents to rave about their child’s speech therapist, and tell all of their friends? Then, let us introduce ourselves. [Just do it --- don’t ask permission. That’s just adding to the word count without adding any value.]  We are The Chesapeake Center Inc. [Introduce yourself with something that matters to the reader.] We are an award-winning, highly acclaimed, nationally-known provider of pediatric speech language pathology, physical and occupational therapy services. [You need to state why this matters in order to pass the reader’s “so what?” test.]
 
The purpose of this communication is to introduce ourselves [You’ve already said that (and you didn’t need to say it the first time).], and ask for an appointment with your school. At our appointment [If you want them to invest their time you need to give them more than a promise to justify the meeting when you get there.], we will explain and explore opportunities for us to enhance your student’s experience by delivering the quality services for which we are known. [But what are they? You never said.]
 
I will follow up with a phone call.  [If you are going to call no matter what, then why was the email needed?] In the meantime, please visit our website http://ChesapeakeCenter.com or feel free to call me. It is full of information about our services, and helpful tips for parents and schools.
 
Have a great day! We look forward to meeting with you soon.
 
When I finished I realized that I needed to send them a warning that my comments were brutal. I added some humor to keep them from feeling devastated. The fact is that the original was a fairly typical example of what companies send out all the time.
Since the comments alone don’t tell you what to do to fix the draft, I put together a rewrite. This was a challenge for me since it’s not my area of technical expertise. My best qualification is having a wife who is heavily involved in the PTA. Here is the rewrite:
 
We have found a way to help Charter Schools solve two critical problems at the same time. Most schools treat SLP services as a burdensome mandate. But we have found that with quality SLP services they have a better chance of fulfilling their potential, and when they do the entire school benefits. This means that SLP services can help you meet your AYP goals and No Child Left Behind mandates. Maybe this is why The Chesapeake Center is winning awards and gaining national recognition. SLP services can be about so much more than just ensuring compliance. When done right they produce value for your school. We’d love a chance to introduce ourselves and discuss how to get the most value out of your SLP program and distinguish your charter school at the same time. We only have a few openings left on our calendar for appointments, so please call today. And in the meantime, please visit our website at http://ChesapeakeCenter.com where we have posted many helpful tips for parents and schools.
 
There are many styles for writing copy, and this more closely resembles a sales letter than a proposal. However, there are lessons to be learned about proposal writing here. I think the re-write does a decent job of providing reasons for the reader to take action. It’s not about what the vendor wants (a meeting), it’s about what the customer wants. This is the most common problem I see in proposals — people describe themselves instead of the benefit to the customer. Who is your proposal about?



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