I previously wrote a post on The 8 Steps to a Killer Prospecting System. Step 4 in that process deals with the use of a prospecting letter. In my business, we sent just 20 letters to Dollar Store owners every week. Then we called them the following week.
For the past 2 years I have used this system religiously. It has had 4 different types of results for me:
- It hits the trash immediately.
- They see my name on the envelope before it hits the trash.
- It is opened and read.
- It motivates the reader of the letter to call me first.
You have to assume that at least 50% of recipients are not going to read your letter. They just won’t. And that is fine. All I’m trying to do is warm up my initial cold call. When I call those who actually read it, my ratio for getting a meeting goes up.
On average, they will call me first about once a month. 70% of those calls turn into listings – that is our close rate when they call us from the letter. That is a huge number for the cost of paper and a stamp.
I want to share 2 things in the remainder of this post: why send a letter, and how to increase your open and read rate.
3 Reasons/Benefits to Sending a Prospecting Letter
- Letters warm up the cold call – This is obvious, but it works. Not only do I have a higher success rate in getting meetings with those that read the letter, it gives me something to refer to right off the bat. ”Hi Mr. Smith. I’m Bo Barron and I’m calling to follow-up on the letter I sent you last week…”
- Letters force you to follow-up with a call – How is that, you say? The letters force me to call because I tell them in the letter that I will be calling in about a week. This is built-in accountability. It gives you your first opportunity to follow through with integrity – or drop the ball.
- Letters force you to be intentional and systematic with your prospecting – This is a huge benefit for most. To send out a certain amount of letters a week means you must have your database set up. It means you are intentionally signing X number of letters a week. It means that you are planning ahead. It means that you are differentiating yourself from 95% of the rest of the brokerage community.
Now that I have covered why to send the letters, let’s discuss how to get more people to actually open and read the letter!
- Handwrite the envelope – Studies show that more people open mail that is handwritten versus printed. I generally had my assistant do it. She has much better handwriting. Once a week, 20 letters appeared on my desk. I signed them and gave them back to her. She addressed the letters and sent them. She logged into my cloud-based CRM system and scheduled the cold calls to the recipients. I made the calls. Clockwork. Simple. Effective!
- Write a scannable letter – This is a scannable blog post. I utilize simple sentences. Short paragraphs. Lists. Bullet-points. A friend of mine runs a local Packages Plus business. He was sharing with me that studies have been done on increasing the read rate of a letter. The second most likely thing that is read in a letter is bullet points. I will tell you the first in a second. Use them. That is where your most important information belongs – written in a benefit statement for the reader.
- Keep the letter short – Anything longer than a page is way too long. Three-quarters of a page is what I think is best. You have about 15 seconds of eye-ball time. After that, you lose their attention to something else. Short and simple works best.
- Talk about them – Don’t send a letter all about you. They don’t care. They care about themselves. Talk about what is happening that affects their property – their bottom line – their lives. If you don’t do this, you are wasting your time.
- Use a Postscript – That’s right – the P.S. The postscript is the single most read thing in a letter. Therefore, put the most important thing in the postscript. I suggest to you that is where you tell them you will call them. If they read nothing but the postscript, and you tell them you are going to call them, they are much more likely to then read the letter.
Most of you will not do this. Some because you are lazy. Some because you don’t know where to start. Some because you won’t pause long enough to build your database in the first place.
I challenge you to try this for 90 days. I think you will be blown away with the results.