sales

How to write a B2B sales letter to a CEO

July 21, 2015

A CEO or director of a company has multiple roles and responsibilities when it comes to managing, building and expanding a brand or business. One of the roles includes recognizing new and innovative business solutions that can take that brand to the next level. As such, they receive countless requests for meetings, appointments and presentations from salespeople. Chances are most of them do not go past his/her PA’s desk and are discarded. This is due to the fact that it did not convey their messages from the get-go. For a CEO to perk up their interest about a sales pitch, the introductory letter needs to be precise and to-the-point.

In order to know how to write a B2B sales letter, there are some don’ts that should be avoided at all costs:

  1. Avoid writing an extremely short or long letter. Remember, a CEO only has a few seconds to pick out what they need from an introductory letter. Making it too short or vague will make them disregard not only the letter but the brand. In the same breath, a long letter (in any situation) can be easily dismissed.
  2. Avoid focusing excessively on the brand you are selling. Many sales letters, regardless of how revolutionary the product or service is, are trashed because they sound more like a praise session from the salesperson. More focus on the client is preferred.
  3. Avoid using informal language when writing an introductory sales letter, especially to a CEO. While social media and more modern approaches to sales have borne fruit, some traditional habits are still revered, like formal letters to a high-level executive.
  4. Do not insert multiple ideas or pitch introductions in the letter. It is understandable that a salesperson would like to share as much of their product or service as possible in one letter, but this will bring more confusion and end up being trashed.

When a seller is aware of what to avoid, it becomes easier to draft up a professional B2B letter to a CEO. There are some basics that need to appear on the letter, but a seller’s signature personality also needs to come forth when the CEO reads the letter.

  • Salutation: When learning how to write a B2B sales letter, the salutation is one of the things that needs to be paid attention to. In order to get it right, do a research on the company and CEO so as to know who you are addressing. Starting with "Dear Mr. /Mrs. /Ms /Dr." followed by their full name is usually the best way to go. However, to be on the safe side if unsure of the CEO’s identity or background, "Dear Sir/Madam" will do.
  • Subject line or headline: A short, powerful and precise subject line is very effective when addressing an introductory letter to a CEO. According to Retention Science, subject lines between 6 to 10 words long have a 21% open rate.
  • Seller’s Introduction: It is very key for a seller to introduce themselves, their credentials and current position as well as how relevant they are in this sales pitch should it sail through. This needs to be very short and precise, no more than one short paragraph. At this time, add some lines about the company and brand that is being offered.
  • Summarize the proposal: This is actually the meat of the introductory sales letter. It is a summary of the proposal that your company intends to pitch to the CEO and his team. Keep the proposal introduction short but precise. Where possible, use bullet points to give a neat summary.
  • Highlight the benefit of the product or service being offered: At this point, the research done about the CEO and the company that he/she is in-charge of will come in handy. Make use of emotional triggers that will make the reader get interested in the sales pitch. If the CEO is known to have some vanity about them, take advantage of this fact. When highlighting the benefits, make it more about the client and company. In this case, using regular sales terms and praising the brand should be avoided.
  • Call to Action: This is the point where you are giving an opportunity for a follow-up or booking an appointment. In this case, request for a time and date that you can call or visit the company for a meeting. Avoid being the one to set the date and time because CEOs are usually busy and their PA’s are the ones in control of their calendars. This is also the point where the seller gives their contact details so that if the CEO is interested in a follow-up, they will know how to reach the seller.
  • Sign off: When learning how to write a B2B sales letter, it is important to sign off just as respectfully as the salutation. A phrase like "looking forward to hearing from you" is acceptable in such a case. In this case, avoid ending it with "yours truly" or something as informal. Instead, use "Best Regards’", "Sincerely", or "Regards." This is where you put down your full name and title in the company you represent.

Here are some extra tips that sellers can consider when writing introductory sales letters to a CEO.

  1. Consider sending a lumpy letter, but with caution. A lumpy letter is one that has a gift or product alongside the letter. One way a seller can give an introduction of their product or service is through a sample. A DVD containing a short, catchy video of the company or branded merchandise such as a pen, notebook or calendar are an interesting idea. However, this should be done with caution so that it is not referred to as a bribe. In addition, make sure the letter is stellar and will hold its own when read.
  2. Sending a hard copy introductory B2B sales letter is still preferred. It is not just CEO’s who receive countless emails and this means that a seller’s letter, no matter how great it is, can get lost in the sea of emails received. A hard copy of a traditional letter that is either dropped off at the CEO’s office or sent via post is a good way of catching the CEO’s attention. It also makes the lumpy letter a possibility.
  3. It is alright to follow up with the CEO after a week or so. It is good to do so in case they have been out of office or were unable to read the letter for any number of reasons. A follow-up will also show that the seller is serious about working with the CEO and their company.

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