For Best Results, Start at the Top, Part 2

Step 3: Knowledge is power, so do your homework

When you write a letter to aVITO, make sure it has impact. Impact means the letter has to “grab”theVITO the moment it is read. If it is a public company, you can request an annual report or even buy a share of stock and attend a sales meeting.

Talk to the sales reps and find out the company’s most important products, competitors and almost everything else you want to know. You may also want to visit the library to check Who’s Who for a bio of theVITO, and todo a quick review of the popular business press. If there was an article about the company or on the VITO in Business Week last month, you don’t want to contact theVITO without reading it first.

Step 4: Write the headline statement

This letter to theVITO may be different from any letter you’ve ever written, but you are not unfamiliar with the format. You’ve seen it before in many direct marketing letters. Have you noticed how they often begin with a headline statement? And you read it, don’t you?You figure that you only have about 10 seconds to lose, and maybe moreto gain. If the headline intrigues you, you will read on.

How can you make your headline statement enticing? First, make it concise and hard-hitting. It should be no more than 30 words long. Second, use specific, quantifiable information to describe the benefits theVITO and thecompany will get from doing business with you. Third, reference a specific time frame (i.e., “I will contact you next week to follow up.”). Finally, make it specific to theVITO’s industry, and the key word here is “specific.” The VITO isn’t interested in vague promises; VITO is interested in results. Make sure this is included in the heading. For example, don’t say, “Many studies show that corporate wellness pays benefits.” Instead say, “General Widgets got a return of $3 for every $1 invested in its corporate wellness program.” Even better: “We helped General Widgets to make $3 for every $1 invested. Could your company benefit from a similar investment?”

Step 5: Write the rest of the letter

Write the rest of the letter, and end with an “action P. S.”For example, “P.S. I’ll call your office at 9:00 a.m on Thursday, November 29th. If you won’t be in, or if I’ve chosen an inconvenient time, please have Sydney let me know when would bea good time to make the call.” Note that you need to refer to theVITO’s assistant by name. This point is important, since”Sydney” will decide on the fate of your letter. The assistant will be so impressed that you took the time to understand their role in the organization, that you will have a better chance at gettingyour appointment booked. Also, note that you are making a commitment to call theVITO at a specific time and a specific date. Make sure that you do this.

The rest of the letter should contain a transitional paragraph that ties into your headline, followed by three bullet points stating quantifiable benefits. For example: “We helped dozens of companies reduce their healthcare costs, improve employee morale and reducesick time by 24 percent.”

These action steps can make it possible for you to present the benefits of your programs to the person at the top.

A final note: Some of you may be asking, “But what about Eugenia Resource? Isn’t she going to be upset if Joe goes over her head?”

No, not if Joe includes her in the discussions with theVITO. Eugenia is going to be implementing the program, and if Joe is smart, he will make Eugenia a hero in theVITO’s eyes by indicating how valuable Eugenia’s assistance has been and will be.