Write a business letter that gets results, is what I’d like to talk about today. Since you frequent this blog often, you know that I use the bible as my business inspiration. So you’re probably asking, “what the heck can the an ancient book tell us about how to write a business letter that gets results?”

That’s a very good question. But there is an exchange of business sales letters that is a really good example of how to do it correctly. Even by today’s standards, it would get results.

The exchange of letters is fairly long, so I’ll just paraphrase it for you here. If you want to see it in its original form, you’ll find it in your bible in book of 2 Chronicles 2, verses 3-16.

Here’s the background of the situation so you can see how the deal was shaping up. The wealthy prospect is a dude named King Solomon, and he wants to build a magnificent building, and he asks the king of a neighboring country (the supplier/salesman) for a quote on materials and labor to build the building. Solomon’s letter is in verses 3 through 10.

Solomon starts his letter by telling the salesman that he wants to purchase materials and the labor to build a building. Right from the beginning, he turns-the-tables and begins to sell the salesman on his deal, and what he wants out of it. He mentions: “My dad did business with you in the past.” But you can sense that he is saying: “I want the same terms as you gave to my dad, even though it was umpteen years ago. And if you don’t, there is no guarantee that you’ll get the business in the future.”

Then he goes into a bit of flattery. He mentions to the effect: “this is going to be such a grand building, more spectacular than anything that was ever built before. Obviously, whomever the builder he chooses is going to get a lot of fame by being associated with this project. It is going to look really good on a resume! At that point, they will be able to leverage that fame for future projects where the profit margin will be much higher. And Oh, by the way, I thought of you first…”

I love that little kicker on the end. It plays right into the salesman’s ego.

Then he further tilts the wording of the proposal so that it would favor the supplier’s company. He goes into the details bout the qualifications of the type of person he’s looking for to be the foreman on the project. And he knows that the supplier will see this and think “He’s talking exactly about my foreman, since my guy’s qualifications match this to a T.”

Solomon is baiting him pretty good.

Finally, he concludes the letter with a detailed list of what he is willing to pay for the laborers and the materials. He basically cuts the supplier a fair deal (but on the low side), but the payment to the salesman himself is stretched out over his lifetime. So the longer he lives, the better the deal becomes. It is kind of like movie actors getting their residual payments for decades after they completed the motion picture. That is where the money is.

What Can We Learn From This Business Letter?

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the response the customer gets back from the supplier. But from this first letter, what can we learn about the correct way to write a business letter?

First, there was some background research done by the customer. He did his homework and found out what kind of deals the supplier had done in the past. I remember reading a book by Donald Trump, who said that the first part of working a deal is to know the costs of the guy he was going to do business with. From this, he knew how low he could go on price and terms. And that was his starting offer; a lowball offer that he only expected would go lower. Very shrewd.

Next, to soften the blow of offering such a low payment, we see Solomon build up the ego of the supplier. As your grandmother might have told you, “flattery will get you everywhere.” Oh that is so true. It is a business secret so few people know, nor how to use correctly.

Gary May, a co-author of the book “Selling: Power New Strategies for Sales Success” says that this type of flattery is called “role projection.” You are giving the client a role to play, one that makes them look really good. Of course they are going to try to live up to the billing of that role. Their ego demands it. And now they’ve almost been challenged to not live up to it, so they’ll drop their guard and take the low-ball price just to prove you wrong.

Solomon further softens the blow of the low payment by slanting the contract to the supplier. In effect, the supplier knows that his chances of getting the deal are almost certain. He won’t have to go through the long process of competing against other suppliers. If you knew you wouldn’t have the hassles of going through the bidding process for a big contract, wouldn’t you lower your profit margins to take the deal?

Yep, that Solomon is a savvy guy. He is known for his wisdom, and the way he wrote a business letter gives us a glimpse into his thinking.

How Do You Learn What People Are Thinking, So You Can Write A Business Letter That Generates Results?

That is the million dollar question. Fortunately, there are many good references on the subject. My favorite program is called “Covert Influence: The Hidden Persuaders…” The reason I like this one is because it lists out the things that motivate people to say “YES, I’ll buy!”

There is even one tactic used by Solomon in his business letter that was very powerful and probably led to the “yes” response by the supplier. I’m using this one technique in all the business letters that I write, and I’m astounded by its success. It is just crushing to my business competitors, and it is all because they can’t cut the deals that I’ve been able to make with my suppliers. This one little tactic has produced more that 100 times the money that I paid for the “Covert Influence: The Hidden Persuaders…” program. I may not work all the time, but it works more often than not to get people to accept the terms I’m willing to pay.

Question of Today: What are your secret tips to writing good business letters?

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13 Responses to “Write A Business Letter That Gets Results”

  1. Sonya Lenzo says:

    Write as if you were talking to the person. Most people get very stiff when they start writing.
    Sonya Lenzo

  2. Rob Northrup says:

    Role Projection as described by Gary May is such an incredibly powerful technique…

    I really appreciate how you take the minute to return my calls, and you wouldn’t believe how many other people are so disorganized that it can take them days or weeks, and by then they forget.

    and if this is repeated a few times, this person will always from then forward strive to return your calls, (or answer your emails, ot whatever.

    Seize the Day,

    Simple Family Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

  3. Dale Bell says:

    You are right Solomon was a savey businessman. He knew what he wanted and set out to get it he also gave the salesman what he wanted. It was a win win.

  4. My secret tips to writing good business letters? Hey, I should use this topic in my blog too!

    I seem to generate the most success by making the letter as personal as possible—addressed to a specifc individual rather than a title holder.

    So, instead of just sending a letter to the Director of Cat Juggling at Screaming Felines.com, I’d take time to call and find out who the director of cat juggling is and then write my letter to that individual after trying to learn everything I possibly could about them.

    The Success Secrets

    P.S. No cats were juggled during the writing of this comment.

  5. I use my own personal experience as well as the statements and questions I hear from people who want my services. I have a pretty good ideal what the general “hot” buttons are.

    I once paid a copywriter with great credentials to write a sales letter for me and when I got it, it just wasn’t what I wanted to say so I edited it and made it sound like I wanted.

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT,CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

  6. Mike Norris says:

    I tell my customers I appreciate them and really want them to feel like if there is anything I can do for them I will try. Its about getting a little personal with me.


  7. Hi Tim,

    I like how you combine business and wealth wisdom from both the Bible as well as modern day cutting edge sales books like the one by Gary May.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Single Boomer Dating Expert

  8. Mike Casey says:

    Great post… it is amazing how you are relating everything to the bible. It is amazing in how many things it can teach us. I would say when writing a business let to always adress it like a relationship. Just like you wouldnt jump into things to fast with a relationship, so why would you in your business letter? keep in genuine.

    Mike Casey

  9. Mark says:

    I really like your concept of ‘role projection’ it sounds like what we call expectation edification in our industry.
    As for your question, I haven’t had enough experience in writing business letters. I prefer face to face or over the phone… most of my business writing I guess is after the deal is done, thank you notes and relational correspondence… Like the nuggets you pulled from the Temple construction!

    Direct Selling Advice, Leveraging Relationships for Long-term Profit

  10. Anytime you want to sell something to someone you must first know what they need or know how to make them want what you have to offer. I like to look at writing an ad as “what would I want out of this product”, “What makes it cool for me”, and “what kind of attention would it draw”? King Solomon was a “smart dude” as you put it.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    Now go implement!

  11. Great post on writing a successful business letter with advice from an unexpected source.

    Steve Chambers
    Body Language Expert

  12. I would also say making the letter seem personal, even if it is going to be used over and over. Doing your homework and getting to know your potential customer is key.

    Fun and Free Activities

  13. Isn’t Gary May fabulous! I had never heard of role projection. Gary May – There’s a guy who listened, learned, and applied every bit of knowledge he took in and it led him to success. He is quite impressive.

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies