Anyone else find it terribly ironic that I’m the one preaching the importance of writing personalized handwritten thank you notes and now I’m writing, via a keyboard, a mass thank you to everyone who has expressed genuine interest in what my original note said? I guess that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite — please forgive me.
I’ve shared my story with thousands of commission only sales agents and interns that I’ve hired, trained and developed over the years, and I’ve always received positive feedback and interest in what my note said. However, I’d be lying if I told you that I was expecting nearly 300 emails, messages, comments, and phone calls with so many personal stories, opinions, beliefs, and genuine interest inquiring about my note. [Read my original post, “Jimmy Fallon shouldn’t be the only one writing thank you notes,” here.] To the hundreds of professionals who have taken the time to reach out and contact me: I thank you very much for your kind words and interest and I hope that my magic note lives up to all the hype I have inadvertently created.
Also see: “30 benefit pros to follow on Twitter.”
Just as you probably would have imagined, the truth is, my note isn’t very complicated — in fact, it’s actually very basic and straight forward as you’ll soon see. I can tell you from 15 years of experience, not only using it hundreds of times myself, but moreover training thousands of sales reps on how to use it, is that it’s not actually what you write in your note that matters. What does matter and allows you to book the appointment after essentially being hung-up on, is that you are literally taking the time to write it out, address the envelope, put a stamp on it, and snail-mail it. Thus, you’re not taking the easy and lazy road using email.
I truly believe there is an art and a science to every word within my magic note, so I’ve broken it down in the hope that each piece makes complete sense.
The art of my magic thank you note
Here is the note: “Dylan, I know you’re very busy and I wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for taking my call this morning. Although we weren’t able to nail down a date where I could steal 11 minutes of your time to share with you in detail how I can improve your employee benefits package at zero cost and provide you a significant payroll tax savings, I am hopeful to earn that opportunity in the near future. Our meeting would of course be of no obligation on your part as I simply want to offer you a second opinion on your health care needs and provide to you some new ideas to consider. I promise to follow-up with you this Friday, 11/6 at 2:25 p.m. — please expect and accept my call. Thanking you in advance, Eric Silverman, 443.676.0340.”
I know what you’re probably thinking: This is long and cumbersome, and I completely agree. However, I encourage you to use it nearly word-for-word, as everything in it has been carefully crafted and tweaked over the years to provide maximum impact and effect.
The science behind my magic thank you note
- “Dylan…” — I never address a prospect as “Mr./Mrs.” It’s not personable, and you’ll likely lose their attention immediately. Rather, I always start my note using only their first name.
- “… thank you for taking my call this morning” — I always hand write my note the same day as I speak to my prospect, i.e., if you speak to them in the morning, address that in your note accordingly, speak to them in the afternoon, mention that instead. The key is to subliminally jog their memory from your initial brief conversation.
- “…11 minutes” — Everyone asks for “15” or “20” minutes. To differentiate myself, I always ask for 11, 13, or 17 minutes. Use your best judgement, but I never ask for more than 17 minutes and I always use a random unique and odd number that they wouldn’t often hear from past sales professionals calling upon them soliciting other various products and services.
- “… share with you in detail how I can improve your employee benefits package at zero cost …” — Give a brief one-liner to remind them of what it is that you do and how you create value. Pro tip: Always “share,” never offer to “show.” Children are taught to “share” with others. “Share” is a soft and subtle word.
- “… I am hopeful to earn that opportunity…” — Shows respect and isn’t overly presumptuous.
- “… no obligation … offer you a second opinion on your health care needs …” — Everyone loves a second opinion that requires no obligation. This hits the quintessential “hot-button” for all business owners who are in the midst of dealing with and comprehending the complexities of HCR in the present day.
- “I promise to follow-up with you this Friday, 11/6 at 2:25 p.m. …” — How many salespeople live up to their promises? It’s crucial that you contact them at the exact date and time you “promise” or you’ll instantly lose all credibility that you are working so hard to earn. Pro tip: Never promise a stereotypical on the hour or half hour time period, i.e., 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m., rather, to stand out, choose a random unique and odd time instead. This tip will also help with follow-up because when their gatekeeper says, “Is he/she expecting your call?” — your answer should be, “Yes,” as that’s what you put in your note.
- “Thanking you in advance, Eric Silverman, 443.676.0340” — Finish your note with a simple “thank you,” your full name and your cell phone number. Your cell phone shows a personal touch. Pro tip: Include your business card and a small memorable and useful trinket for them. I was always taught to include their personal business card in a laminated luggage tag. Who else does that? Talk about standing out.
- Voicemail — Always state that “as promised,” you’re simply following up as you said you would and be sure to state the “date and time” you’re calling which should be identical to the date and time you wrote in your note. This is vital in establishing trust and how you live up to your promises. You’ll likely have to follow up over the course of many calls and voicemails. Each time though, be sure to do it the same way. What you may eventually see happen is that your prospect will pick up your call because they’re impressed with your professional persistence and how you always honor when you promise to follow up.
- The envelope — Never underestimate your note’s envelope. Of course you hand write that as well, but be sure to use a real thank you note envelope and not a standard window or letter envelope. You want your note to be noticed and get to your prospect. Pro tip: On the outside of your envelope, boldly write in capital letters: “PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL” underneath your return address and to the left of their name and address. You should usually have just enough space to write it on a diagonal slant. I always draw a line above the words and underline them as well to grab even more attention. For your return address, put your name above it, but do not include your company name. The last thing you want is the gatekeeper to open it, and by boldly writing “personal and confidential” and by not putting your company name, you typically get your note to your intended recipient, since a gatekeeper wouldn’t want to risk opening something so personal. After all, for all anyone knows, it could be a note with positive or negative remarks from an actual customer.
- The stamp matters — Help your note get noticed further by using a commemorative or unique postage stamp of some sort and not just a traditional American flag “Forever Stamp.” Pro tip: If you just had the call of all calls and/or really want to ensure that your note is received, opened, and hopefully read, do what I do: FedEx your note to your prospect. Literally hand-write your note and envelope just as described above, and drop your note in a FedEx envelope and overnight it. I don’t know about you, but I suspect you’re just like me and your prospect in that everyone seems to love getting a personal FedEx.
Greatly differentiating yourself by writing your note as described herein will ensure that you improve your appointment setting ratios by a few percentage points each time. However, don’t kid yourself — always remember that nothing is 100% and that it’s your professional and persistent follow up that will garner the most attention from your intended target and give you a higher likelihood of securing that coveted facetime with your prospect.
Planning to give this a shot? Please share your success stories with me — happy hunting!
Silverman, principal and owner of the Silverman Benefits Group, has recruited, trained and developed more than 2,000 commission sales agents, interns and broker partners over the last 15 years. Collectively, they have produced more than $60 million in annualized revenue. He was also recently selected as a 2015 Rising Star in Advising by Employee Benefit Adviser magazine. Reach him at (443) 676-0340, firstname.lastname@example.org, on LinkedIn, on Twitter @SilvermanSBG, or through his business Facebook page; facebook.com/SilvermanBenefits.
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