You are on page 1of 30

1.

BUSINESS COMMUNICATION

Content - Module 1 - Written Communication


- Module 2 – Oral Communication
Structure – Section A Introduction
- Section B Study

Written Communication

1. The layout and style of a business letter (p. 15)

- Style of a business letter – block style


- semi block style
- indented style
- British style
- American Style
- Elements a business letter should contain – reference
- clarity
- brevity
- timing
- accuracy
- Content of a business letter

- Cross cultural communication


2. TYPES OF BUSINESS LETTERS

1. What kind of letters would a business person need to write as to

communicate successfully in the business world?


- in-company letters: reports, memos
- company to company letters: advertisement, enquiry, offer,
order, complaint, credit letters; e-mails and fax facilities,
thank-you letters, invitation and recommendation letters,
letters of introduction.
2. Which will be the politically correct level of formality in a
business letter?

THE REPORT
- results of some research
- interpretation of data
- will include: - person/s to whom it is addressed (to)
- sender (from)
- date
- title
- introduction
- body
- recommendations/proposals

THE MEMO
- meant to be known by a certain person/group of persons
from the company
- contains – the name/s of the person/s to whom it is
addressed (to)
- the name of the sending person (from)
- a subject line
- the date
- a reference line
- the body of the memo/ the message as such

Rules for writing business letters


1. Write down your aim. What is the purpose of your letter?
2. Assemble all the relevant documents and information: copies of

previous correspondence, reports, figures etc.


3. Arrange the points in order of importance. Decide which points
are irrelevant and can be left out. Make rough notes.
4. Write an outline in note form. Check it considering the following:
- Have you left any important points out?
- Can the order of presentation be made clearer?
- Have you included anything that is not relevant?
5. Write a first draft leaving plenty of space for changes and
revisions.
6. Revise your first draft by considering the following:
- Does it cover all the essential points?
- Is the information relevant, correct and complete?
- Are the grammar, punctuation and spelling correct?
- Does it look attractive?
- Does it sound natural and sincere?
- Is it clear, concise and courteous?
- Will it give the reader the right impression?
- Is it the kind of letter you would like to receive yourself?
3. COMPANY TO COMPANY LETTERS
a. the advertisement letter
b. the inquiry letter
c. the offer letter
d. the order letter
e. the complaint letter
f. the letter of credit
g. e-mail and fax facilities
h. miscellaneous - thank-you letter
- invitation to a reception
- recommendation letter
- letter of introduction

Cross cultural communication


- the people’s proficiency in informal idiomatic English might
not be very high
- differences between different varieties of English (see The
English Language Today- Perception, Varieties and
Acquisition, Luminita Andrei, Ed. Universitas XXI, Iasi,
2005 p. 61-66; 80- 81; 97- 104)
- false friends: rentability, library, actually

a. The Advertisement Letter


- to meet the needs of your potential customers
- warm tone
- common sense discourse/high degree of formality
- parts of the letter – opening: We are/I am writing to inform
you about our products
- body: Please, visit us, we are sure you
will find our products/services satisfactory
- closing: Hoping in a prompt reply and
future collaboration.
Looking forward to your visit.
Yours sincerely/ Yours faithfully/ Truly yours

Sales Letter and Direct Mail Letter Comparison

- A sales letter is similar to a direct mail letter. Both seek to


accomplish the following:

- Generate sales by giving a prospect as many persuasive


reasons to buy as possible.

- Educate and inform potential customers about your company


and your products and services.

- Solicit a response from the prospect fill out an order form,


make an appointment, dial an 800 number.

Despite similarities, a sales letter is different from a direct mail


letter in these important ways:
- A direct mail letter is almost always a component of a mass
mailing, whereas a sales letter is not. A sales letter can be
aimed at as few as one or two prospects.

- A sales letter is a more personalized form of communication.


Sales people often use sales letters to follow-up with prospects
after an initial meeting or telephone contact has been made.

- A direct mail letter aims for immediate sales action on the


part of the prospect, but a sales letter often attempts to lay the
groundwork for future sales by assisting in establishing a
relationship with the prospect.

Businesses That Use Sales Letters

- If you are selling a relatively inexpensive product or service,


such as a magazine subscription or a carpet cleaning service, a
direct mail letter is an appropriate marketing tool. With
relatively inexpensive products you can motivate your
customers to take immediate action, such as use a coupon or fill
out an order form.

- The more expensive your product or service however, the


more personalized your sales efforts need to be to overcome a
prospect's sense of risk. If you're selling costly medical
products to a hospital for example, you will have to convince
the administrators to invest a considerable amount of money in
your company. Plus, you may need to establish purchase and
payment plans and will have to become actively involved in
solving any problems that may arise from use of your products.
A sales letter would begin this process for you, not generate an
immediate sale.

PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A SALES LETTER

Plan

- Understand your prospect.

- Think about your potential customers. What do they care


about? How can your product or service fill a need for them?
Write down your prospect's wants and needs:

- Suppose you are a long distance phone company and have


had great success in reaching the general consumer market.
Now, you're looking to grow your business by providing long
distance telephone services to small companies who generate
sales through 800 telephone orders. One of the companies
you're targeting is a clothing wholesaler. Like most small
businesses, cost will be a major factor in whether or not you
can sell your service. Dependable products and services will be
another major factor because if the phone lines go down, no
business can be generated. Cost and quality are the most
obvious product attributes your potential customers are looking
for.

- Understanding other specifics about how your target market


operates their business is important as well. For example:
- when are their peak times of business
during the day, seasonally?
- how much of their sales occur over the
phone?
- where are their customers located?
The better you know them, the better you will be able to meet
their specific needs.

- Understand the difference between your product's features


and benefits. After you have a solid working knowledge of your
potential customer's wants and needs, you must communicate
how your product or service will meet them.

- It's important for you to distinguish your product's or


service's features from its benefits. While features are valuable
and can certainly enhance your product, benefits are what
motivate people to buy. Keep in mind it's benefits, not features,
that appeal to people's emotions.

- Many new sales writers tend to confuse features and benefits.


What's the difference? A feature is a characteristic of a
product or service that automatically comes with it.
For example:
- the telephone company may offer an automatic switching line
to reroute calls to another location in the case of a power
failure. That's a feature. The benefit to your customer is that
sales won't be lost. (Features become benefits when you tell the
reader in your letter what it will do for them.)

For example:
- You're the manufacturer of an anti-theft car device. Your
product is a steering wheel lock made of a new steel alloy that
cannot be cut. That's a feature. The benefit to the buyer is
added security in knowing that a thief can't saw through the
device to remove it.

- Your letter needs to communicate how your product's or


service's benefits will meet at least one basic business or
human need:
a. saving time and money
b. enhancing customer service
c. safety
d. good health
e. financial security
f. the desire for love, status, and success, and appearing
attractive to others are all examples of needs consumers
have.
- When you write your sales letter, you must communicate
what your product or service can do for the buyer that no
other product or service can do. Identifying what is most
unique, different, and helpful about your product will help you
write and direct the flow of your copy.

- Anticipate your prospect's major objections and counter


them in your sales letter. The best sales people know in
advance, mostly from experience, exactly what obstacles
they might encounter when trying to close a sale. The best
sales letters follow suit.

Example:
The long distance telephone company, for example, might
anticipate that businesses are reluctant to employ a long
distance telephone carrier they've never heard of.

Objection: "How come I never heard of you?"

Counter: "We don't spend millions of dollars in advertising


like AT&T and MCI. We choose to pass the savings along to
our customers."

Sales Letter:
Like many of our valued business accounts, you're probably
wondering why you haven't heard our name before. The answer
is simple. We don't spend millions of dollars in national
advertising like AT&T. We prefer to pass the savings along to
growing companies like yours.

Example:
Objection: "There are many anti-theft car devices on the
market. Why should I spend $100 more for yours?"

Counter: "Every other anti-theft car device can easily be


sawed through by a thief. Ours can't. Isn't peace of mind worth
another hundred dollars?"

Sales Letter:
You may think $100 is a lot more to pay for an anti-theft device.
But the truth is this $100 buys you peace of mind. Your car
cannot be stolen when you use Theft-A-Way. No other anti-theft
device guarantees that.

- If you leave your prospect with serious questions and


objections after reading your letter, it will be much harder or
even impossible, to get them to send for more information, call
you for more information, or grant you an appointment.

- Decide what your immediate objective in writing your sales


letter is. Ask yourself this question: "What do I want the
prospect to do after reading my letter?"
a. send for a sample and sales brochure,

b. call me to schedule a meeting,


c. be interested enough to take my telephone call and schedule
an appointment with me?

- You need to determine this before you begin writing because


you will need to decide what you're prepared to offer in order
to provide the reader with an incentive to act.

For example:
- if you distribute a line of hair care products to beauty salons
and you want the owner of twelve salons to meet with you,
you might offer to supply him with enough of your product
to use on customers free for a month.
- or, you could offer a special 10% introductory discount if he
agrees to distribute your line of products.

- Whatever incentive you offer, limit the time frame you will
offer it. You would let the salon owner know that the special
introductory discount is only available until August 1. This will
create a sense of urgency in his mind.

- Make sure the person you're writing your letter to is the


person who makes the decision to buy. If you're going to the
effort of trying to establish a relationship, you want it to be
with the person with the authority to make decisions. With
small companies, it's usually the owner and president. But with
larger companies, you may have to do some research. You can
call the company and try to get the information from the
receptionist: "Can you tell me the name of the person in charge
of buying long distance phone services?"

- Do Your Homework. Study other businesses' effective sales


and direct mail letters. You probably receive sales letters at
your office on a regular basis. Or, think about the vendors
whose products or services you use now or in the past.
You've probably saved their correspondence in a file.

- Find all the sample letters you can and as you study them ask
yourself the following questions:
a. Does the first paragraph grab my attention?
b. Does it relate to my business needs?
c. Is it easy or hard to put down?
d. Is it enjoyable to read?
e. What do I like best about this letter?
f. What do I dislike about it?
g. How would I improve it?
h. Does this letter make me want to buy? Why or
why not?
Headlines

- Direct mail letters commonly include headlines because they


help grab a reader's attention. Should your sales letter employ
one? It depends. If your letter is addressed to someone you've
met at a trade show or have already made contact with over
the telephone, a headline isn't appropriate.

- Remember, a sales letter endeavors to establish a


relationship. A headline will make your letter appear more like
an advertisement than a highly personal form of business
communication. People are highly likely to read a letter from a
person they know or have already met. But if you haven't
made any personal contact with your prospect, you should
consider a headline. You need to grab your prospect's attention
and induce them into reading your letter.

- Your first, or lead paragraph represents the most important


sentences of your letter because if you don't compel the reader
to read, your letter will have no impact. Your first sentence
should logically flow from the idea you created with your
headline. Professional writers often refer to the headline and
connecting lead paragraph as establishing the "hook." It's
called a hook because you must interest your reader right away
with the headline then keep them reading after the first
paragraph. The hook of your sales letter must:
- Appeal to a business need or human emotion.
- Acknowledge that you've met or spoken recently.

For example:
When we met at the Direct Marketing Trade Show last week,
Julie, I promised to get back to you with some more
information on how Island Long Distance can save your
company as much as 30% a month.

- Get to your hook quickly.

Let me begin by telling you something that will probably shock


you. A recent survey released by the American Marketing
Association indicates that the big three long distance carriers
all overcharge their customers!

- Write a few sentences that describe additional benefits to the


reader.

For Example:
Not only is our long distance service 25% less expensive than
our competitor's, we offer a rerouting system that will direct
your calls to another location in case of a power failure. This
means you'll never lose sales!
- Spell out the specific details of any special offer or a discount.

Close
Write a statement or two for each of the following points:

1. Recap benefits
2. Restate offer
3. Ask the prospect to act, or let them know what course of
action you'll be taking such as, telephoning next week to
schedule an appointment. If you want to schedule an
appointment with your prospect, don't leave it up to them to
telephone you. Indicate when you'll be contacting them, and
then make sure you follow through.
4. Add a post-script. You can use a P.S. to reinforce your offer
or benefit.

Example:
P.S. Don't forget, our free freight offer is good only through
July 1st!

Guidelines for your letter's format:


- Keep your sales letter to one or two pages.
- You shouldn't try to tell a potential customer everything
they ever wanted to know about your product in one letter.
- Consider enclosing a sales brochure in your sales letter that
provides supplemental product information.
- Single-space sentences, double-space between paragraphs,
and use one-inch margins. This not only makes your letter
look neat and professional, it also provides you more room
for your message.
- Keep paragraphs short and use bullets to highlight points
when you can. Both will help keep the pace of your letter
quick and this will encourage your prospect to keep
reading.
- Underline, bold, or italicize key points and words, such as
"no cost to you," "free," "new," "a special offer." This will
help them stand out and be noticed.

Use these key words in your sales letter:

New: People love novelty.

Save: People love to save money and time or anything with


perceived value.

Guarantee and Proven: Help eliminate feelings of risk.

Results: People want to know what the outcome will be before


they buy.

But the most important words in any sales letter are YOU and
YOUR. Most businesses want to cut their long distance bills.
Use action verbs such as save, evaluate, accomplish, improve,
and discover.

Use the active voice. Use "you spend" rather than "you are
spending." The active voice is more powerful and keeps the
pace of your letter moving quickly.

SAMPLE OF A SALES LETTER

I S L A N D
LONG DISTANCE

September 8, 200x

Julie Smythe
President
Alternative Retailing
777 Easy Way
Los Angeles, CA

YOU CAN CUT YOUR COMPANY'S LONG DISTANCE


PHONE EXPENSES BY 30%!

Dear Ms. Smythe:


It's true! Island Long Distance saves direct mail retailers just
like you as much as 30% off their monthly long distance phone
bills.

We offer the same fiber optic telephone lines that your current
service now offers, except we charge a lot less for our high
quality service. And, with Island Long Distance, you never
have to worry about lost sales due to a power or systems
failure. In the event of an emergency, our computer will
automatically reroute the calls from your 800 system to
another location of your choosing.

Maybe you're wondering why you've never heard of us. That's


because unlike AT&T and MCI, we don't spend millions of
dollars on expensive advertising campaigns. We choose to pass
this savings on to you. In fact, most of our new business is
generated the old fashioned way: our customers recommend us
to their colleagues.

But that's not all. Island Long Distance offers:


Delayed payment options during your off-peak months. As a
clothing retailer, we understand your business has peaks and
valleys, and we're prepared to help you through the valleys.
Simply choose one of our convenient payment options that's
best for your needs.

Guaranteed rates for two years. AT&T, MCI, and Sprint raise
their rates 20% every four months (those clever television
commercials sure cost a lot of money). We don't, and we'll put
it in writing.

Guaranteed satisfaction. If after using our long distance for 90


days you're not completely satisfied for any reason, we'll switch
you back to your old service free.

A FREE month of long distance to new customers.

I've enclosed a brochure that further details our state-of-the-


art rerouting system and delayed payment options. Please be
advised the free month of long distance is available only to new
customers who sign with us by July 1. You must act quickly to
take advantage of this exceptional savings opportunity.

I'd like to meet with you to discuss how Island Long Distance
can immediately begin saving you up to 30% on your monthly
long distance expense. I'll be contacting you next week to
schedule an appointment. I look forward to meeting with you
soon.
Sincerely,

Samuel Johnson
President
P.S. Don't forget, you must sign with Island Long Distance by
July 1, 200x for your free month of long distance service!

b. INQUIRY LETTER
- Generally, inquiry letters are no more than 2 or 3 pages,
typed on letterhead, signed by CEO/Board Chair. There are
solicited and unsolicited inquiry letters.

Contents and Organization


- Early in the letter, identify the purpose — to obtain help or
information (if it's a solicited letter, information about an
advertised product, service, or program).
- In an unsolicited letter, identify who you are, what you are
working on, and why you need the requested information,
and how you found out about the individual. In an
unsolicited letter, also identify the source that prompted
your inquiry, for example, a magazine advertisement.
- In the letter, list questions or information needed in a clear,
specific, and easy-to-read format. If you have quite a
number of questions, consider making a questionnaire and
including a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
- In an unsolicited letter, try to find some way to compensate
the recipient for the trouble, for example, by offering to pay
copying and mailing costs, to accept a collect call, to
acknowledge the recipient in your report, or to send him or
her a copy of your report. In a solicited letter, suggest that
the recipient send brochures or catalogs.
- In closing an unsolicited letter, express gratitude for any
help that the recipient can provide you, acknowledge the
inconvenience of your request, but do not thank the
recipient "in advance." In an unsolicited letter, tactfully
suggest to the recipient will benefit by helping you (for
example, through future purchases from the recipient's
company).

Sample 1 of a letter of inquiry

April 1, 200X

Mr. Grantmaker
CEO
Community Help Foundation
100 Main Street
Any-City, Any-State, USA

Re: Letter of Inquiry

Dear Mr. Maker:

Thank you for our recent meeting at the Community-Based


Organization Conference where you were kind enough to visit with our
staff and take the time to learn about our mission and current projects.
We thoroughly enjoyed your visit with us, and sincerely appreciate your
thoughtful attention to Neighborhood Improvement Association, Inc.
(NIA)

Your interest in NIA is a significant acknowledgment of our successful


track record of delivering superior community improvement projects
for nearly 15 years.

We are aware that the Community Help Foundation distributes a


number of grants for community improvement and development
purposes. We wish to apply for one of the Foundation's grants.

NIA has enjoyed a significant growth within the last ten years. Last
year, NIA launched five new programs, including a community day care
center, computer training center, substance abuse program, and an
alternative learning program for high school drop-outs. We delivered a
total of $15 million in community improvement projects in one year
alone; an outstanding record of achievement. Our staff has doubled in
an effort to effectively administer our new programs as well as keep
pace with our organization's growing administrative responsibilities.

I am pleased to write to you about a project that I believe will be of


interest to the Foundation. The NIA is seeking $550,000 over three years
to expand its very successful Tech Ed (Technical Education) program to
provide aggressive, hands-on computer training and alternative
education programs in our inner-city neighborhoods.

Tech Ed is a highly effective five-year-old academic enrichment


program for inner-city junior high and high school students. Formed
through a partnership between NIA, the local college and the city's
school district, the program currently has a total enrollment of 500
students, and is funded by the school district and matching HUD CD
funds which are administered by the city.

The newly expanded PUTER (People Using Tech Ed Resources)


outreach program will, utilizing the resources and leadership of Tech
Ed students, bring computer skills and knowledge to high school drop-
outs, underskilled and unemployed adults, single parents, and other
community members lacking the adequate computer skills and
educational resources needed to secure and maintain skilled jobs with
which to support themselves and their families.

We are seeking support from the Foundation to enable us to develop a


pilot PUTER program and demonstrate its soundness and effectiveness
to the Tech Ed funders, the city, community development agencies, and
local private funding sources for future funding of the long-term
program.

We ask for your partnership because of the Foundation's demonstrated


interest in alternative education and youth leadership development,
especially for those from the underrepresented minority communities.

We critically need funds to launch this sorely needed computer training


program, fund the equipment, software, and the resources of two
teachers to oversee and assist the volunteer student educators. These
equipment and support resources will constructively assist the 2,500
undereducated minority residents to be served by our new community
service program. The ethnic composition is approximately 49%
Hispanic, 39% African-American, 9% Asian-American, and 2% Other.
NIA has already raised an initial investment of more than $50,000 in
absolutely necessary computer equipment toward a computer systems,
training and services budget of more than $1 million. We have worked
hard to bridge the gap and anticipate receiving grants and donations
totaling $300,000 from private sector sources, banks, foundations and
private donors.

Despite our general fundraising efforts, our program budget is far from
balanced. Cuts in government financing continue, with more expected,
especially those affecting our clients with incomes below poverty level.

Undaunted, NIA is an organization committed to excellence, with a clear


vision and a passion for delivering outstanding results. We ask you to
work with us to capitalize on our growth and these strengths.

Over the years the Foundation has proven the effectiveness of youth
leadership development and community-based programs. The
Foundation has helped to demonstrate that community outreach
programs which are developed and managed by a community for a
community make a striking impact. With the partnership of the
Foundation, our young Tech Ed leaders will bring vital alternative
education and critically-need training skills to their neighbors, family
members and peers, and, in so doing, will effect positive change in their
own communities.

Tech Ed student teachers will serve as a model outreach volunteer corps


and for our inner-city neighborhoods throughout the country. The Tech
Ed program has attracted national attention as an innovative prototype
for academic enrichment, and has been replicated in at least four major
cities already.

The challenge at this stage is to seize the opportunity, to take the risk, to
realize an innovative, new, rewarding and productive future. With the
strength which has made NIA and the Tech Ed program what it is
today, the choice is an easy one -- help our community meet the
challenges of the 21st Century.

The need for effective computer training and education cannot be


overstated. The technical training requirements of our community are
overwhelming and mirror the needs of most other inner-city
populations. The PUTER program is ready to be launched as a national
model for all inner city community organizations everywhere for
building a future, uplifting individuals, creating self-sufficiency.

Thank you for your support and assistance to NIA, and the community
residents it serves. We look forward to your consideration of our
request and the opportunity to submit a formal proposal for your
review. We will be pleased to submit additional information at your
request. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (telephone number).

Sincerely,

Dolly Do-Good
Executive Director

Attachments: audited financial statement for the fiscal year ending


December 31, 200X, IRS 501(c)(3) designation, and 200X annual report.

Sample 2 of a letter of inquiry

- An inquiry letter is a request for information. You might


request information about available positions, the names of
people in particular departments to whom you can address
further inquiry, or an annual report or other company
literature.
- Here is a very short one
October 9, 20xx

Dear Ms. Smith:

I am interested in obtaining the name of the person who is responsible


for fund-raising in your organization. I am currently pursuing a career
in fund-raising with a nonprofit organization and would like to talk with
a successful fund-raiser in an organization such as United Services.

I will be graduating in June with a Bachelor’s degree in International


Business from the University of California, Davis, and have been a
volunteer fund-raiser on local campaigns.
I have enclosed a resume for your review. I can be reached at
student@ucdavis.edu or by telephone at (530) 75x-xxxx.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Li Chan

Attachment: Resume

Conclusion: see L. Andrei, Episodes in Business Communication, p. 41-


42.