But even if someone on Linkedin agrees to introduce you, chances are you are going to need to write an intro letter.
Every day I get emails from someone trying to partner with RingCentral or to sell something to us. And in spite of everything that has been written on the subject, they are uniformly awful. They are however absolutely necessary and very important.
So what does a good opening salvo look like? First and foremost it needs to be concise and very clear.
Nobody got time to read pages of text or to ponder about what is it that you really want. I would say no more than 200 words.
Here’s an effective blueprint:
· Intro: Let the person know where how you found them (e.g. I saw you at a conference and I liked your comments on methods of viral distribution or We share John Doe as a connection on Linkedin). Use every opportunity to make the letter feel personal (Pathos).
The following 2 sections can be flipped depending on context:
· Who are we: This will largely depend on how familiar your addressee is with your company. Two approaches that work well here are identity - based (RingCentral is the dominant cloud phone system for SMBs) or need – based (RC allows companies with mobile employees to save money and project a professional image). If you use words like dominant, rapidly growing, leading etc, use another sentence or two to back it up with. You have to be credible (Ethos).
· Opportunity: This is an answer to the question “So what’s in it for me?” I think some of the worst offenses are made in this section. Many writers simply omit it (e.g. We just told you how great we are, so you should be able to figure out why you should partner with us). Others make it way too generic and do not put themselves in the other person’s shoes (e.g. We can save you up to 75% or we can help you penetrate a $10B market. Any claims you make should be specific, personalized to your addressee and backed up by facts. Justified claims will give it logic (Logos), while personalization gives emotion (Pathos).
Finally (and very importantly)….
· What do we want: This is the call to action. This is an answer to the question “So what do you want me to do about it?” Many letters omit it, as if it were implied (e.g. By partnering with us, your company will save 20% on XYZ. Best regards.) . Others ask for unrealistic actions (e.g. Invest in us today). Keep in mind what the actual desired outcome is. It is rarely something big. It’s usually a meeting or a phone call or something along those lines. So ask for it and give your respondent a couple of options to choose from.
Here’s an example of one of the letters I use.
I found you on Linkedin. We are connected through Johe Doe. I'm reaching out because RingCentral is very interested in a partnership with ABC.
RingCentral is a Cloud PBX / Business Phone System focused on mobile users. We are the dominant player in North America (with over 250,000 businesses) and have also expanded into UK.
SMEs with 1-50 employees is the least served market segment. Because of that, it offers some of the best potential for growth. What makes RC unique is that we cracked the code on what to sell into that space and how to make it profitable. In the UK, 13.8M (59% of total employment) is in this segment. So with X% marketshare, UK alone is a roughly £YB opportunity for ABC (at £Z per user per month – which is our average). In the last year, we have proven this model with ATT in the US and Rogers in Canada (we also dramatically reduce their churn).
We would love to explore a partnership opportunity with ABC. And even if there’s no immediate opportunity to partner, it’s still worthwhile to see our solution and to talk. Please let me know whether we could set up a brief phone call. Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon both look good
(This is actually 214 words – but consistency is overratedJ).
This letter can be further improved by making it even more personal (for example, ABC is the ideal partner for RC in the UK because you are the most powerful SMB brand).
Just a few more quick tips:
· Short, clear sentences
· No link (you do not want to have your addressee navigate away from your letter). If you need to send links, just ask in your intro letter “would you like me to send you a link to our…”
· No canned language. Make it conversational. No one like a form letter.