But too many of us then fall into the Willy Loman Syndrome. In Arthur Miller's drama "Death of a Salesman," Loman pitches himself, not the product.
That cult of personality, of course, doesn't close sales. From the get-go, it shuts down the sales process. The total focus has to be on the prospect.
There are standard tactics in selling to capture the prospects' total attention.
Many are intuitive. After all, as helpless infants we had to sell ourselves to caretakers in order to survive.
Some we learn in hands-on seminars such as those structured by Dale Carnegie trainers. For instance, before studying with Dale Carnegie coach, Michael Francoeur (firstname.lastname@example.org), I didn't know about "mirroring." That's the necessary process of picking up on the prospects' and organizations' branding and simulating that - smoothly.
How do you recognize that you should be shifting into a strategic sales mindset for cover letters and veering away from the cult of personality? Here are the 4 signs:
- Letter has too many references to self. Keep the pronoun "I" to a minimum. In fact, an effective selling tactic is to leverage the "we." That is, you assume the sale. You will close on this sale, be hired, and become part of the "we" team.
- The tone doesn't mirror that of the individual's or organization's identity. You might be using buttoned-down corporate rhetoric to respond to a help-wanted from a startup. Or, the reverse. You are too casual when pitching to a law firm. Its culture is usually very traditional.
- The content isn't configured to transmit simply and quickly what you can accomplish for the employer or prospect. Instead, you get lost in your professional history. Every point made should be aligned with what is needed to get the task done better than all the other applicants.
- There is no Call To Acton (CTA). That is, you are not asking for the sale. In this situation, that asking for the sale would be to push to go on to the next step. That could be to be actually hired. Recently, a busy brandname tech firm contracted for my services based on only the cover letter. Typically, though, your CTA could be stating you are looking forward to talking with them further about how you will get results.
Often cover letters are your only way to "get in-front" of those who can provide you with work. That means you have to continually monitor what is effective and what no longer motivates employers and prospects to take action.
Meanwhile, it's a dog fight out there for your cover letter not to be tossed. Usually the first screening is about eliminating as many of the 300 others who also apply.
You have to survive that and wind up the top dog. That's the selling process mandated by cover letters.
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