How will you stand out from a crowd of applicants? Make your sales cover letter an unforgettable experience with these 5 proven tips.

You’re applying for a sales position, and you need to stand out. Your resume may communicate your experience, but your sales cover letter is where you sell yourself. It’s your first chance to capture attention.

Cover letters demonstrate your persuasiveness, confidence, and future value to the company. Think of it as your sales pitch. Sell yourself while building a relationship with your reader. If you sound like a wooden plank (which most people do) you’re going to walk the plank, too.

Step 1: Hook your audience with a story (or get right to the point)

What makes you keep reading a book? The first sentence, and then the next sentence, and so on. If you can’t grab your reader’s attention with the first line, you’ll have a difficult time carrying them through the rest of your cover letter.

Start off with a quick story. It doesn’t have to play out like a drama. Make it a simple, three-sentence background that illuminates something important about you (in relation to the prospective position).

The usual formula people follow: “I am sending you this letter in regards to the ____ position available at your company. I believe I am an excellent fit because…blah, blah, blah.”

It’s boring, isn’t it? It’s like the editors of Webster’s Dictionary decided to apply for a sales job.

Start off with a poignant reflection. For instance: “I started selling at the age of six by running a lemonade stand with my brother. After a few days, I noticed that when we sat at the stand, people would walk by without buying. So I found a solution: I decided to dress up in costume and hand out free samples of our “special stuff.” We made over $500 in two weeks, and I invested my share into materials for my next venture. This is how I became a salesman.”

See the difference? Stories sell.

Step 2: Give specific details about your accomplishments

Vagueness is a disease that infects most sales cover letters. It’s writing that you’ve done “many great things” for your last company and saw “years of sales success” before deciding to move on. There are no concrete details as to what—exactly—you’ve accomplished.

If you want to hold your reader’s attention, give specific details. Don’t say, “I was a top-performing salesperson on a consistent basis.” That doesn’t mean anything. Everyone else is saying that, too.

Give them an example of a challenge you overcame. Tell them about when you were faced with a problem and how you figured out a way to fix it.

For example: “Last summer, my sales manager was let go. He was in the middle of re-vamping our loyalty program, so the project was put on hold. To keep our customers happy, I asked the GM if our sales team could pitch in and finish it. I led the project and delegated all of the tasks during the four-week interim. The new loyalty program has garnered three times the amount of sign-ups and consistently outperforms last year’s numbers month-to-month.”

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Step 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s mission

Here’s where a lot of people go wrong in their sales cover letters: they talk about themselves too much. Of course, you have to promote yourself and share your accomplishments. Also, show that you’ve done your homework. Explain how you love, admire, and desire to fit into their business plan.

In the body of your pitch, there should be a moment when you transition into talking about the company (and why you would fit in so well). Show your level of knowledge with their services or products. Demonstrate that you’re not just a person looking to get hired anywhere—you want to be hired by their company.

Here are few ways to show you’ve done your homework:

  • “I’m excited that your company decided to expand into a new market last year…”
  • “The product line you developed recently was superb. I decided to buy it so I could learn more about…”
  • “My favorite aspect of your service offerings is the fact that it’s 100 percent hands-on…”

Step 4: Leverage your eagerness to make up for weak points

Most people worry that their job experience doesn’t exactly match up with the position’s requirements. Well, here’s dose of reality for you: there is no such thing as an “exact match.” Although, you need to demonstrate at least relative experience to have a shot.

Here’s a great tip for you: the fact that you don’t have “exactly” what they’re looking for works in your favor. Why? Because you have an opportunity to leverage your eagerness in spite of the short-comings.

Towards the end of your sales cover letter is a prime time to include a “concession.” It’s a moment where you humble yourself before your prospective employer. You point out the fact that your experience isn’t completely what they’re seeking, but you have something better to offer: commitment.

Here’s one way of accomplishing the message: “I imagine there are many candidates applying for this position. I want you to know that I’m dedicated to your mission, and ready to prove myself.”

Step 5: Edit everything down to the essentials (and proofread!)

You must edit your writing. This is non-negotiable. There’s nothing worse than having a blatant grammatical mistake or misspelling in your sales cover letter. It will destroy your relationship before it even begins. If you don’t have the time or attention to read through your application, why should they hire you? Hint: they won’t.

Cut out all of the junk content that isn’t needed. Your first couple of drafts will be sloppy and filled with useless information. Take a scalpel to those sentences and surgically remove them.

A few tips for catching unwanted words, misspellings, and editing mistakes:

  • Slowly read your letter out loud (this is the best way to edit).
  • Print it out on paper and go over it by hand.
  • Separate the paragraphs to view them individually.
  • Give it to at least two other people to read and comment on.

Once you’ve completed all these steps, you should be in good shape with your sales cover letter. Just remember that your letter is your sales pitch: catch their attention to stand out. Give them a concrete idea of who you are, why you want to work for them, and what you’re willing to do for the job.

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lead-managerHow will you perform once you land the sales job? Let us simplify your process. Schedule a free demo of our lead management software and turn leads into customers with less work!

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Do you have any feedback or opinions about writing an excellent cover letter? Share your expertise with us!