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The lost art of letter writing

There is a familiar noise that I hear every day in my neighborhood, I believe that noise is replicated many times in millions of neighborhoods across the country. It is the sound of a postal service van delivering mail to each house as they have done for years. When I was a kid, the Mailman walked on foot house to house, delivering letters in what was, outside of the phone, the primary communication method between individuals and businesses. My how things have changed.


Today, there is a variety of communication methods other than phone and mail that seem to be changing the way people communicate. From texting to e-mail, contact with folks is more instantaneous than ever, and sometimes in a format that our grandparents would be lost using. For years, I was a volunteer high school ice hockey coach with many players passing through our program. Once, I received a text from a player before a game that read. " R U gonna B @ rink tonite?" I did not respond, and at practice later, the player asked me. "Coach, I sent you a text earlier; why did you not respond?" I said, I am sorry, I don't speak text. Rewrite it in English, and I will.


In my selling career, I had many fantastic opportunities to work on very large household named prospects. Many of these companies had been around for years and were pillars of the American economy and culture. Early in my tenure, I was given guidance by one particular sales professional. He was coming towards the end of his career and took me under his wing to show me the ropes, how to carry myself, and what it meant to be a sales professional. I would see him in his office working with pen and paper, and I would ask him what he was doing. "Writing a letter," he would say. He would have been working on the letter most of the day and explained to me how important the content was and that he wanted every word to have meaning. It would prove to be invaluable advice.


Later, as I started to work on the largest targets, I found myself with a computer writing letters but spending no less time on the process. I wanted every word, every sentence, to have an impact on the intended reader that would cause a reaction and an eventual meeting. My letters usually took a format where I would start by showing the prospect I knew who they were, what they were doing, and where there might be an opportunity. There was always a hook contained in the letter, which was something I had of value that they could use. I never wrote anything that was more than one page so as not to lose the reader's attention. To end my letters, I always gave a date and time that I would call their office. Once the letter was complete, I would sign it, place it in a hand addressed envelope, and handwrite the recipient's name and address on the envelope. The envelope was always given a stamp rather than a postmark for that added personal touch. I also allowed time for the letter to arrive, sit in their assistant's inbox for a day or two, and then make its way to the recipient's desk with even some time built in to allow for the fact that they might be traveling. It seems like lots of work, but I can tell you the results were amazing, with an almost 70% response rate over my career.

I challenge you with this. Head out to your mailbox tonight. If you happen to find, or if you have ever found, a self-addressed envelope in your mailbox, I guarantee you it is the first one you open. It has become so rare in our world today that it is almost a novelty to see one. I am not saying that there aren't other effective communication tools; there are. E-mail is a wonderful tool. Text can be effective for the right audience too. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn are wonderful social media tools that can help you in your sales efforts and provide valuable information to complete the sale. But next time you type that e-mail, maybe you will wonder if you should be writing a letter. Imagine the potential excitement of the recipient as they open your self-addressed envelope. The Art of letter writing has not been lost.


Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple industries and across the globe that include Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $300 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchants pay to accept Credit, and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces, in general, to be able to better position their products and gain share, particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at

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