Who Said Postcards Don’t Work? – How One experiment Got Me 17 Appointments

Two weeks ago I was asked a very good question at a training seminar: In these times of sales 2.0 and social selling, should we still use the more traditional (offline) channels? My answer is yes. It’s a ‘both/and’, not an ‘either/or’ proposition.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in the value of social media presence and interaction for sales people, but it’s not the holy grail. Some sales experts even go as far as saying that the more conversations move online, the more powerful and effective offline conversations will become.

As I believe in numbers, I decided to test for myself. For this test I sent out 30 postcards to sales managers from local small to medium businesses. In the handwritten message on this postcard I promised them an outbound calling script with a minimum success rate of 30%.

This is the exact template I used for my postcard mailing:


Dear Mr/Ms [insert propect's name],

You will receive a free copy of the Sales Sells report on setting appointments over the phone.

In this report you will find:
- an outbound calling script that guarantees a minimum success rate of 30% (that’s one appointment for every 3 to 4 calls made);
- a list of results from sales people in different industries to which you can compare the results of your sales team.

I will call you in a couple of days to see when is the best time to hand you your copy of the Sales Sells report.

Kind regards,
Wim Wilmsen, Sales Coach


As you can see this is a very short and simple message. Three paragraphs and a lot of whitespace. This alone makes it stand out from all those long, boring marketing brochures people receive every day. After all you only have one, maybe two, seconds to grab people’s attention. The fact that it’s handwritten only increases the chances that it will actually get read.

But you’re probably wondering what my follow-up call sounded like. It was something like this:

“Good morning Mr/Ms [insert prospect's name]. Last week I sent you a postcard on which I promised to give you a free copy of the Sales Sells report on setting appointments over the phone. I wanted to know if Thursday 9 a.m. would be okay?

The results? I got no less than 17 appointments. That’s a success rate of 56%. Not bad I would say!

To make this method work it’s important to have an attractive bait. In this case the report promises a success rate of minimum 30%, which is way better than the results most sales managers are seeing from their sales team.

Key is also not to start selling on the phone. You’re calling to set the appointment, not to close the sale. These are two entirely different things. The actual sales talk takes place when you meet with the prospect:

“As I promised I have brought you a copy of the report. I will tell you all about it in a minute but I would first like to ask you a couple of questions, if that’s OK with you?”

There you go, right into the needs analysis. You see how elegant this is?

I’ve already done 6 of the sales meetings that I set through this postcard mailing and I must say they went great. I welcomed one new customer and will be meeting with two prospects for a second time next week.

So what did I learn from this experiment? ‘Old’ methods still work. While it’s important to engage in social media and build your online presence, I would advise you not to put all your eggs in one basket. There are many other opportunities out there and if you don’t seize them, your competitor will.


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Related posts:

  1. The Perfect Cold Call And Why It works
  2. The Real Reason Why Salespeople Hate Calling
  3. Calling Prospects: What I Learned From Other People’s Mistakes

6 Responses to “Who Said Postcards Don’t Work? – How One experiment Got Me 17 Appointments”

  • Dan on April 30, 2011

    I’m SO going to try this next month. Pipeline is kinda low at the moment, this might give it a little boost. I love the fact that you took the time to write them by hand. Really gives the cards a personal touch and increases the chance that the gatekeeper will pass it to the decision maker!

  • Wim on April 30, 2011

    I agree! It takes some time to write them, but it’s well worth the effort. Good luck with your postcard mailing btw, let me know how it went!

  • Chris Westfall on April 30, 2011

    Great post on going “old school”. The thing I like best about your strategy is it is easy to say yes at every point in the process. You don’t even have to open a postcard, just read it. Then, the question about the appointment is really about providing value at no charge – again, an easy “YES”. I think the best salespeople make it easy for the customer to get positive about the offer, on the way to the sale. Thanks!

  • Wim on May 2, 2011

    Thanks for your comment Chris! Good point on making it easy to say yes for the customer. It creates a positive mindset and that’s exactly what you need to build trust and relationships.

  • Donn Ingemie on June 26, 2011

    You’re spot on Wim, my entire business is built on “old school” postcard marketing. We have grown over 300% in one year as a direct result of postcards. Postcards are instant name (brand) and offer recognition, the receiver has no choice but to look and potentially read the content to see if it applies or interests them. I stand strong in my belief that direct mail is the only way one can potentially reach 100% of the market place… do you know anyone that does’t get mail?

  • ASneed on July 13, 2011

    Hi Wim, this is a great blog post! We switched insurance companies last year because of post cards we got consistently in the mail–and we are so happy that we changed companies!

    So I agree with you–”Snail Mail” presence is still highly effective, and in today’s electronic age, soemtimes it’s even more trusted when you get a hand written message from someone. So great work here–it’s nice to see that others are still using more old fashioned ways to communicate!


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