Are you applying for a sales position and need to write a good cover letter? Check out this handy guide (with a bonus sales cover letter sample!)
Let’s Eat, Grandma has written many cover letters for sales professionals, and we are here to give you the lowdown on how you can make yourself stand out above the rest of the pack. Stick with us to the end, and we will show you a sample cover letter that helped one of our clients do exactly that.
If employers are judging your capability to sell their products and services, you better believe you need to sell yourself well first in a good cover letter.
First: let’s review the principles of good cover letter writing to make sure we are on the same page.
Cover Letter 101
Rule #1 for writing a cover letter: “Know thy audience.”
Anyone who has ever taken a communications class in college or has even stepped up on stage to give a speech has likely been told to “know your audience”. It’s a staple of speech writing, blog writing, novel writing, or really any business communications piece. Your cover letter (and resume) is the ultimate piece of business communication; whose sole purpose is to explain the following:
1.) “Who you are”:
- Strengths: What are your strengths?
- Career trajectory: Where are you headed in your career?
- Relevant skills: What relevant skills do you have, and how are they useful?
- Values: What kind of culture, company, and overall mission do you value?
2.) “Why you are THE perfect fit for the position” (Taking this one step further).
- Your unique strengths: How your strengths may not only fit the position requirements but also why they may help you stand out among other candidates.
- Why your career trajectory makes sense: How your career trajectory places you into the perfectly logical next step into their open position.
- Relevant skills in the context of the position: How your skills meet what’s needed for the role, plus your level of proficiency with them (how much time do they reaaallly want to spend training you?).
- How your values match the company. How you fit into the mission/vision/ and work culture of their company; which manages your overall happiness and longevity in an operation where you will end up spending 20-40+ hours of your week (in other words, 35% of your wakeful life… after all, how many companies do you imagine want to fill a vacant position for just a short time?)
So here’s the thing about sales. There are some nuances that you need to understand when applying for sales positions. (Granted not all sales positions are created equally. Leadership positions will be treated differently than a typical representative position. Use your common sense here, and adapt as you see fit).
It’s a numbers game, baby.
Concrete facts that show the scope of your job help employers understand that you have the proper training and experience to enhance their work environment. Saying that you…
“exceeded quota by selling plenty of widgets for your company”
is extremely vague, especially if what actually did was…
“exceeded quota by 150% your first year–while outperforming 6 of your teammates during Q1 and Q3”
Both technically have the same meaning, but the second version helps you come off as a much more competitive candidate who can help quickly push a company or sales department forward.
We have also included numbers in the sales cover letter sample below to give you another good example of the power of numbers.
(Hidden Career Coaching tip #1: Strive to find such quantifiable opportunities, projects, and achievements in your daily work life. Ask your superior for projects you find interesting and will make you look good and further your career. Record the results in a running document– and eventually, add this to your resume).
As I mentioned earlier, you are applying for a sales position. Thus, it’s really important to be able to sell yourself in this cover letter. When writing those sales cover letters, that sense of conviction really needs to shine through in your writing.
The point is this: You have a gift for selling. You have some traits, core competencies, skill set, etc. to give a company an incredible amount of value. And they would sorely miss out if they didn’t have you as part of their team. So you need to communicate this (without coming across as a complete toolbag) in your cover letter.
As an exercise, I would write down the answers to these questions to build up a strong sense of conviction –and work on tactfully including them in your cover letter.
- Why does the company need to have you as part of their team?
- Why are you especially motivated to do a great job as a sales professional?
- How have you outperformed your quota in the past?
- How have you outperformed your teammates in the past?
- What unique traits do you bring to the table that makes you especially awesome? (Is it your ability to inject humor into sales calls? Is it your ability to remember even the tiniest detail about your client’s personal life and bring that back into the conversation? Is it your ability to empathize with people and uniquely understand each person’s situation?)
It’s important that you build up that conviction first in yourself, define your answers clearly in your notes, and then relay them in a cover letter. If you don’t know how to get it on paper – fine. That’s what professional resume writers are for. But you need to at least have an understanding of what makes you unique before blasting off your cover letters to the world.
For a good sense of conviction (and unique voice), please check out the sample cover letter below.
Let’s get personal.
When I am writing sales cover letters, I tend to have a bit more fun than I would when writing other cover letters. That is, I get more in touch with my clients’ human side, sharing personal stories, mission statements, and other personal characteristics.
Why is that? Sales positions—in their nature—are much more driven by people-skills than many of the other positions out there. Think about it. You are responsible for building a personal connection with prospective customers (or pre-existing accounts) — and taking them on an educational journey in the buying process. Your personality and your people skills are extremely important assets in your sales career.
Here are some ways you can get personal and showcase your human side as a sales professional:
- Add some flare and style to your “voice” in your cover letter.
- Share stories in your personal selling life.
- Explain why you love the industry.
- Explain what first got you into the sales world.
- Consider tying in personal interests in hobbies if they showcase a good point.
Sales Cover Letter Sample
Okay… we finally got here! Here is a winning sales cover letter sample that we wrote for a very talented client in sales. (We changed the client information and made up the position he applied for).
In this letter, we focused most on conviction. That is, how much does the professional believe that he has some value worth giving the company? How well is he able to communicate that value through his writing style or “voice.”
Now here’s Let’s Eat, Grandma’s call to action since you made it this far. (Go you, for wanting to learn).
If you want even more help with your job applications, create a free account to submit your resume for a free Career Score, or schedule a call with us to find out how our resume writers can help you land that job. And for more tips on how to improve your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, or even interview skills, check out the other articles on our blog.