No doubt we live in a technology-based world driven by expedited activities, from instant text messages to YouTube videos on demand.  Communication moves fast.

One area I believe it hurts is applying for sales positions.  I realize an ever-increasing amount of opportunities are found, shared and contacted through LinkedIn, but what of finding opportunities for which you do not have a direct connection.  I think this activity is similar to cold calling/contacting.

When I am sourcing for sales candidates, I receive many resumes forwarded to me through the job boards and LinkedIn.  Resumes.  It is rare that I receive a cover letter anymore.  For me, receiving a resume is similar to receiving a product brochure with no letter…I am left to review the product on my own and make a go/no-go decision.  An accompanying email or letter explaining what this solution offers to me is of value in that it will (hopefully) explain how this solution will help solve a current pain I am experiencing.

Cover letters work in the same manner.  Now, I’m not talking the pre-canned, generic cover letters that state the candidate is a good fit for the role based on the ad.  Rather, a strong cover letter explains how this candidate’s skills and talents are transferrable to this sales role we are advertising.  The cover letter can explain how the hiring company will benefit from acquiring the candidate’s skills.  The cover letter is even stronger when the skills are directly correlated to the desired attributes listed in the ad.

I know, it sounds old-fashioned and overly-simple, but it is still effective.  Unfortunately, the cover letter/email is an under-utilized tool in the strong salesperson’s toolbox.

One of my favorite anecdotal websites is Killian Advertising’s Cover Letters From Hell.  I promise you will laugh so check it out.  In the meantime, here is a sample of the some “unique” writing:

“It is my desire to develop and generate the revolving scheme to filter to the consuming public in.”

“I’m looking for work because even though my company was profitable last year, this year they are expecting a large defecate.”

“A flaw that I must point out because it even bothers me is that I am impatient. I hate waiting, but then again who does?”

I received an email recently from someone I presume to be a salesperson looking for work.  Obviously this is a common occurrence these days, but here is the error in the delivery – the email had no writing.  Yup, it was just a blank email with an MS Word attachment that appeared to be a resume.

This approach is a wasted effort in today’s world.  I never opened the attachment for fear it may be some malicious, virus-infested computer-killer.  Dramatic, I know, but the point is valid.  It is similar to a phone call that comes in on your home phone at night and lists nothing more than “Out of Area.”  I wonder who it may be, I think about answering it, but I usually let it go because I suspect it is a telemarketer.  The same approach grips me with these types of unknown, unsolicited emails.

My standard operating procedure is to simply delete them an move on.  I am certain if that was a legitimate email, the person did not intend for this outcome.  This seems like an obvious point – take the time to write something for a cover email.  This salesperson’s approach leads me to make assumptions about his technique and abilities based on the clumsiness of his first contact.

We are sourcing for a sales position and are running some ads in different locations.  I received an email from a candidate that listed the title of the ad in the subject line – good move.

But this is all that was in the body of the email:

Would like to learn more, thanx!

I’m all for standing out, but this line at the beginning of a cover letter is a swing and a miss.

If you can get me excited about your business, I’ll bring the magic.

I’d settle for a sales rep who brings the qualifying.

This excerpt is from a cover letter:

If you think there might be a fit. Please send me a brief overview of your project or company.  Let me know how I could help you if there’s a fit.

If there’s any interest or a fit on my side I’ll drop you a note.

Fair enough?

You know, some times you do not need an assessment.  I am quite certain this individual has a strong sense of self.  His overuse of “fit” is only eclipsed by his cocky closing.

I’m all for confidence, but I would have serious concerns about this approach.

The Killian Newsletter is out which means another fabulous installment of Cover Letters From Hell.  This edition features some dandies:

…take this full of life, creative, fun, hardworking, quick learner, hands-on, intelligent, good looking, individually and help him by giving him the best possible experience, so he can continue the legacy of provided high level, knock your socks off advertising.

That’s why one should have important letters read – out loud – by someone else.

We’ve always had food-industry clients, and yes, we talk about food a lot, but we’ve never before been ordered to actually be food:

… being a member of the (name withheld) Organization, and, braise yourselves, even participating in a folk dance ensemble for the last 14 years.

Please except this statement and resume as a good sign that I am interested.

Therefore, making it easy to decide on whether or not to meet with me. Given that I will go on…

Oh, you’ve made it easy.

You guys are different. You guys small.

I am an “out of the box” thinker.

… who avoids clichés?

Read the entire thing.

I have been searching through online resumes and came across this commentary in a cover letter:

I am a 63 year old male just recently let go from my job because I’m too old. Don’t worry, I’m fighting it but in the meantime, I need a job.

You know, some things are better left unsaid.

Might be a good idea to leave this bit of data out of the cover email:

Position must be daytime hours and reachable BY THE BUS SYSTEM. I am without a vehicle and License at this time, this is only temporary until I pay a fine.

This excerpt is from the cover letter of a salesperson:

Telemarketing There is no better.

willing to work Short Term, Long Term, Temp. Commision, depending on rate of pay.

Currently i am working a sales job, however, i do not like it, although i am very good, great at it I am only making $7 an hour.