If you dismiss the cover letter for your job application as an afterthought or if you use it as a simple resume recap, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. Sales jobs are competitive, and the right cover letter can tip the scale in your direction. In fact, a September 2017 CareerBuilder survey found that 38 percent of HR managers are more likely to pay attention to an application if it includes a cover letter with a resume. Salespeople, in particular, need a good cover letter to stand out from the pack and showcase how you’re the right person for the job. Customizing a cover letter sample for your job application is a great way to get started.
Remember that a cover letter for a sales job application is an opportunity to showcase your skills while also showing some of your personality and communication ability. Here are some tips for writing an exceptional sales job cover letter, as well as cover letter templates for your job application.
Whenever possible, address the letter to a real person instead of using “To Whom It May Concern” or some other generic salutation. You can often find the sales lead or the head of sales through a bit of sleuthing on LinkedIn or by calling the company’s HR department and asking for the correct person’s name. In The Muse, one HR professional who has read more than 300 cover letters says that failure to do so is an immediate turn-off. After all, if you’re going to succeed in sales, you always need to be able to find the decision-maker. Demonstrate that you can do that in your first impression.
Think of your cover letter like you would a sales call. Your target market is human resources and hiring manager. And your cover letter is your first shot at landing an appointment. In this case, it’s an interview.
“The best way to showcase your skills in a cover letter,” says resume and cover letter expert Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, owner of resume-writing services Great Resumes Fast, “is to immediately show how you add value. You do this in three short bullet points that are all results-based. This means that you have to prove the results that you deliver. You always want to attribute a number to everything that you do and this is especially critical in sales.”
If you’re having trouble getting started, search online for different cover letter templates for a job application. You’ll find different versions that might suit your personality and skills. But remember to use meaty bullet points to highlight key sales skills. For example, you might also want to showcase your understanding of sales productivity metrics by including some of them in your cover letter or resume, like:
When using any sales cover letter template for a job application, of course, remember to customize it to your own experience.
Don’t let your lengthy cover letter disqualify you before you even get a chance to impress the team. Lauren McAdams, hiring manager and lead career advisor at Resume Companion, once received a three-page cover letter.
“The applicant was trying to be funny,” she says. “But besides the fact that it was poorly written, it was also presumptuous and a distraction from his actual application and areas where he might have proven to be competent.”
In most cases, sales cover letters should be no more than one page. Three to five brief paragraphs is usually best. Start with a compelling opening. Next, illustrate your sales impact with a brief narrative or bullet points. And then, ask for an interview opportunity.
Professional writers often use an “anecdotal lede” which means that the piece starts with a brief story. Fast Company recommends doing the same thing to showcase your skills in action. One way is to include a short recap of a goal achieved or a big account you just landed. An example would be something like this:
When I priced out my last proposal for Mammoth Corporation, I knew the margins were a stretch. It would be the most they had ever paid for this service. But, last quarter, we had saved them more than three times the increase. No other competitor would have gone the extra mile for them. Because our team has built such a strong relationship with the client, and I was able to break out their return on investment, we closed a record-breaking deal—and they suggested opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
Show how seriously you’re taking the opportunity by ensuring the cover letter is well-written and free of jargon and typos. Monster says that failure to proofread and customize your cover letter are among the pet peeves of those who read them.
Your niche is sales, so if you’re not a great proofreader, find a friend or a mentor with good editing skills to help. If you still can’t find anyone, try hiring a professional through sites like Upwork or try Grammarly’s online proofreading tool.
If you’re looking for more guidance for how to get started, try this cover letter template for your job application. Anything in brackets is a field you should customize to the job you’re applying to and for your specific qualifications.
I am excited to apply for the Sales position at [Widgets, Inc.]. Throughout my [three years of experience], I’ve always delivered results. My experience ranges from [generating and tracking leads] to [closing the deal over 25 percent of the time]. My enthusiasm for [your product] and my attention to detail are what make me successful in sales. And that’s what makes me an ideal candidate to join your team at [Widgets, Inc.].
For the past [three years], I’ve pitching to prospects, closing sales, and generating referrals with ease at [company name] with a sales quota of [over $100,000 per quarter]. Balancing so much at once is challenging. But I’ve learned to prioritize projects, communicate, and manage my time like a pro as a result.
I’m confident my [client communication] skills will support you in a positive way. Here is the specific value I will bring to your company:
I know my sales skills will be of value to your company. I’ve attached a copy of my resume for more detail of what I bring to the table. I hope to have the opportunity to speak with you further about how I can be an asset to your team. Thank you for your time.
While it’s never a good idea to cut and paste a cover letter template for a job application, this sample can inspire ideas to structure your own individual letter. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out these cover letter samples for job applications on JobHero and Monster.
For more great ideas for salespeople