Two short but potent words often go unsaid in business conversations: "Thank you." But when wielded appropriately through a letter, they can forever change the way you do business.
Read on to learn the best way how to write a thank you letter.
When do you need a thank you letter?
While by no means required in most situations, there are many scenarios in business when it's beneficial to write a thank you note via email or snail mail as a personal or professional courtesy or as a promotional tool:
- Reiterate your fit for a job: A thank you letter can be sent after a job interview to reiterate your suitability for a job and distinguish yourself from other clients.
- Remind an employer of your candidacy: Use a thank you letter to express continued interest in the role and when you haven't heard back from a job interview.
- Close a deal: Use a thank you letter after a sales pitch or initial meeting to demonstrate your willingness to close the deal and begin work right away.
- Foster goodwill with employees: Writing personalized thank you letters to employees for exemplary work or a particularly challenging period at work shows that you value their good work. In turn, they are more likely to stick around and continue to produce good work.
- Increase customer/client loyalty: Sending letters of gratitude to regular or valued customers/clients increases the odds that they will return and give you more business.
What elements must you include in a thank you letter?
At a minimum, you should address the "who", "what", and "why" of the occasion for which you're writing the thank you letter. Consider the following elements when determining how to write a thank you letter:
- Contact information: Include the name, address, phone number and email of both the sender and the receiver. By default, this addresses the "Who" question.
- Date: The date of the letter is usually included between the contact information of the sender and the receiver in standard business letters to address the "when" question.
- Salutation: Politely address the person or people to whom you want to express your thanks. "Dear [Name]" is a versatile greeting that works well for every occasion. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the recipient, you may also want to include his or her honorific (e.g., Mr., Ms., etc.) before the name.
- Body: This section spells out your gratitude and addresses the "What" and "Why" questions of the letter. What are you thanking the person or people for and why (e.g., what benefit did his/her/their actions have on you)?
- Sign-off: The last requirement for how to write a perfect thank you letter is a closing salutation followed by your name.
When should you not write a thank you letter?
You can't go wrong by sending a thank you letter in most situations. However, when learning how to express your gratitude in writing, it's equally important to know when NOT to write one, such as:
When the occasion is casual
You don't need a formal thank you letter to express your gratitude for everyday encounters with staff, clients or partners. A simple verbal "Thank you!" will suffice on these occasions.
When the discussion warrants a two-way dialogue
Let's say you want to follow up with a vendor after a meeting about an unresolved problem. A phone call or additional meeting would better facilitate a resolution than the one-way communication of a thank you letter.
When the intent is to be snarky
Be gracious. It is always best to send thank you letters when your gratitude is sincere. Don't use the letter as a tool to berate any individual.