IT is one thing to induce a man to take something that he wants; it is quite another to induce him to give up something he wants. And therein you have the vital difference between the sales and the collection letter.
True, both letters are built largely upon the same elements of salesmanship. Just as in selling a man an article, you win his interest in it, prove its qualities, persuade him that he needs it and induce him to buy, so in selling a settlement of your account, you must interest him in a personal practice of the golden rule, prove the justice of your request or demand, persuade him that it is for his own good that he settle, and finally induce him to enclose the money he owes you and mail today.
Furthermore, a collection letter has just as many possibilities as the sales letter for those supplementary qualities that make talk on paper distinctive - personality, the YOU element - those intimate touches that get next to a man when mere formalities do little more than irritate and spur antagonism.
Recognizing this, collection managers are coming more and more to see the element of danger in a too strict adherence to the use of form letters. In the handling of a great many small accounts they are of course, an economic necessity, but in a commercial business, at least, the man who is worth selling the first time, and whose trade is worth retaining, is certainly worth individual attention in the settlement of his bills.
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