3 Reasons Why Thank You Notes Work

I’ve recently been reminded just how important hand written thank you notes can be in the business world. When I work with leaders and sales professionals as a coach,  or when I meet someone new and start to build a relationship I send them a short hand written thank you card. Nothing extravagant. A brief  note thanking them for something specific (usually their time). I’ve made it a habit—I carry a small bag in my brief case with note cards, envelopes, business cards and a pen. I don’t take for granted the positive affect of these gestures, but I do sometimes wonder how they are received.

Last week I got a thank card from the Chairmen of the Board of one of my clients. A note saying “Thank you” for my efforts and stating his support. Two sentences—big impact!

One of the reasons hand written thank you notes can be so effective is the law of reciprocity. You know–that unwritten law that says “If you do something nice for me I will feel the need to reciprocate by doing something nice for you”. In order for the law of reciprocity to work there are three key elements that need to be in place:

1. They must be SIGNIFICANT

Yes in a digital, fast paced, get it done now world a hand written note makes a statement. A statement that the sender took the time to put their thoughts on paper and mail a card.

2. They must be UNEXPECTED

Again in today’s society getting a card, written and addressed by hand (outside of Christmas time), is typically an unexpected occurrence. Think about the last time you got your mail and found, among all the other “stuff”, something hand written and addressed to you. What got opened first? As a side note I believe you, as the sender, should do it because it’s the right thing to do–not because you expect something in return.

3. They must be PERSONAL

When done correctly a hand written thank you note is very personal. By done correctly I mean you actually take the time to compose your thoughts and say “Thank you” to someone in a meaningful and specific way.

There is great book on the topic entitled “The Go Giver” by Bob Burg & John David Mann. In it they describe how the act of giving is so powerful in business.

Too often saying “Thank you” isn’t given enough merit. If you’re in sales you want your prospect, customer or client’s two most valuable assets, their time and their money! You should thank them like it you mean it–because you should, and you should thank them like it matters because it does!

So, who could you write a hand written thank you card to today?