Tim Ikels - Creator, Publisher, Marketer

David Frey's 12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template

Published: · Updated:

You can access the original 12-Step Sales Letter Template by David Frey below.

My research suggests that the template’s original creator is Marlon Sanders, and David Frey played a significant role in popularizing it.

Here is the template:

12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template

Your sales letter must overcome your reader’s buying resistance and persuade them to take action.

Whether it’s in person or on paper, the process of overcoming buying resistance is the same.

Hurdles are spoken & unspoken:

  1. “You don’t understand my problem”
  2. “How do I know you’re qualified?”
  3. “I don’t believe you”
  4. “I don’t need it right now”
  5. “It won’t work for me”
  6. “What happens if I don’t like it?”
  7. “I can’t afford it”

Effective sales letters must address some or all of these objections.

This template overcomes each objection in a careful, methodical series of copywriting tactics.

Here are the 12 steps:

  1. Get attention
  2. Identify the problem
  3. Provide the solution
  4. Present your credentials
  5. Show the benefits
  6. Give social proof
  7. Make your offer
  8. Inject scarcity
  9. Give a guarantee
  10. Call to action
  11. Give a warning
  12. Close with a reminder

Each step adds to reader’s emotions while calming their fears.

Motivation - An Emotional Thing

We buy based on emotions and justify our purchase based on logic only after the sale.

So each step in the sales letter process must build on reader’s emotions to where they are motivated to act.

Only 2 things motivate people: The promise of gain or the fear of loss.

Fear of loss is the stronger motivator.

Would you rather buy a $50 course on “How to Improve Your Marriage” or “How to Stop Your Divorce or Lover’s Rejection?”

Stats prove the second title outsells the first 5 to 1.

Why? It addresses fear of loss.

Underlying promise of gain and fear of loss are 7 “universal motivations”.

Position any product or service so it provides 1 or more motivation:

  1. To be wealthy
  2. To be good looking
  3. To be healthy
  4. To be popular
  5. To have security
  6. To achieve inner peace
  7. To have free time
  8. To have fun

Ultimate motivations are what people really want.

Your product is just a way to give these benefits.

Always focus on these motivational factors.

12-Step Sales Letter System

1. Get Attention

The opening headline is the first thing your reader sees.

It must get their attention.

People have a short attention span and sort mail over the wastebasket.

The headline must target their interest, or they’ll throw your letter away.

3 Proven Headline Templates

  1. How To _________________

People love to know how to do things.

To get attention, combine “how to” with a powerful benefit.

  1. Secrets of _________ Revealed!

People want insider secrets.

We love to know things others aren’t privy to.

Knowledge is power. Those who have it feel powerful.

It’s exciting to discover secrets.

  1. Warning! Don’t Even Think of _______ Until You _______

This headline leverages fear of loss.

Warning demands attention.

Combine it with targeted interest.

2. Identify The Problem

Tell your reader how it feels to have that problem.

They should read and say “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel”.

Rub salt into that wound.

Agitate the problem so they really feel pain and agony.

Companies and people only change their ways due to severe pain.

Tell a short, painful story:

There’s nothing worse than getting home in the evening and not having your garage door open. It’s dark outside. You trip on the porch step and search for your front door key.
Finally, you find it only to scratch your new front door looking for the keyhole.
Exhausted, you go inside and plop on the couch just when you remember the car is still running in your driveway…

3. Provide The Solution

They feel the pain.

Now introduce yourself, your product and/or your service.

Relieve their pain.

Tell them there’s no need to struggle thru their problem.

Your product or service will solve it.

4. Present your Credentials

Now your reader is thinking “Yeah, sure he can fix my problem. That’s what they all say.”

So prove to them now that you can be trusted.

List your credentials - any one of these:

  1. Successful case studies
  2. Prestigious companies (or people) you have done business with
  3. The length of time you’ve been in your field of expertise
  4. Conferences where you have spoken
  5. Important awards or recognitions

Your reader must feel “you’ve been there and done that” with great success and they can expect the same.

5. Show The Benefits

Now tell how they’ll personally benefit from your product or service.

Don’t just list features.

Tell the benefits.

People don’t care about you or your product, only what it will do for them.

Get a piece of paper.

Draw a line down the center.

Write the features on the left.

Think about obvious and not-so-obvius benefits.

List those on the right.

Most products have hidden benefits people don’t naturally think of.

For example: A hot tub not only soothes and relaxes your muscles. It gives you an opportunity to talk to your spouse without interruptions.

Hidden benefit: Greater communication with your spouse and ultimately a better marriage!

Bullet point each benefit to make it easier to read.

Think of every possible benefit your reader may get.

People often buy based on only one of the benefits.

6. Give Social Proof

The reader wants it all to be true, but they just don’t believe you.

You must build credibility and believability.

Testimonials prove your claims.

Customr pictures with name, city, state and phone number (if possible) prove you are real.

7. Make Your Offer

Your offer is key to your sales letter.

A great offer can overcome mediocre copy. Great copy can’t overcome a mediocre offer.

Make them think “I’d be stupid not to take this deal.”

The best offers combine great price, terms, and free gifts.

Selling a car? Then offer discounted retail price, low interest rate, and a free year of gas.

Raise value of your offer with add-on products or services at a lower price.

Vivid benefit explanations raise the offer’s perceived value.

8. Give A Guarantee

Make the offer irresistible.

Take all risk out of the purchase.

People fear being ripped off.

Did you ever buy a lousy product and couldn’t get your money back back?

So do the strongest guarantee you can.

Demonstrate your confidence.

Most small businesses already have a strong guarantee.

If an irate customer wanted their money back, you’d just do it.

But owners fear many people would want refunds.

It doesn’t happen.

When did you last ask for a full refund?

Here’s a guarantee I give for one of my products:

100%, No Questions Asked, Take-It-To-The-Bank Guarantee

I personally guarantee if you make a diligent effort to use just a few of the techniques in this course, you’ll produce at least $4,490 profit in the next 12 months.

That’s right, $4,490 extra profit you never would have seen without this course.

If you don’t, I’ll refund the entire cost of the course.

Actually, you get double protection.

Here’s how.

At any time during the 12 months, if you sincerely feel I fell short in any way on delivering everything I promised, I’ll be happy to give you a complete refund.

Even if it’s on the last day of the twelfth month!

This guarantee extends for 1 year.

They’ll get specific benefits ($$).

If they don’t get what they expect, they get their money back, no questions asked.

This eliminates all buyer risk.

Hint: Your offer may be so good, people won’t believe it.

So always give the reason you can give such a great offer.

For example: You goofed ordering inventory, so you’re overstocked and can offer such a great price.

The reason why helps people reconcile your irresistible offer and makes it believable.

9. Inject Scarcity

Most people take their time responding to offers, even irresistible ones, because:

Use an extra incentive to motivate people.

Inject scarcity into your letter to create a fear of loss.

Tell your reader either the quantity is limited or your offer is valid for only a limited time, something like this:

Caution: If you make an offer you need to live up to it.

If you go back on your word after the deadline date you erode customer trust and confidence.

10. Call To Action

Don’t assume your reader knows what to do to get the benefits from your offer.

Clearly and concisely spell out how to make the order.

Whether it’s picking up the phone and calling, filling out an order form, faxing the form to your office etc.

Tell them exactly how to order from you.

Be “action-oriented.”


Tell them explicitly and succinctly.

Plant your call to action throughout your letter.

If you ask the reader to call your free info line, some testimonials might say “When I called their free info line…” or say in your offer “When you call our free info line…”

Then the call to action at the end of the letter is consistent and won’t surprise or confuse people.

11. Give A Warning

A good sales letter builds emotion, right to the very end… Even after your call to action.

Use “risk of loss”.

Tell the reader what will happen if they don’t take your offer.

They’ll continue to:

Paint a picture in the reader’s mind of consequences of not acting now.

Remind them of their terrible situation, and that it doesn’t have to be that way.

12. Close With A Reminder

Always include a P.S.

It’s the third most read element of your letter.

Some good copywriters add many P.P.Ses.

Remind them of your irresistible offer.

Include your call to action and remind them of the limited time (or quantity).

A Few Extra Tips

Tip 1: Start with Features and Benefits.

The biggest hurdle to a great sales letter is just starting.

A features and benefits list is the easiest.

Write each feature on a 3x5 card.

Put a related benefit on the back.

Your letter is off to a good start.

Tip 2: Complete your letter and let it sit a day or so.

You’ll be more objective when you edit.

Tip 3: Develop a “swipe file” to get your creative juices flowing.

When you see a great ad or effective letter, file it so you can refer back again and again.

Companies pay $1000s to develop marketing materials; leverage that by using it as a model for your own work.

Tip 4: Before your sales letter, do a customer profile sheet.

Write all you know about them.

Focus on who you’re writing to.

Tip 5: How long should a sales letter be?

As long as it needs to be.

Each part of your letter builds your case.

If 1/2 page does it, great.

It takes 24 pages to sell some products.

Whatever it takes.

Each step builds your case in a unique way and adds to the reader’s emotions.

Stay awesome,

P.S. Questions or comments? Reply via email.

P.P.S. Want to start and grow an online business on YOUR terms?

==> Free resources here ($0.00)