Sell sheets can be a powerful pitch tool

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A well-planned and produced sell sheet can ease

A well-planned and produced sell sheet can ease the way to a handshake at the end of a deal. Photo Credit: iStock

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Jamie Herzlich Newsday columnist Jamie Herzlich

Herzlich writes the Small Business column in Newsday.

So you're peddling your product and you want to grab the attention of a buyer.

One of the best ways to do that is through a sell sheet.

Sell sheets, if done right, can be a powerful tool to pitch your product or invention, experts say.

"It provides all the information a potential buyer would need," explains Walter Reid, a business adviser with the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College, which has assisted inventors and entrepreneurs in creating sell sheets. "It initiates the ordering process."

Specifically, it's a one-page document (that could be double-sided) that describes in detail what the product is and what it does, Reid says.

It's handy to have around not only to garner the interest of potential buyers, but also as a quick reference sheet for trade shows, says inventor Brian Fried, president of, a Melville consulting firm, and president of the Inventors & Entrepreneurs Clubs of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Regardless of how you're using it, "it needs to get right to the point," says Fried, who has used sell sheets to pitch buyers for his own inventions. Buyers have little time and short attention spans, he notes.

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"You really have to catch the buyer's attention and keep it for the short time they're focused on it," he says.

Some key components of a sell sheet, says Fried, include:

-- A headline to grab interest

-- The name of the product or invention

-- A brief description of it

-- Highlights of the product's benefits

-- Product images to show how it works and what it does

-- Minimum quantity order

-- Pricing information

-- Contact information

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Focus on your product's benefits, not just its features, advises Rhonda Abrams, president of PlanningShop, a Redwood City, California-based publisher of books and software for entrepreneurs and author of "Successful Business Plan: Secrets & Strategies" (Planning Shop; $44.95). Use bullet points to list key features and benefits, she advises.

It pays to create a digital sales sheet as well as a hard copy, says Abrams, noting that each product should have its own sell sheet.

You can send a link to your sell sheet to a buyer and add video of the product in the digital version, she says.

Providing good images is key, says Michelle Seltzer, owner of Xcessorize by Michelle in Eastport, which sells ladies accessories and receives sell sheets pitching products.

"Photographs are great," says Seltzer, who has found sell sheets helpful in choosing new products as well as when it comes time to do a reorder.

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"I like to bring new products in," she notes. "It's a great approach to highlight the product."

When sending the sell sheet, find out who the buyer is at a company and let them know it's coming, says James Shehan, graphics manager for Nevada-based inventRight, an inventors resource. Otherwise, if it's an email, it may look like spam to them, he notes.

Pay attention to design, advises Shehan, adding that "typically, people want to put the kitchen sink" in their sell sheet.

Put the most pertinent information on the front and more of the specifics on the back, he suggests. "Think of the front of your sell sheet like a billboard," he says.

Make sure the layout looks professional and there are no misspellings, he says. It pays to consider getting expert help with it. "It needs to look good," Shehan says.

If you're mailing it, perhaps use a colored envelope or an odd-sized mailer, Reid says. "It should stand out a little bit and garner some attention," he notes.


1. No benefits statement, needed to show how product can solve a problem.

2. Poor design or layout.

3. Spelling errors.

4. Trying to cram in too many details.

5. Shoddy product images.

Source: Brian Fried

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