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Unit 2 Routine business letters

The enquiry

Most letters of enquiry are short and simple, so much so that many firms have adopted the practice of sending printed enquiry forms, thereby eliminating the need for a letter. As a prospective buyer, the writer of an enquiry states briefly and clearly what he is interested in, and this is all the receiver of the letter needs to know.

It is rather different when the object of your enquiry is to obtain a special price for regular orders, or selling rights in your area. In cases like these you are asking for concessions, and you have to 'sell' your proposal to the supplier. This requires much more skill than does the writing of a routine enquiry, and we will be returning to letters of this type shortly.

A first enquiry — a letter sent to a supplier-with whom you have not previously done business — should include:

1. A brief mention of how you obtained your potential supplier's name. Your source may be an embassy, consulate, or chamber of com­merce; you may have seen the goods in question at an exhibition or trade fair; you may be writing as the result of a recommendation from a business associate, or on the basis of an advertisement in the daily, weekly or trade press.

2. Some indication of the demand in your area for the goods which the supplier deals in.

3. Details of what you would like your prospective supplier to send you. Normally you will be interested in a catalogue, a price list, discounts, methods of payment, delivery times, and, where appro­priate, samples.

4. A closing sentence to round off the enquiry.


Enquiries for information about goods or services are sent and received in business all the time. In a routine letter of enquiry follow these guidelines:


1 State clearly and concisely what you want - general information, a catalogue, price list, sample, quotation, etc.

2 If there is a limit to the price at which you are prepared to buy, do not mention this otherwise the supplier may raise the quotation to the limit you state.

3 Most suppliers state their terms of payment when replying so there is no need for you to ask for them unless you are hoping for special rates.

4 Keep your enquiry brief and concise.


Enquiries mean potential business, so they must be acknowledged promptly. If it is from an established customer, say how much you appreciate it; if it is from a prospective customer, say you are glad to receive it and express the hope of a lasting and friendly business relationship.





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