9 best ways to say “to whom it may concern”

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“To whom it may concern” is an overused greeting in the business world. If you’re looking for a different way to address people, try these nine alternatives instead, depending on the situation.

One of the best sales tips you can get is to watch how you talk to your customers. This is because in selling there are no “little” things. In every interaction you have with a prospect, they judge you based on what you say and how you meet them.

This also applies to the professional world. If you want to build respect between colleagues and increase your chances of being promoted by a superior, the way you present yourself will have an impact on your chances.

Therefore, you should be careful with your greetings by mail and e-mail. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but an opening line in a message can have a big impact on someone who isn’t quite sure what to think of you and doesn’t have much to say outside of your communication style.

Here are nine alternatives to “to whom it may concern” that you can alternate either as a sales tactic or to communicate more effectively in the workplace.

1. Greetings,

Sometimes the simplest option is the best. “Greetings” has a touch of formality without being too long and distant as “to whom it may concern”. It’s also short, so you cut out the niceties while getting straight to the point. It seems a little distant, so it’s best for people you only know slightly.

Example:

Cheers,

I really enjoyed meeting you for coffee the other day. I really think we could gain a lot by partnering on this project, so I’d like to suggest…

2. Expensive [job title],

Often when you use “whom it may concern” you don’t know who the right person is. However, you may know what job title this person holds, so you can address your message to that title. It’s not the most pleasant way to contact someone, but it’s fine for a formal message to someone you’ve never met before, like an introductory letter.

Example:

Dear Vice President of Mid-Atlantic Regional Sales,

I have done a series of commercials in your industry which has led to a significant increase in leads for my clients and I believe I can do the same for you…

3. Expensive [department],

If you don’t know the person’s job title, messaging the entire department is a good strategy. Again, it doesn’t have that personal touch, but it does work as an opening method for building a relationship with a potential future client or partner. Do some research ahead of time to make sure you get the right department, though.

Example:

Dear ACME Inc. Sales and Marketing Department,

I am an up-and-coming marketing professional who has been a fan of your company since I moved into this field. I wanted to learn about openings or opportunities to develop a sales strategy that…

4. Dear Hiring Manager,

This is a great start or greeting for a cover letter, especially when you have an unknown recipient – even the department they work in. It gets straight to the point and clearly identifies who the intended contact is, even if you’re not sure who it is – the recipient will know and get your letter to the right place.

Example:

Dear Recruitment Manager,

I am a self-starter and hardworking HR professional who would be a perfect fit for the opening you recently posted…

5. Hello!

This openness aims to set a familiar and friendly tone. These types of greetings communicate to the contact that you are approachable and in a good mood. It is intended for less formal correspondence and makes more sense on an email than, say, a letter. If you’re just trying to communicate general information to people you have a familiar relationship with, this is a good option.

Example:

Good afternoon!

Just to remind all employees, a fire drill is taking place at 1:00 p.m. EST today, so please…

6. Hello,

For simple requests, this greeting is straight to the point. This is another more informal style of greeting; however, it looks slightly more professional than the previously discussed opening. It’s usually best for a quick match between people who already know each other.

Example:

Hello,

Could you send me the PDF of that business presentation that was mentioned in the meeting when you get the chance? I plan to…

7. Hi [first name],

Using a greeting like this indicates a lot of familiarity and friendliness towards the contact, so it should be used sparingly in a professional setting – in other words, don’t use it on your boss, but feel free to use it with your colleagues for the most part. Using it only on people you know fairly well also avoids mistakes like calling someone “Jennifer” when everyone else is calling her “Jen”.

Example:

Hi Jeff,

Will you be there later this afternoon? I was thinking of having a project meeting, but…

8. Expensive [last name],

Switching to the last name and replacing “hi” with “dear” immediately gives the message a much more formal feel. This is a common way to address a customer or any other situation where you want to convey a lot of respect to the contact. Avoid using ‘Ms’, which suggests a married woman – choose ‘Ms’. in all situations, unless you know the person prefers Mrs.

Example:

Dear Mr Johnson,

Thank you for being a loyal subscriber to our service. We noticed that your subscription will end in 25 days and we would like to offer you…

9. Dear Sir or Madam,

This is a similar greeting to the one above, but applies to situations where you don’t know anything about the individual’s identity. It’s similar to “to whom it may concern” but tries to be a bit more direct.

Example:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have been a loyal customer of ACME Inc. for three years and am concerned about a recent development…

Use software to facilitate your interactions with customers

If you’re looking to improve your relationship with prospects, try CRM software. These platforms offer powerful tools to organize contacts, move leads through the sales cycle, and break down your performance with analytics. The software will allow you to be better organized and therefore help you connect with customers more effectively.

For those who want to understand greetings to better communicate with customers on their email marketing list, experiment with different types of greetings to see which ones work best. Many email marketing apps offer an A/B testing option.

What is A/B testing? This is where you send a batch of emails to some customers with one version of the email and then a second version to a different group on your mailing list. Both versions have differences in terms of content, subject line, or offers, so it’s a great way to test how customers react to different greetings.

For example, Mailchimp uses an advanced A/B testing feature that lets you test up to three different variations of an email. The software also produces detailed click-through or open rate analytics so you can see in real time how customers are reacting to the changes you make.

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