Which is the better choice when you are prospecting?
Many salespeople struggle with a common prospecting quandary: Is it better to call a prospect on the phone first or to send an email first?
Some sales pros say you should always email first to warm up a prospect. Others claim that emailing first is a waste of time, and even worse, might make you look like a typical salesman who’s blindly following a step-by-step selling template.
A similar quandary occurs when you substitute “marketing” for “email.” In other words, which is better—to call first or wait for the marketing team to “soften the target?”
So who’s right? It depends.
Either way is right as long as you practice good sales techniques.
If the only reason you like to email first is because you’re afraid to pick up the phone or you dread talking to cranky prospects who don’t want to be bothered, then emailing first is the wrong choice. If that’s the case, it means either you’re afraid of sounding stupid on the phone or you’re sick of getting prospects’ voicemail each time you call.
Factors to Consider
Timing // There are some key times of the day that can work best for either form of communication. Sending an email 15 minutes or so before and after the hour can be a key time to reach people in order to get a quick response. Why? Consider your own habits. What do you do if you have a few minutes to kill before or after a meeting? You skim through your email. Likewise, calling closer to the end of the day, contrary to popular belief, can be one of the best times to catch people. Often they are checking in at the office before heading home, or they’re clearing out their voice mail to end the day.
Purpose of the communication // What do you hope to accomplish with your message? If the response you are seeking will require a conversation, consider a phone call. There’s nothing worse than an email conservation that goes back and forth and wastes time when a phone call could have provided clarity in a few minutes.
Prospect’s daily schedule // Does your prospect travel, spend a lot of time out of the office at meetings, frequently attend community events? If so, the chances of catching that person by phone may be slim. Email may be the better option. But if your prospect stays pretty close to their office desk during the day, pick up the phone and call.
Leaving Voice Mail
One of the reasons some salespeople do not like to make phone calls is they get tired of leaving messages. Or, they don’t know whether they should leave a message.
Leaving a voice mail can actually be a good thing. A voice mail gives you the opportunity to make a 20-second selling proposition. The trick is to leave voicemails that actually generate call backs.
Conserve your words // Voicemails need to be short, preferably less than 20 seconds. Put the most important idea in a powerful and information-rich lead sentence. Don’t waste time by saying you are “touching base” or “checking in.”
Focus on what your prospect values // Before you make the call, know how what you have to offer is relevant to your prospect. Include that in your message. Hint at what the benefit will be if they call you back.
Whether you call or email, selling fundamentals remain the same—salespeople are successful when they know what prospects want. When you have studied your prospects and are prepared to show how your product or service provides genuine value, then the communication channel you choose is not terribly relevant.