Email or the Telephone: Which one do you use more for prospecting?

I can’t speak to a group of salespeople, whether it be a keynote or a training session, without being asked for my views on which one I feel is better for prospecting.

The argument I hear is nobody answers the phone, and in the time it takes to make a few calls that don’t go anywhere, I can send an email to hundreds of people.

If it was just a game of the number of people you could contact, then yes, email would win.  I see that as being a bogus question, though.

The question should not be the number of people you can contact. The question we need to be asking is, “What are the number of people I can close?”

Leads that don’t go anywhere are nothing but a huge distraction and a huge de-motivator long term.  Conversely, having fewer leads but being able to close a higher percent of them is a huge motivator.

If your game is number of leads, use email. If it’s quality of leads, use the telephone.  I’m extremely partial to the telephone for one simple reason — I know on the surface it will seem it’s taking me more time, but the conversations with the people I reach are more likely to turn into meaningful conversations.

When people prospect with email, the tendency is to send too much information. Reason this occurs is people believe they may have only one chance to reach a person, so they need to provide them as much information as possible.  

This approach can ironically do more damage to the sales process. If the person reads all the information, they may be able to make a decision without ever talking to the salesperson.

Prospecting is about uncovering a need by creating a relationship.  If this is the objective, then it’s going to require a conversation to do it and that means the telephone.

I’m not against using email to prospect. I’m just against using it as the primary prospecting method. Worse yet is using it as the exclusive way to prospect.  Give me the telephone as my primary prospecting tool anytime, and I’ll use email as my backup or secondary tool.

When I share this philosophy with salespeople, there are those who buy my argument and those who don’t.

When I meet a person who doesn’t agree with me, I challenge them to use the telephone as their primary tool for 30 days and compare the results to the preceding 30 days and let me know the results.

My results are by no means scientific, but let’s just say that typically people are blown away by the results they achieve.  I’ll challenge you to the same test. For the next 30 days, use the telephone as your primary way to prospect and then let me know how you do.

I firmly believe sales is business and prospecting is sales so if we want to be serious about the business we create, then we need to step up and prospect in the best manner possible.

About the author

Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," helps individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more…

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