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

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

“Nobody Answers The Phone”

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 in the same amount of time, then yes, email would win.  I see that as a bit of a bogus question, though.

How Many People Can You Close?

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

Quality of Leads Versus Quantity

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. The reason for this is that people believe they may have only one chance to reach a prospect, so they need to provide them with 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.

Uncover A Need By Creating A Relationship

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 using the telephone.

I’m not against using email to prospect. I’m just against using it as the primary — or worse, only — prospecting method. Give me the telephone as my primary prospecting tool anytime, and I will 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.

30-Day Telephone Prospecting Challenge

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.

In my sales training and consulting experience, 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 reflect on the results. What made the bigger impact to your bottom line?

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 way possible.


This free guide on prospecting sequences will teach you how to develop a series of prospecting touches, arranged in an intentional sequence, to improve the probability that you engage your prospect. Download the FREE Seven Steps to Building Effective Prospecting Sequences ebook here.

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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