We all use our inboxes for easy information exchanges. But for salespeople, it quickly becomes a challenge to email prospects as a means to ask hard questions, dig deep into unique situations, and ultimately control the sale.

Typed words are deprived of the rich emotional context people naturally convey in conversation. And, let’s face it, rarely is any sale not influenced by some emotional reaction on the part of either the salesperson or the buyer. Without nonverbal messages adding nuance and triggering emotional cues, high-value sales interactions can quickly lose momentum.

Some of the key challenges caused by using email for sales include:

1) Unclear Tone

The tone of an email is misinterpreted over 50% of the time, so selling through email becomes more intellectual and less emotional. And that might not be a good thing -- while people may think purchasing decisions are based on logic, research shows that we're less rational than we perceive ourselves to be.

2) Lack of Control

With phone calls, you can control the cadence of conversations and lead prospects down specific paths. However, it’s much harder to course correct via email.

3) Unproductive Responses

In an email, the customer can not respond, not answer your question, give a half response, or answer the question but not allow you to ask the right follow-ups. When you need real answers to pressing issues, a call enables you to get to the bottom line.

4) Longer Sales Cycles

Business inboxes are often overflowing with chaotic stop and go messages. Pauses between emails add up, halting progress and dragging out the sales cycle. Often, a 15- to 30-minute conversation can save a week’s worth of back and forth emails.

5) Impersonal Messages

It’s a lot easier for a prospect to say “no” or act dismissive when they don’t feel that there’s a real human behind a message. Prospects are more likely to hear you out on the phone, giving you the flexibility to adjust questions and responses.

6) Less Dynamic Conversations

Promptly addressing a prospect’s unique needs and concerns is a crucial aspect of sales, but email interrupts a salesperson's ability to quickly adjust. 

So what's the solution to all these email problems? Pick up the phone.

“The top sales reps on our team consistently spend five to six hours a day on phone calls. In our sales training, we make it clear that email is for agenda setting, sending meeting notes with homework, and [asking] super quick, straightforward questions," said Switch Communications Chief Revenue Officer Jeanne DeWitt. "If you want to hit your number, you need to get on the phone."

Voice is the original social network, and the quickest way to convey your thoughts and ideas. It shapes the rich context from which meaningful conversations are derived. Nothing is more frustrating than being stuck in a tedious back and forth with a prospect when simply picking up the phone can cut straight through the noise. Hearing someone on the other end of the line opens up the space to collaborate, resolve issues, and connect in real time.

Phone calls sit at the very core of sales communications, syncing the subtleties of tone and cadence, and empowering reps to accelerate the timeline from initial contact to final sale.

Do you agree that email sucks for sales? Let your opinion be heard in the comments.

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Originally published Oct 8, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


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