Although some sales coaches insist that salespeople call before they email, I almost always use an email as my first touchpoint. This isn’t because I shy away from using the phone -- it’s because an email is a much stronger initial interaction, in my opinion.
1) Most people (especially decision makers) don’t like cold calls.
I don’t want to be sold to, and you don’t want to be sold to, but we all buy things all the time. The way we buy has changed. The way we communicate (or don’t communicate) with salespeople has also changed.
2) Email is less intrusive.
While it may provide a bit of clutter, an email doesn’t necessarily interrupt someone’s day. They can read it whenever they’d like and respond to it when they have time to soak in the proposition for a productive meeting.
3) Busy decision makers screen calls more than they screen emails.
Good emails are read by busy decision makers, and often responded to. On the other hand, sales voicemails are deleted and rarely responded to by busy decision makers and/or influential gatekeepers. I would argue that email and/or text is the preferred method of communication for most people.
4) It is not faster to call your prospects.
I can imagine sales managers everywhere are cringing at this list. Like so many of us taught to “dial for dollars,” we inherently believe that it is more efficient to pick up the phone and call. However, that is no longer the case. I can send 100 personalized emails a day to my prospects using saved customized templates in a free email efficiency tool like Sidekick in the time it takes most reps to make 60 dials.
5) I book more appointments through email.
My email open rate is much higher than my cold call answer rate. My email reply rate is much higher than my voicemail reply rate. You can’t argue with the data.
6) There is less room for error.
Most inside sales teams cold call simply to set initial appointments or demos -- they don’t expect to close on the first call. But it’s much easier to botch a cold call than it is a well-crafted email. While calls can go awry in a number of ways, it’s much easier for reps to produce a customized, complementary, compelling, and concise email.
7) It’s easier to switch the social paradigm through email.
Reps and prospects enter a social paradigm during every sales call and meeting. When you catch someone on a cold call, you are immediately put in a buyer/seller relationship. However, it should be every salesperson’s goal to transition this paradigm from buyer/seller to doctor/patient.
It is hard to transition to doctor/patient if the prospect isn’t initially receptive to your call. It’s much easier to flip the paradigm through a well-crafted, personalized email that aligns with the prospect’s challenges and your product or service.
If the prospect accepts your email meeting invite, they are obviously looking for help. You now enter your first meeting on a level playing field, and can prescribe the right solution to your “patient” after proper qualification.
8) I still call my prospects.
This does not mean you should never call your prospects. I simply make a point of emailing first because I find it more efficient and successful in setting initial meetings. I send two emails before I call -- and I never address the failed attempts.
Do you call or email your prospects first? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments or message me on LinkedIn.
Originally published May 1, 2015 7:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2021