I’m amazed at the number of salespeople I meet who tell me how much prospecting and overall follow-up they do with people using email rather than the telephone.  Their claim is it’s so much faster and a more efficient use of their time.

My response to them is that such a belief can’t be farther from the truth — unless, of course, your prospect or sales list is so bad that it requires contacting thousands of people to find one decent lead.  The telephone is still the best way to stay in touch with people. Yes, you do wind up getting voice mail the majority of time, but on those rare occasions when the person you want to reach answers, it is amazing the type of information you can obtain.

I’m not suggesting using the telephone for cold-calling. That’s an entirely different issue, and the answer will vary depending on your sales process and your industry.  What I am talking about is the occasional customer you might have — the one with whom you interact only infrequently.  Don’t drop them an email; instead, pick up the phone and try calling them first.

This is also the best approach with a warm lead with whom you have had some interaction, but you have not been able to move them far enough along the selling process.  Call them! It takes but a few seconds to try. Don’t kid yourself that you don’t have a few seconds, because we all do.  If you reach the person, you win. If you don’t reach the person, you still have the opportunity to leave a very short message with your name. This at least shows them you tried to reach out to them. You can always follow-up again with an email but at least you first attempted with the telephone. 

If you’re a sales manager, make sure you ask each of your salespeople each day who they contacted by phone.  Be specific. If you ask them simply who they contacted, they may very well provide you with an answer that includes those to whom they sent emails.  This is not the process you want them using. The accountability you establish could prove to show up in a positive way in the bottom line.

Copyright 2010, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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