Effective prospecting requires that you choose an effective medium for communication. Some forms of communication are more effective than others, often by a wide margin.
- Face-to-Face: This is the platinum standard. The more important the communication and conversation, the more certain it is that you should have the conversation face-to-face. The best and most important relationships you will ever have will come as a result of—and be maintained by—spending time with that person. But in-person prospecting isn’t an option for most salespeople.
- Video conference: Not as good as face-to-face, but more effective than most other mediums. You can see the other person’s face, and you can pick up physical cues that you might miss on the telephone. Video is the best alternative if you can’t be there in person. Someday soon, this may be the way we make the first contact.
- Phone calls: The phone isn’t in the top two choices when you need to have an important conversation, but it is still better than everything that follows. The phone allows you to engage in dialogue in real time. You can pick up verbal cues. Both you and the person you are speaking to can respond to what each other says. More still, you can collaborate and explore. You can also ask for commitments, and resolve your dream client’s concerns or reservations.
- Text Message: Yes, I put text messages above email. If children are our future, real-time communication will dominate. Text allows for short, immediate responses from another party. Every person you know has their cell phone within reach, even when they are sleeping. Almost everyone responds in real time. No one has 3,200 unanswered text messages in an inbox. More and more, this short form communication is going to be used for business.
- Email: Email isn’t an effective medium for most communication. It’s perfect to follow up meetings with information, next steps, and a record of what occurred in other meetings. It’s terrific for calendar invites. But it is horrible for meaningful conversations because it allows the person reading the email to read a particular tone into the text. Small issues seem much larger. Large issues seem smaller. Email also doesn’t allow for efficient or effective dialogue. Which makes it a poor first choice for prospecting.
- Mail: I remember when hearing the computer say “You’ve got mail,” was exciting and when snail mail was boring. Now the idea of getting more email is terrifying and getting real mail from another human being is a novelty. The fact that mail is a novelty means that it gets attention. Overnight packages fall into the category, too.
You have to choose how you will engage with your prospective clients, and you want to select the medium that best enables you to achieve your outcome. Right now, it’s likely that it’s the phone.