Every day, many thousands of salespeople send emails to their prospective clients. Their sales leaders allow their teams to send these emails, and what is worse, many count those emails as a prospecting activity. It is counted even if the message found its way to the contact's spam filter or was deleted without as much as a cursory glance.
The criticism of the humble cold call's poor results is surpassed in every way by email—the undisputed champion when it comes to activity that generates no results, at least not the single outcome of prospecting. The number of email responses from a client to confirm a meeting from a cold email can be counted on zero hands. Add the fully-automated sequences and the overwhelming number of internal and external messages, and you understand why busy people chafe at additional, no-value, self-oriented, and legacy approach emails.
Many sales leaders allow their sales force to start their pursuit of a meeting with their dream clients by sending them an email. Most of these emails are too long, too self-oriented, and lack anything that might be valuable enough to deserve the client's attention, let alone get them to agree to a meeting.
Those who pursue net new revenue growth should immediately require a phone first approach for their sales force. But this policy should not be limited to prospecting, but to every important communication.
The Medium is the Message
When my son was a sophomore in high school, he fell for a senior he met in theatre. She was a couple of years older, and he had been pining away for weeks before I helped him to work up the courage to ask her out. After a week, I asked him if he'd asked her out, and he reported that he had asked her out. Desperate to know what happen, he told me she hadn't answered him yet. He had texted her. When she did finally respond the answer was yes.
Email: When the very best communication medium is far too good for your prospective client.
The salesperson that sends an email to their client is sending the message to a place where it is competing with hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of emails from internal contacts, external client contacts, family members, and hundreds of transactional messages from companies that message them. The overwhelming number and velocity of email messages have people like Cal Newport writing books about a world without email.
The choice of email as the primary way to open a relationship and schedule a meeting looks like fear, and conflict aversion, and suggests the salesperson isn't a peer, let alone one that might be One-Up. The telephone suggests otherwise. Making a call suggests you have something valuable to share, that you can create value, and the small amount of tension or conflict shows confidence.
Use email if you want to, but don't use it first. Use it as a follow-up—its rightful place in business.
The Phone First Sales Organization
Anything you can write in an email can be better delivered using a telephone, especially when it comes to prospecting and other important conversations. Humans do a better job communicating when the communication is synchronous. Remember when someone interpreted an email you wrote, finding a subtext that didn't exist in what you wrote?