In the modern, data-driven environment, we have myriad contact methods to reach prospects. The variety of choices can make it difficult for sales reps to determine which medium is the right one. However, making this choice can have a surprising impact on sales productivity. To be a good sales rep, you have to be aware that at any given point in the sales funnel, the right communication strategy is going to be different. On the other hand, the medium also depends on what you have to say.
This may sound entry-level, but if you use the wrong channel to relay information, it may not be received the way you intended; being successful in sales relies on picking up on nuances in the way people communicate. Business executives are busy people, and you want to make things as easy as possible for them. Choosing between email, phone and face-to-face may sound simple, but you have to consider at least two things: first, what is the best medium for what you’re trying to say; second, how will it be perceived by the client?
Think Before Making Contact In a recent article from Fast Company, the author related her surprise that many people contacting her had little knowledge of contemporary communications etiquette. She cited an example of receiving long-winded emails outlining a problem when a quick phone call would have saved time on both ends. Needless to say, when you’re dealing with prospects, you want to do everything you can to use their time most efficiently, and also make sure they actually comprehend your messages.
A similar argument can be made for email. For quick queries or check-ins, prospects are likely to appreciate the use of email over a phone call, because email allows for valuable multi-tasking time that the telephone doesn’t. A face-to-face meeting should be reserved for the most important conversations, according to Anthony Iannarino.
Another point Iannarino makes is that the method of communication sends a message about how important you consider the discussion to be. For this reason, it’s imperative that certain meetings be in-person.
Make Sure You’re Developing the Relationship In response to the email/phone/in-person debate, B2B Lead Blog noted that the primary concern in customer relationships is about developing a relationship. Whatever medium you choose to send your communications, make sure the message helps you build a relationship. So, even if you think your pitch warrants a face-to-face meeting, remember that your prospect probably isn’t ready for that yet, and being too forceful may turn them off.
Developing the kind of trusted relationship that actually creates sales requires that reps start early. Use big data analytics to find potential leads early on in the buying process. Then using expertise gleaned from this market intelligence, begin forming a relationship and nurturing the lead until they are ready to buy—earning you in the coveted role of advisor. You can demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of their field and use this information to gain their trust over time. Being a trusted colleague also means that you understand your customer and the fact that they may need more information before committing to a sale.
However, here’s where communications comes in: bombarding prospects with sales pitches or salesy information too early can be a deterrent. Based on where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey, you should carefully consider not only what you’re saying to them, but what method you’re using to send the message. And make sure you’re aligning the content of your communications correctly with the method you send them.
In sales, these subtleties can make all the difference.