Pen Pals or Prospects?

Posted by Laurie Page on Thu, Feb 14, 2008

 

One of the services I provide for The Bridge Group is to coach Inside Sales reps on effective prospecting and closing techniques.  This is the type of work I have been doing for technology companies for over 15 years and I thought I had seen it all...but apparently not!

I am starting to see a trend emerge that scares the heck out of me.  That trend is for Inside Reps to use email as opposed to the phone.  It makes me crazy knowing that reps have replaced having a conversation with a prospect to using email to communicate!  

I understand email is a viable tool, and if used properly, can be an advantage.  I do in fact recommend email be used as part of the process.  However, I've found it's overused, and in many cases has replaced human interaction.

We must consider the following:

  • How do you initiate and drive the sales process via email?
      
  • How do you effectively communicate your value proposition, conduct an in-depth qualification and handle objections via email?
     
  • How do you establish a relationship and develop rapport?   

Now don't get me wrong, prospects do respond to email, in some cases, more often than voice mail.  Email is a great tool for:

  • Helping to identify the correct contact
  • Obtain a referral
  • Schedule a follow-up conversation
  • Confirm the details of a conversation
  • Etc.. 

But it should be part of the process not the whole process!  Email should NEVER equate to more than 20% of a rep's activity metric.

Lastly, don't get me going on all of the grammatical and spelling errors I see.  Never mind the pure amount of information included... white papers, articles, demos, etc.  It's almost like we are assigning the prospect homework!   

What happened to providing appropriate information at various stages of the sales process?  Nope, let's throw it all out there and see what sticks!

I can hear Inside Reps saying "I get better response rates via email."  Yes, you do, but I bet they are mostly rejections and/or leads that are not fully qualified yet are progressed to the next stage.  No wonder sales reps complain about the quality of leads they receive!

Now, I have to go make some phone calls.  Thanks for listening.

Topics: sales process, metrics

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