It may seen counterintuitive, but in 2020, email won’t get it done.
6 min read
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Anyone who has ever worked in sales or been an entrepreneur in the B2B space has had this feeling before: You just got off the phone after a great sales call. The prospect seems excited, they’re saying all the right things, you feel strong momentum, you finish your day still energized about this new possible opportunity and yet, somehow, the buyer doesn’t call you back. They stop responding to your emails, and suddenly the opportunity is dead.
When a prospect goes silent or a hot sales lead turns cold, most sales people’s first inclination is to email the prospect to check in and ask for next steps. Put it in writing, right? Plus, email makes it easy to follow up multiple times and gives you a paper trail to show your boss that you were trying. But all too often, those follow-up emails are also met with silence.
Here’s a dirty little secret of email for marketing and sales: Email is great to educate prospects in their research process, but it’s not so good for closing deals. Yet, over and over again, sales people (wrongly) assume that a deal is dead just because they’re not getting any responses to their emails.
If your deal has lost momentum or a prospect has stopped replying, this is the moment when you need to pick up the phone. Start dialing. You might need to call them many times until you get through to the prospect and can have an actual conversation, but don’t leave voice mails. Just keep trying.
In this digital age, the phone has become one of the most underappreciated tools in the salesperson’s toolbox. Actually talking with prospects gives you a chance to understand the subtle nuances of their situation, identify their pain points, answer questions and overcome objections. There are lots of deals that are still salvageable if you can get out of the inbox and pick up the phone.
Here are a few reasons why your latest emails haven’t been getting a response, and why the phone can help you get better results.
1. The prospect doesn’t have an answer for you (yet).
This happens all the time — the prospect was enthusiastic during the first sales call and they liked what they’ve heard from you so far, but once they got off that call, they realized that they were unsure how to bring the rest of the team and upper management on board with your idea. They might feel stuck or even a little embarrassed and anxious, like they’re letting you down or overpromised before they were ready to move forward. Keep in mind that your prospect might be in a complex emotional state and navigating a few different agendas within their organization. They might not even totally realize why they’re feeling stuck and flustered. And even if they do, they probably won’t tell you about it over email.
These sorts of issues are a great opportunity for a phone call. Getting on the phone with a prospect, instead of just pinging them with emails again and again, is a great chance to get them to open up and share more about what they’re dealing with and assess next steps and challenges. It’s also a great chance for you to show empathy and build the relationship even more: “Don’t worry about it, I understand. How can I help get the managing director and the rest of your team up to speed on how this solution can help them?”
2. You didn’t make a strong enough case.
Some prospects are agreeable and enthusiastic during a sales call, but once the call is over they might start to have second thoughts. While they liked your solution, it’s new to them, and they are unsure; it looks very different than what they have now. What if there are budget overruns? What if the implementation process doesn’t go smoothly? What if the rest of their team hasn’t bought in to what you’re selling? What if they have a longstanding relationship with their current vendor and they’re reluctant to end it? What if they take a big risk to advocate for your solution to their team and then your solution fails on them. What if they end up getting fired because of you?
Suddenly confronted with all these doubts, the prospect goes silent. Unless your prospect is exceptionally transparent and loves to write long letters, they probably aren’t going to tell you all of this via email. The only way to uncover these doubts and overcome their objections is to pick up the phone and have an honest conversation with the prospect.
Related: 3 Reasons You’re Not Closing Deals
3. They are busy.
It’s amusing to imagine that the reason why your prospect isn’t replying to your emails is because of complex psychodrama going on behind the scenes. And sometimes that really is the reason. But much more often, the reason is simple, i.e. your prospects are busy, and they didn’t have time to make your emails a priority.
Let’s face it: Nobody is waiting around for a salesperson to email them. Your prospect has a job to do. They’re dealing with direct reports and putting out fires all day. When things are especially hectic, your email might end up being the very last item on their to-do list.
You need to pick up the phone and find out what is going on. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that your prospect is still happy to hear from you and move forward with the sales process, and just needed a call from you to get a resurgence of momentum.
Phone conversations are so valuable, putting you into a more intimate back-and-forth with the prospect where you can really hear the subtext of what they’re saying. Email is a powerful tool, but it sometimes is too easy to ignore. Sometimes it’s necessary to gain clarity and create urgency by picking up the phone.