Online interactions continue to impact the way we do business -- and as we move more of ourselves online, we are also moving away from human interaction.
With mobile phones, tablets, cloud technology, and apps, we have access to information and customers wherever we are. And for the most part, technology has improved traditional business practices.
Sales, the oldest business practice, isn’t exempt to the impact that the Internet of Things has had on the industry; it’s completely changed the way we sell and do business in today’s world. Even in our world of apps and iPads, an integral part of sales is building a relationship with your prospect. The ways in which we build that relationship, however, has shifted dramatically.
Instead of spending 45 minutes making a pitch to potential customer, we can send an email to thousands of prospects with just a few clicks. This makes it possible to contact more people at a faster rate, which has led many of us to start substituting something personal (such as a phone call) for something that is more efficient in the short term.
Technology has made some parts of the sales process easier, enabling us to close a sale without ever seeing a prospect's face, or talking to them over the phone. But are we selling ourselves short? Are we forgetting the most effective way to make a real connection and close a prospect: human interaction?
We’ve come a long way in the world of email since it was first developed. Now we can segment our email lists based on the customer’s buying behaviors, preferences, and demographic data to better target our sales efforts. However, even with the best targeting, email isn’t as powerful as a real-time conversation. A personal connection goes a very long way when you’re building a deeper relationship with your potential customers and with email - it's more a numbers game.
While email may be the quick, easy way to do things, it’s certainly not the most efficient way. One study shows that 57 percent of people who receive these kinds of emails believe it to be spam without even opening the email. The majority of the people that you send your emails to likely won’t even end up reading them. Can emails really be better than making a pitch over the phone or in person?
Of the following, which would you think would likely lead to a bigger and faster sale?
1. A highly targeted email with interesting and relevant content to the customer(s), but more than half may consider it to be spam without opening
2. A personal phone call where you learn through casual conversation, and one that has clear, specific plans and points that were custom designed for each individual buyer
Typically, a phone call will get someone’s attention much quicker than an email, and you’re able to customize your sales pitch. With email, you’re stuck making guesses at what the most-likely customer pain points could be. With actual, real customer interaction, you will be able to pinpoint the problem by asking specific questions, and offer the prospect a solution. This is one of the many ways that email can never replace human interaction.
When the word “sales” and “phone” are mentioned in the same sentence, most automatically think of the cold call. It’s obvious that closing sales with cold calls can—and likely will—be very difficult, but when you get past that first barrier and begin to engage with a buyer on the telephone, the cold calling doesn’t always seem to be so frigid.
Believe it or not, the success rate of cold calling has actually proven to be higher than many people would think. One small business website has found that cold calling has a 6% response rate, much higher than the response rate of email, direct mail, or internet displays. Another company found that without cold calling, their company would be a third of its current revenue size.
Warm up your cold calls by adding an element of human interaction. Similar to face-to-face interaction, your goal with a cold call is to discover the pain points by customizing your message to fit the potential buyer’s needs. Before you even pick up the phone, do your research so that you can completely understand the buyer’s possible wants and needs.
As you do your research and get to know your customers, your calls will become more successful, and you’ll be getting more sales than you would by sending mass emails.
Batch emails can’t be tailored nearly as well as a face-to-face meeting or a simple phone call -- with email, you won't even have a chance to respond to their objections.
Even cold calls, when done correctly, are by far a more effective way of selling your company and your product. Fit your pitch to every individual and company that you call, and you’ll notice a significant difference in your success rate. The personal touch that a phone call provides may be enough to give you the extra edge in your selling.
There’s no doubt that technology has helped all kinds of businesses make significant leaps in their efficiency in reaching as many prospects as possible, but we cannot forget the importance of human contact.
There is an intangible trust that comes with human interaction that email simply cannot articulate - no matter how many words they use. Consider limiting business emails to a subsection of your prospects, and start relying on phone calls and in-person meetings for making your sales pitches to prospects that are most-likely to purchase from you.
If your sales strategy relies too heavily on automated emails, you’ll need to start challenging yourself to break away from that technology. Don’t just target and assume that your emails will be effective, much less read.
You need to make an effort to create genuine connections with your customers, either through face-to-face meetings or over the phone. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that human interaction actually works in sales: after all, salesmen have been around much longer than any computer has been.