We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at your computer, getting ready to reach out to a list of prospects, but you pause to think: “Do I call, or do I send an email?”

What really is the best way to connect with your prospects?

Stick to these three rules and you will never again question what you should use to speak with your prospects.

What are you attempting to do with the communication? This should be your first thought when you are confronted with what to do with your outreach. Really consider the strength of your request. Are you attempting to gain more information? Ask for a referral? Double-check a fact? Answer their contract question?

As a sales rep, you need to understand the importance of your communication with your prospect. Don’t risk setting a precedent that email is the primary way you’ll communicate with them. Take the time to evaluate what you really want from your conversation before deciding to either pick up the phone or send an email.

For stronger requests such as any contract questions, meeting requests, conference calls, or product demos, always use the phone to connect with your prospect.

You should always use the phone when advancing your deal, especially during the prospecting stages. Advancing the sales stage will always involve some level of negotiation and qualification that you just can’t get through email.

If a prospect responds to your call with an email, pick up the phone and call them right back. You want to avoid long email strings, especially if you have yet to have a meaningful sales conversation with them. When following up on leads, always lead with a call.

For example, let’s say a prospect emails you a question about onboarding cost or implementation requirements — pick up the phone. Calling your prospect and handling the question before it turns into a concern will allow you to move your deals swiftly down the pipeline. Using a phone call in deal negotiations also prevents any misinterpretations that may occur over email. It will give you more insight into your prospect’s original question and potentially unearth more information you can use in your negotiations.

If you must respond to an email, reply with “That’s a great question. I’ll give you a call so I can address it and any other concerns.” You can also reply to a question by letting them know, “Hey, I’d love to discuss this over the phone. I left you a voicemail and will call again tomorrow.

You can use email for very specific closes. As mentioned above, you want to be careful not to rely on email for any negotiation or qualification tasks. For weaker requests, such as additional information, referrals, or confirming a meeting time, no need to waste your prospect’s time when a quick email can accomplish your goal.

If you are asking for information or confirming something on a deal you’re currently working, email is a better tool. The answers you will get will be better, more concise, easier to get, and won’t waste your prospect’s time — which they will thank you for. Keep email as a channel for administrative tasks and communication only. The results will be a faster sales cycle, highly invested prospects, and more deals closed.

As sales reps, we’re great storytellers, listeners, and conversationalists. It’s part of the job and something we’re both naturally and trained to excel at. If you’re trying to accomplish rapport-building over email, you’re selling yourself and your skills short. The conversation and information will flow freely over the phone. Similarly, when trying to get quick administrative details squared away, sending a quick email to your prospect will show them you value their time for easily answered requests.

Use these three rules to gain confidence in your judgment on communication with your prospects. You’ll see your pipeline grow, and the length of time to close shrink. Rely on your strengths with communication and you’ll be on your way to crushing your quota.

If you’re trying to accomplish rapport-building over email, you’re selling yourself and your skills short.”

Jeff Hoffman | Founder of Hoffman, Why You? Why You Now?® Sales Training Program
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