Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling: What’s Best?

Which side are you on in the email prospecting vs cold calling argument? Here, we break it down to determine which sales activity is better. Read on to find out more.

RELATED: 8 Days Of Email Marketing | Guide To Email Sales

In this article:

  1. Email Is the Most Common Sales Outreach Method
  2. Why a Phone Call Can Sometimes be More Effective
  3. When to Use Email Prospecting
  4. When to Use Cold Calling
  5. Testing the Best Types of Sales Activities
  6. Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling: The Final Verdict

Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling | How Each Stacks Up to the Other

Email Is the Most Common Sales Outreach Method

Ever wondered how you should approach your clients? Have you asked yourself if you should send an email or call them on the phone?

Sometimes picking between sales communication methods (email prospecting vs cold calling or even voicemail) is a matter of preference and a subjective choice for sales representatives. However, getting the right sales activity with a lead can make or break your deal.

It can’t be left to chance.

Email is currently the industry darling for salesmen, according to a recent study, but it may not always be the best way to go.

  • Recent XANT research shows that 32% of respondents use email as a preferred method to communicate with prospects. Additionally, 61% of first contacts happen via email.
  • On the other hand, only 6% of sales reps use a single call and voicemail as a sales cadence.

Since calls aren’t being used much in lead generation, it’s time to reevaluate. Is this really the best way to do business?

We asked Scott Mark, XANT Partner, and Field Marketing Specialist, why reps prefer to email rather than call. Scott has been doing technology sales for more than 11 years in complex business markets and just closed an excellent quarter.

“Sales reps prefer email because clients are too busy to take the call in the first place. Most clients or prospects don’t want to talk on the phone,” Scott Mark points out.

“Email is non-threatening — they can reply when they want to, they don’t have to have a conversation on the spot. Email gives the customer more freedom,” said Scott Mark.

Instead of waiting on a response, emails can help both parties avoid wasting time. However, it doesn’t mean it’s the most effective.

We can quickly see how more freedom for the customer doesn’t necessarily translate into a closed deal for the rep. After all, prospects might dodge replying to your messages.

Why a Phone Call Can Sometimes be More Effective

Sending emails and making cold calls both have their pros and cons. On that note, phone calls are more effective than email at gathering responses.

Phone calls can be more useful for several reasons, but let’s list the most obvious:

  • Recent stats show that the average office worker receives around 121 emails per day.  In this type of crowded medium, it’s hard to stand out and get someone’s attention;
  • According to statistics, over 57% of people who receive a cold email think it is spam without even opening the email;
  • Phone outreach has a response rate of 8.1%, compared to .03% for email, according to one study;

These statistics show the differences between phone calls and emails. Intuitively, we know that the most effective communication always happens in real life.

The effectiveness of real-life communication is why face-to-face meetings are a great sales tool to leverage.

In studying the impact of the different types of communication, UCLA psychology professor emeritus Albert Mehrabian discovered the following:

  • 7% of a message relies on the words;
  • 38% of it is from the intonation;
  • and 55% of one’s facial expressions or body language.

Looking at the research, we can see how the different types of communication might have different results. However, when trying to effectively communicate a sales proposition, sales representatives will need to use all kinds of communication.

This is especially true in technology sales (SaaS selling), where multiple decision-makers are involved, and sales cycles are regularly long (3-6 months).

Knowing when to email and when to call as a part of a sales cadence strategy is what creates a high performing sales organization.

RELATED: Cold Calling Still Works – If You Do It Right

When to Use Email Prospecting

You might be able to reach simple goals with an email: scheduling a meeting, answering one-off questions, and more. However, when a client is ready to close the deal, you will need to get in touch with them by phone.

“Where closing is concerned, on that type of conversation, a call is better than an email. When there is negotiation involved, when they are trying to get questions answer, further down in the customer journey, it’s the best time to have a phone call as well as a demo,” said Scott Mark.

Email prospecting is best when you want to reach a lot of people for lead generation. Of course, you have to make sure that the email isn’t an end in itself.

Instead, when you’re sales prospecting through email, it’s to get customers to talk to you.

Effective prospecting, whether done through the phone, through email, or even through social media, will depend on your goal.

When to Use Cold Calling

With email and phone calls, it’s not an either/or, shows Scott. They each have their place in the sales activity cycle and contribute heavily to the outcome of the final deal.

“Me, personally, I’m a phone call guy. The way I’ve done it in the past and the way I trained my team all involve phone calls,” Scott admitted.

“Studies show that you should send an email first, and then follow up with a call. I always think you should call and leave a voicemail, and let them know you sent an email.”

“The call, voicemail, and email need to correlate with each other,” says Scott.

Outreach through cold calls is excellent, given all the control you have over your conversation with a lead. If this is something that appeals to you, then maybe cold calls are the way to go.

However, do note that not a lot of people will be open to receiving cold calls. Remember not to go into a full-blown sales pitch on the first call, to avoid driving away your potential customers.

Granted, there are different other factors you should consider when creating your sales cadence strategy: target audience, type of product, and even your industry response rates will be involved.

Testing the Best Types of Sales Activities

Testing internally should tell you what types of interactions and messages your audience resonates with. If you’re looking to see what the benchmarks are in the industry, the XANT Sales Cadence Report 2017 can give you an idea.  

In this study, XANT Labs audited the sales cadences of 8,000 companies and analyzed the results to determine how companies worldwide interact with their leads.

Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling: The Final Verdict

Basically, there’s no one sales activity better than the other. Overall, each sales activity has its own benefit and advantages that can be incorporated into a team’s sales tactics.

To get good response rates, sales reps must master the skill of customizing each contact they make with prospects and customers. It’s not enough anymore to send out a standardized email or read from a script when calling. Although quantity matters, relevant quality contact catches the eye of the prospect to win appointments.

As long as you know the best situations for both of these activities, then they can both live in harmony in your sales process strategy.

What do you prefer between email prospecting vs cold calling for sales outreach? Why is that your preferred method? Let us know by leaving a comment down below!

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Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling: What’s Best?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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