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Ever wondered how you should approach your clients, 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.

Email Is the Most Common Sales Outreach Method

InsideSales.com recent research shows that 32 percent of respondents use email as a preferred method to communicate with prospects. 61 percent of first contacts happen via email, and only 6 percent of sales reps use a single call and voicemail as a sales cadence.

But it this really the best way to do business?

We asked Scott Mark, InsideSales.com 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. 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.

We can easily see how more freedom for the customer doesn’t necessarily translate into a closed deal for the rep. Prospects might dodge replying to your messages.

Why a Phone Call Can Sometimes be More Effective

Phone calls are more effective than email at gathering responsess. This happens for a number of 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;
  • One study shows that 57 percent 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 percent, compared to .03 percent for email, according to one study;

This is between phone calls and emails. Intuitively, we know that the most effective communication always happens in real-life, which 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 found the following:

  • 7 percent of a message was derived from words;
  • 38 percent from the intonation;
  • and 55 percent from the facial expression 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 types of communication.

This is true especially 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.

man working with smartphone in front of computer with coffee - cold calling future concept

When to Email

You might be able to reach simple goals with an email: scheduling a meeting, answering one-off questions . 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.

When to Call

When it comes to 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. 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.

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 InsideSales.com Sales Cadence Report 2017 can give you an idea.  

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

InsideSales.com has also created a full guide on what type of sales cadence works best with different audiences.

To see what sales activities work best: email, phone call, voicemail – click here to sign up!