It can be hugely tempting for salespeople to fall back on the simplicity and convenience of email, as opposed to the more daunting task of picking up the phone to their prospect or customer. However, getting over the fear of having a real conversation can be the catalyst for long-lasting, meaningful client relationships.
A five-minute conversation is likely to be more memorable and effective in building trust with a customer, in a way that long-winded email correspondences and scheduling an hour-long conference call never could. The successful salesperson, therefore, needs to save email for answering generic questions and administrative tasks like sharing contracts. Instead, they need to get accustomed to picking up the phone and nurturing their personal relationships with customers.
However, they also need to bolster communication etiquette and consider the questions that should never be asked via email. Here is our guide to the worst questions to put to your customers and prospects on email:
1. Do you prefer email or telephone communication?
This question will only ever receive one response, especially in the busy modern business world. The vast majority of customers and prospects will take the option that is least time-intensive and requires the least effort. But email is not conducive to helping you get your job done.
That’s not to say that email usage should be removed totally, rather use both communication formats where necessary. For example, if a prospect emails a question along the lines of “We’re ready to sign, but just have a couple more questions before we do so,” that is your opportunity to pick up the phone. Having what is likely to be a key final conversation over email can do real damage to the potential deal. It requires the human touch to get it over the line, so be wary of getting over-excited at the opportunity of getting the deal closed quickly and remember your best quality is your ability to sell person to person.
2. When would you like to reschedule the meeting?
It is, of course, frustrating when a prospect cancels a meeting at the last minute and asks to reschedule it via email – largely because the chances of closing the deal vastly increase. However, rather than being disappointed and sticking with email to provide your response, take it as an opportunity to pick up the phone and positively ask “Of course we can reschedule – when is the best time for you to meet?”
This will save you time, demonstrate your keenness to your prospect, as well as preventing a long email chain of failed rescheduling attempts and – most importantly – lowers the risk of losing the prospect.
3. Who is the person you added to our email communication?
A new person being added to email communication is a common occurrence in any sales cycle. And it’s highly likely to have been done for a very important reason.
If a new person is CC’d to your conversation with a prospect, pick up the phone to find out who they are and why they’re important to the conversation. Asking the question on email runs the risk of not giving the new person the information they need but also, worse, offending them and killing any chance of a deal.
Picking up the phone at this stage can provide you with context on the sale, avoids an awkward email thread, and increases the prospect of closing a deal.
4. What did you think of our meeting last week?
Asking for feedback on a proposal or meeting you had with a prospect is a big mistake. It weakens your position and increases the chances of rekindling any negatives that they hadn’t previously considered.
Prompting your prospect for their feedback on email can translate as you asking for their thoughts on you. Any feedback you need should be secured immediately after your meeting or presentation, or a follow-up conversation should be scheduled at the end of your meeting.
5. When can I get back in touch?
If a prospective customer asks you to delay a meeting or the close of a deal, asking them when you can next touch base can put them off.
Simply thank them for the update without asking for their permission to get back in touch or asking when you should get back in touch. Leave it open for you to get back in contact when the time fits.
Reduce your reliance on email
Using email sparingly is an important quality for any successful salesperson. People with influence, the people that are responsible for making decisions for their business, are typically happy to take calls. A prospect that claims not to is likely to either not have the appropriate level of buying power or simply isn’t interested in your product or service.
Don’t allow your sales teams to fall into practices like accepting “this prospect prefers email, so I’m going to do it this one time.” These exceptions go against your team’s best quality and only make it easier to fall into the habit of relying on email. Use email sparingly, and implement this throughout your sales organisation.