Phone Call or Email? How to Choose the Right Sales Outreach Approach.

Making the right choice is key to achieving the best response from a prospect.

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By Sujan Patel

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When you want to send someone a message, what's your go-to method of communication? For me, as someone who's constantly on the go, I love being able to shoot off a few emails wherever I am.

Related: The One Strategy That Could More Than Double Your Sales

In fact, for many people, email is the preferred communication method: According to Radicati, the number of worldwide email users is expected to reach over 3.8 billion by the end of 2018.

Regardless of that fact, there are situations where a phone call is still absolutely necessary, especially in sales. Cold calls can be the bane of a sales rep's existence, but there is a time and place for them as well as email. Make no mistake, the phone should be used throughout the sales process. You can't rely on email alone.

The reason is that you should be focusing on the sales outreach method that achieves the best response from a prospect. And that method isn't just a matter of whether to use email or phone calls; You also need to know when to use each method. Here's what you what you need to know, to make the right choice.

The case for phone calls

Unlike email, a phone call allows you to have a real, human interaction with a prospect. It enables you to build trust, show authenticity and establish a connection with the person. That's where the telephone comes in; you should make a phone call when you want to have a larger conversation with a prospect. Choose this method when:

  • You're trying to build the relationship.

  • You have something complicated to explain.

  • You need to make an apology or deliver some bad news.

  • You need an answer fast or a quick turnaround.

  • You're looking to close the deal.

Related: Traditional Sales vs. Social Sales: How to Keep Your Strategy Fresh

The case for emails

As a busy sales rep with lots of clients, you can't expect to be calling up equally busy prospects for every little thing. Email can help you save time and get more done. It's a convenient method of communication that allows you to have more control over the conversation. You should send an email when you have something simple or quick to say. Choose email when:

  • You're following up.

  • You need to have something in writing.

  • You have a quick question.

  • You need to send a message to multiple people.

Choosing the right outreach method

Throughout the sales process, there will be times that require an email and times that require a phone call. Determining which communication method you need, and when, is key to achieving success in sales. Here are three ways to assess the situation before reaching out:

1. Determine the objective.

What are you trying to achieve with your outreach? The goal of your communication can determine which method you should choose. As I mentioned above, don't leave big goals like closing a deal to chance in an email. That way, the prospect will find it much easier to say "no," not to mention that an email just might look lazy. But for simple goals, like getting a quick question answered, go with email.

The urgency of your request can also affect the communication method you choose. If you need an answer fast, nothing is better than speaking directly to the prospect. And, consider: Not everyone is glued to email, and not everyone responds to email in a timely fashion, either. But if you don't require a fast response, email is fine.

2. Use what you know about the prospect

It doesn't matter what type of communication method you prefer. What does your prospect prefer? And through which method will he or she be most likely to give you the response you want?

There are a number of factors that could influence the prospect's preference, including age, gender, position, job level, industry, etc. For example, a C-level professional is probably used to talking on the phone often and may even have an assistant who fields those calls, while a millennial mid-level professional probably prefers email.

Also, if you've already communicated with a prospect multiple times and that person has been responsive, email may be a good choice. But if your prospect is in the first stage of the buying process and you're trying to build the relationship, a phone call will be far more effective.

3. Time it right.

Choosing the right communication method isn't just about the situation. It's also about timing. Day of the week, time of day and even time of the month and year could affect response rates for your outreach.

According to RingLead, the best days and times to call are Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 6:45 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. The worst times are Mondays at 6 a.m. and Friday afternoons.

For email, GetResponse finds that the best times are from 8 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. (I personally have had good success sending emails on Saturdays, when people have more time and less email in their inboxes -- but it depends a lot on the type of email you're sending).

When you're planning your sales outreach strategy, make sure you think through all of the potential factors and situations that could play into the potential outcome. Choosing the best communication method means you'll be more likely to get the best response.

Related: Why a Phone Call Is Better Than an Email (Usually)

What do you use more in your sales outreach – phone or email? What's your strategy for choosing when to use each communication method? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

Sujan Patel

Entrepreneur and Marketer, Co-founder of Web Profits

In his 14-plus years as a marketer and entrepreneur, Sujan Patel has helped hundreds of companies boost online traffic and sales and strengthen their online brand reputation. Patel is the co-founder of Web Profits and Mailshake.

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