How to turbo-charge your phone as a sales engine

When sales guys ask me about the phone and the role of the phone now, this is what I always say: the phone actually can be turbo-charged as a sales engine, but not because of anything to do with cold calling people. It gets turbo-charged by email.

We’ve been doing sales over the phone for pretty much as long as there have been phones, and now we’re at a spot where there are more phones on Earth than people — so shouldn’t we be using the phones more? That seems logical in some ways.

But sales guys will ask and say, “Isn’t the phone dying out?” Like, you know, how voicemail died out in the past 10-15 years or so? I disagree, but I do think the picture is shifting. Let me explain.

Back in the “cold call” era — which hasn’t died for some salespeople, but is dying for a lot of us — our phones were great. They were the only lifelines to new leads, prospects, business, and revenue. Some days, they were burning up. (Other days not so much.)

The problem with the cold call era and mentality is that the phone use was ultimately inefficient. The first problem, of course was gatekeepers. You’d think you have a direct line to a nice lead, and you’d get his/her secretary or an underling. Now you need to talk to them and hope they pass on the right (any?) information to the person you really need. How often did you hear “send me an email and if my boss is interested he will get back to you”.

The second problem was voicemail. People would check it, maybe make a note of it, but not necessarily call us back — especially if we were cold-callers. Ironically, this is part of why voicemail died; it stopped being an effective way to reach people. What’s funny about that is we’ve already reached the place where some people ignore all their email, so will email die out someday too?

It might — but it will take a while. Remember: email is fast and easy. If you have a global team, it’s usually one of the quickest ways to get information in front of different members. Humans are social and entrepreneurial in nature to some degree, but let’s face it: we’re also lazy. If we can accomplish something with a 2-minute email that might otherwise be a 45-minute call, we’ll probably take the two-minute email.

This is where I think the whole sales ecosystem has shifted. When sales guys ask me about the phone and the role of the phone now, this is what I always say: the phone actually can be turbo-charged as a sales engine, but not because of anything to do with calling people. It gets turbo-charged by email.

See, it works like this: many people have no idea how to write a good, specialized email. If you do, or if you can get that skill, it’s a huge advantage. I have a friend who works with some sales guys in the U.S. He tells me that every morning, they come in, check some lead database program, and fire off the same email to 15+ leads. They don’t even really research the leads! What do you think the success rate here is, for this team? You’re right: it’s not high.

When you get a lead, do the research. Who are they? LinkedIn. Who do they probably report to? Do you know anyone they might know? What are probably their pain points? Etc, etc. All this most of you know.

Then write an email to that lead. Just that one. Introduce yourself. Quick about the sale, and some context on them. “I see you worked at XYZ Corp. Did you know Mikiah there?” Again, this part is not rocket science — although many miss it.

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If you do these steps well on email, you will get a response usually — and yes, it might be from a gatekeeper, like back in the cold calling era. But this time, the gatekeeper might be looking for some time on the calendar with his/her boss (the lead) and you. This is good!

Here’s what you’ve done: you just used email to get on the calendar of a lead. Now you have a real appointment and a chance to tell your story — and they have some very brief background context (nothing more than a teaser that makes them curious) on who you are. Game on.

So this is my overall point: the phone is still very powerful, but it’s made even more powerful if you do a little pre-work to make sure that, once you get on the phone, the situation is right to start moving towards sale. The key is to combine the efficiency of your email system with the effectiveness of your phone.

What else do you think about the intersection of phone and email in sales?

 

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