May 14

To Call or Email? That is the Question

Marketing Strategy


send emailWhen Brian Carroll and I present webinars on adding the human touch to lead nurturing, like the one’s last month for the B2B Lead Roundtable and Marketo, we inevitably get these questions:

“How often should we call? How often should we email? What should we do first?”

The last question always guides me to the best responses for the first two. That’s why I always call the prospect before sending an email.

First, a phone conversation is a prime opportunity to gain opt-in. You can hear Brian and I role-play how it’s done at timestamp 47:34 in the webinar replay from the B2B Lead Roundtable event. Listen in, and you’ll be surprised at how natural it is to gain permission to send more information, which, of course, requires an email address.

Second, emails cannot make a discovery. An email can’t tell you:

  • Whether recipients are influencers or decision-makers
  • Their roles in the company
  • What they’re most interested in knowing
  • Their buying process

In contrast, a thoughtfully planned conversation is the ultimate discovery tool. It can reveal the answers to all of these points so you can identify the best:

  • Follow-up cadence and frequency: You’ll know their buying cycle and how to align contact ideally – phone calls and emails – to it.
  • Content: You’ll know what they care about and why. That’s the knowledge you need to create emails that are meaningful to them.

Third, a real-life conversation is the best way to build a connection. Thanks to your conversation, prospects will be looking for your email and will be more likely to open it because they know it will have content they can use. Your relationship will be off to a flying start. And, remember, whoever has the strongest relationship ultimately wins the sale.

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. In our trade it is advisable that you call a client for an appointment, the one that gives the appointment you go ahead establish how your services establish value to his Sales Efforts, send e mails on a consistent basis who are hesitant to give you their time, letting them know what they are missing out on. It works..

  2. This blog entry is spot on. I am afraid that we have experienced some companies in Europe, in their rush to automate campaigns using the plethora of marketing automation tools, to forget the nexessary element of the conversation. Nothing is better than combining digital body language with conversational profiling and discovery to understand buyer pains, where they are in their buying path and uncovering other decision makers in the buy cycle that need to be considered.

  3. Well agree with Nadine Stevens that both tools should be used. still i would like to say that calling is more effective than sending mails because in calling interaction is fast.but calling should be done in an impressive manner the agent doing calling work should be smart enough to impress the customer. When you are calling you know that your message has been reached but in case of emails you can’t be sure whether the recipient read your message or deleted it without reading.
    After calling you can send a email to that person.

  4. I agree about the need to combine both email and calling as to expedite the process and to really gauge a prospect’s interest. Another thing which we need to consider is the frequency of touching base with the prospects. We need it as often as to not to be forgotten but not too much as to annoy them.

  5. @sarah
    If you have a well-articulated value proposition and you are genuinely trying to educate your prospects, that can take a lot of the fear out of calling, since you will have less pressure and likely rejection that comes along with sales-oriented call tactics. If you can envision a friendly conversation between peers and realize that teleprospecting and nurturing are a process, and even though you do want to make every call count, your success rarely hinges on a single call.

    Be prepared to offer something of value during that call as well – something that will benefit them whether they buy from you or not. It can be difficult to pick up the phone if all you have his a pitch line.

    Hope this helps.

  6. The combo of the 2 are very powerful. I have noticed a lot of salespeople relying more and more on email. I just closed a deal. The client said I was the only salesperson to call and let them know an email was coming. I then followed up the email with a call.

  7. Brandon, sometimes I think we get caught up in the “medium” of choice and often forget that it is the process and the message that gets buyers to engage.

    Phone and/or email alone are not powerful. Phone intermingled in a process that includes email – and in a time frame that conveys urgency to a prospect…now that is powerful! We know it takes roughly 7 touches to convert a suspect to a prospect. So why not build a process for those touches that includes short enticing email communications with relevant voice mail messages and for good measure throw in a great piece of content.

    Anyway, you get where I am going. The process is the power not the mechanism used to execute it. With a multi medium approach, which I know you use, the buyer will respond to their vehicle of choice. Thanks for listening!

  8. A call is always going to provide more information and the ability to truly listen to the customers needs – however it is intrusive. Email can be a great way of opening the door and scheduling a time for this call at the customers convenience.

  9. You know, although I agree that the phone call can be far more effective, I am always paralyzed to pick up the phone. It seems much easier to hide behind the screen as the other commenter mentioned. Does anyone have any personal tricks you use to get past the fear of making the call?

  10. Both communication methods have their place, one thing that infuriates me is people using email instead of the phone. If you are trying to find out information pick up the phone and call me you can then drop me an email.

    I don’t know if this is an issue mainly for the younger generation who automatically go to electronic communication first and think of the telephone as old fashioned.

  11. Have to agree with you and the other comments; email isn’t going to be an A1 route to success. It’s like the old style pitch, the one sided sale – it just isn’t as effective as a two way conversation, it isn’t as effective as discovering how you can benefit the client, how the product or service might benefit them. Everyone in sales needs to understand this, email isn’t sales, sales is sales!

  12. Brandon – I couldn’t agree more with your approach. I think picking up the phone and trying to have a live conversation is the best route. In addition to a follow-up email, I also recommend taking the time to drop a signed letter in the mail. Just like Seth Godin’s advice from years ago around deciding if a communication is SPAM or not…”would you pay for postage and take the time to write a letter” if not, the communication may be SPAM. Additionally, if the communication starts off with “Excuse me for the interruption” it is definitely not worth your prospects valuable time. Thanks for reminding us all of how to best leverage the power of each communication channel – Andrew

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