To what extent can emails be used in place of phone calls and face-to-face meetings when maintaining and developing relationships with clients and other important network contacts?
Four bloggers have all agreed to post their answers to the email question simultaneously, each offering a different perspective, with all responses linked. They are:
- Ford Harding, student of selling professional services.
- Tom Kane, specialist on marketing and selling legal services.
- Mark Buckshon, prodigious blogger and specialist on marketing and selling design and construction services.
- Yours Truly
I could make affirmative and negative arguments for email, phone calls and face-to-face meetings depending on the situation. But I think the answer to this question really revolves around the “maintaining and developing relationships.” In the end it all comes down to relationships.
I’ve found that emails, phone calls and face-to-face meetings all can help you start or continue conversations but they won’t do the hard work of building relationships for you.
My research shows that executive buyers choose the sales person who has been a resource and developed a relationship with them regardless of their timing to buy.
Average sales people think they are most effective when they talk with someone WHEN they are ready to buy, but top performers seek to build relationships with the right people in the right companies BEFORE they’re ready to buy.
Today’s prospects have a general lack of trust and they simply don’t want to be sold. They are weary of pitches, hype, pushy sales people and manipulative marketing tactics. They are time constrained and too busy to think. So what do they do with most of our sales and marketing messages)? They simply ignore them.
Time and time again it is proven that customers want the salespeople they deal with to understand their business, their needs, and the pressures under which they operate. These people are called trusted advisors.
For this reason, I think it’s critical to contact and have initial conversations with our future customers that are devoid of sales pitches. Quite literally when we begin a conversation with them, their attitudes and beliefs are being shaped, primed by the information they have already soaked up through various sources.
Be a resource to them regardless of their timing to buy. Otherwise, they are likely to get information from the internet or uninformed colleagues, trade publications or heaven forbid your competitors.
And I think a perfect way to do this is through lead nurturing. A key aspect of lead nurturing is the ability to provide relevant, valuable education and information to prospects up front. In this way you will be able to position yourself as a trusted advisor and perhaps even a thought leader.
Again, it’s about relationships. The key I think is putting the interests of our current or future customers first. That’s not always easy especially when we’re trying to meet objectives, growth goals etc. But when you do that, you don’t have to sell to people. You’ll start to find they even will come to you first when they are ready.