Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer and avid user of digital communications. Email and text messaging can be quick, efficient, and allow one to be incredibly productive when time and patience are scarce. In many cases these are certainly the best communications tool you can use.
But are emails and texts always the right option? I don’t think so! Sure, rapid response and delivery is great, but in many ways, it is also impersonal and indifferent, especially when trying to open, nurture, and sustain solid business relationships. For that you need the old-fashioned telephone.
Picking up the phone will be your best option in the following situations:
Relying on email to reach out to new prospects is generally unsuccessful. As you well know, people receive hundreds of emails each day. Cold emails from unknown parties who are attempting to solicit business are easily overlooked and sometimes consciously deleted without ever being read.
Staying close to your clients is the best way to build loyalty and ensure that your competition doesn’t interfere and attempt to win over your clients. Using email for the occasional touch point is satisfactory; telephone calls and in-person meetings, however, are best for keeping a strong business relationship. Phone and face-to-face meetings can often help to uncover additional wants and needs as well as any problems or concerns that may not be conveyed via email. This proactive approach enables you to address the client’s concerns before they have a chance to undermine your relationship.
Reactivating dormant accounts is a surefire way to keep your sales funnel full without continually prospecting for new business. Clients become dormant for many reasons, and reaching out to an MIA client by email is too impersonal and passive for getting much traction. A phone call provides an opportunity to catch any verbal cues that are not available via email and can help to make your client reactivation program more effective.
There are several reasons why sensitive or exceptional issues should be discussed on the phone rather than in an email exchange:
The phone tends to encourage more spontaneous thinking and informal dialogue, leading to greater productivity among participants. Getting immediate feedback in a conversation is far superior than receiving an email response hours or even days after the original email was sent. During a phone conversation decisions will occur surprisingly fast.
Personally, when I see that I have had (2) two exchanges by email or text, I know it is time to pick up the phone. My clients and associates laugh because they know that this is my way of getting a decision or making one! They know that I do this out of respect for all of our time!
It might just be a generational divide. Millennials have come of age with email and text messaging, and are usually less comfortable picking up the phone than older employees.
The key to maximizing communications is to train your staff on when to use email or the phone, and giving them the tools to be successful in both. Email templates, business writing, and communications skills programs are a good start.