Slow sales aren’t usually the result of a bad product, they are the result of a bad process. In this series of three articles, you’ll find the tactical problems that are likely the cause of your revenue pipeline slowing. First up, the worst gobstopper of all: the use of emails.  

Salespeople, especially younger ones, think that the way to a customer’s ear, heart, and ultimately pocketbook, is through connecting digitally. Their reasoning is always the same-;sending emails allows them to feel they are not bothering the prospect. They figure that the unobtrusive email will land in the customer’s inbox and if he wants something, clearly, he’ll call to buy. However, my twenty plus years of selling shows exactly the contrary. Emails don’t work. Here’s why.

Emails can be overlooked easily.  Emails used to be like sending old-fashioned letters-;they were well-thought out, sent judiciously, and had real purpose.  In the past three years or so, they’ve become more like junk mail than sincere missives, and the number of unwanted, uninspiring, and frankly, useless correspondence is piling up, the same as all of those credit card solicitations that created a traffic jam in your real-life mailbox. And because of the overload, even those with potentially worthy content are getting missed, deleted, and forgotten.  All of which spell trouble for your sales pipeline if you are relying only on email to get in touch with your customers.

Emails don’t create urgency. When you are trying to make a sale, time is of the essence-;you likely don’t have an unlimited amount of money to keep your company afloat while you wait for a customer to call. Emails might seem unobtrusive, but the downside is that they are not seen as pressing by your customers. Think of it like this, if you were faced with a medical emergency you wouldn’t email to get an ambulance to come. You’d pick up the phone and call.  If you care about rescuing your sales pipeline, you’ll do the same.

Emails create back and forth, rather than a close. More often than not, customers end up making a purchase because someone is there at the right time to give them information, answer their questions, and get them what they need.  When you bank on email, you delay and ultimately miss out on that opportunity, because the customer gets search fatigue. He doesn’t want to have to email 4-5 times to get all the details he needs to make a purchasing decision-;he wants an answer so he can evaluate, purchase, and move forward. If your competitor happens to call, even while you’re busy emailing him, 9 times out of 10, the sale will go the competitor-;just because they happened to be there at the right moment.

Emails need to be a part, not the focus of, your sales process. They should be used to do one of two things: either convey a heavy dose of precise information, or recap a phone conversation you have already had.  In both instances, they should not be stand alone vehicles for making the sale. They should always be linked to a real call or live conversation with a prospect. Call the customer to engage him, then email him to confirm, if need be. Call the customer to learn about his business, and then email him the synopsis of how your solution can change the way he works. Or call the customer to converse about the questions he has, and then, send him specific pricing so he can see it all in black and white, and then call again to close. The operative term is obviously CALL-;because merely sending emails into oblivion will send your company to the same place.

Published on: Jun 28, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.