E-Mailing Potential and/or Existing Customers
Posted: November 6, 2009
I have been writing this column for more than five years. About three years ago, I remember chastising those sales people who would engage in the practice of e-mailing potential and/or existing customers trying to set up an appointment or following through on a sales call. At the time, I would have been appalled at the thought that someone would have considered communicating with me about a sales opportunity via the Internet instead of calling me personally by phone.
When I wrote that column, I received e-mail messages from some of the most respected sales executives in the local business community. They all told me that I did not realize the impact of the Internet and I should just deal with the fact that most communication comes in the form of e-mail. Keep in mind, these individuals who took the time to call or respond to that editorial were all in their 50's. Now, I realize that there is value in following up on sales leads through the electronic media, even it means my old-school methods have to take a back seat. I now understand why some long-time sales reps have made it so long in their industry - they were willing to embrace change, especially if it made the day more efficient.
I would never make a cold call via the Internet, however I realize that there are times when it is beneficial to follow up on subscription and advertising sales leads through e-mail. However, I have also learned the value in making sure the subject heading on an e-mail regarding a pending sales appointment or advertising schedule should be concise. In addition, the e-mail message should be short and clear-especially if you do not personally know the individual you are corresponding with.
I think e-mail could be a very useful tool to gauge a company's level of customer service. Whether it be a short survey or just a "thank you", I have been impressed by the firms that I do business with that take the time to follow up and make sure that I was pleased with their product or service. (Although I confess that I can't stand filling out surveys).
Lastly, proofread any e-mail that relates to a sales call. Write, edit, re-read and send. I often print out my outgoing messages before hitting the "send" button. That way, I am not having to follow up an e-mail message with another e-mail or phone call explaining why the original electronic message did not make any sense.
I guess I have finally converted to using e-mail as a business and sales tool - even if it is just a small part of the modern age of communication.