There are many ways to find and contact potential customers today. However, two of the older ways still remain among the most popular – cold calls and emails. Both ways are effective in initiating conversation with potential customers.
If you ask salespeople which method they prefer, some will favor calls, and others will swear by emails. Both methods have their perks and downfalls. Does one really work better than the other? Maybe you should be utilizing both? Find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of each.
The Cold Call Pros
Cold calling has a bad reputation. When you hear the word cold call, I’m sure a negative connotation pops into your head. Many sellers don’t want to cold call and therefore want to believe that cold calling is dead.
“Both buyers and sellers agree: cold calling works, and it’s still one of the most effective ways to generate initial sales conversations” (Rain Group). Cold calling is second to email and above all other forms of contacting buyers.
One of the biggest advantages of cold calling is the control the sales rep has over the conversation. This live-action conversation allows for faster responses and reaction time.
#1 Cold calls allow for faster responses
You can reach prospects quickly with cold calling, and faster responses do save you time and hassle. Pitching a product/service and waiting for a response can be nerve racking. With phone calls, you save the hassle and time of waiting around wondering if that prospect is going to want to make a deal.
Immediate responses also give sales reps the advantage of listening to the needs and doubts of the prospects. This way, they can respond right away with reassurance of benefits the product or service can bring them. It can kill doubt instantaneously and not permit it to build up.
Instant responses allow reps to deal with the “no” conversation immediately too. Sales reps can ask for a reason (instead of waiting for another email) and work through a solution right away with the prospect. This also gives the prospect something more to think about. So if you do have to go into a follow-up email, they aren’t coming in at a no. It gives sales reps more insight from the first call too, to build a better follow-up conversation.
It is easier to convince someone of the benefits of the product/service if their mind isn’t already made up.
#2 You can get more personal
It’s all about getting personal these days. The more personal, the easier it is to grab the customer’s attention and keep them hooked.
Cold calls are much more convenient when it comes to inserting that personal touch in a conversation and demonstrating emotion. You can receive immediate feedback on the prospect’s personal and work life and get a feel for their personality to use to your advantage. Adjusting your tone and where the conversation is going works a lot faster and easier over the phone. You can build a connection with a prospect in a matter of seconds.
Talking over the phone gives sales reps a chance to establish a personal connection immediately, something that is much harder to do online. The more you learn about a prospect, the easier it is to direct them towards a certain product/service that would work best for them.
#3 You can explore more opportunities
The more you talk with someone, the more you learn about them. With a one-on-one live conversation, a sales representative can direct their full attention to the prospect to explore their wants and needs. If nothing stood out to the client during the initial pitch as something that would help them, a phone call allows you to explore more opportunities you have available with them.
Cold calling gives sales reps that initial feedback we talked about and gives them a chance to steer the prospect towards another product/service that might be perfect for them. If the product or service does not quite go with their needs at the time, you can also still gain valuable insights about the consumer. Considering these insights, you can develop new directions you might want to grow the business.
The Cold Email Pros
This strategy is used by a lot more people than just sales representatives. Many professionals and individuals send cold emails.
#1 Cold Emails are time efficient and less frustrating
The new world of email automation trumps having to reach out to each prospect (such as in cold calling) when it comes to saving time. The initial email to prospects doesn’t have to be completely personal, and because of this, we can send mass emails. With a single click, you can send the same email to a large number of recipients, upping your time efficiency and boosting productivity.
Cold emails also allow prospects to get in touch when it’s convenient for them. This makes the recipient less likely to be frustrated because they can reply at their own paste. Emails are less interruptive than phone calls.
With emails, sales reps don’t have to take time out of their day to try and to reach each prospect. It is especially frustrating finally reaching a prospect via phone and getting a “no.” Email takes away the more personal touch of actually hearing no.
#2 Cold emails can attract visually
Our attention is drawn to things we find attractive, and therefore the more attractive a message, the easier it will be to catch a potential customer’s attention and get them to stick around to learn more. Emails allow you to script a professional and eye-catching message.A sales representative’s message placed on a visually attractive layout will make the overall pitch that much more appealing. A visually pleasant email can take away a lot of the “cold” factor in reaching out to prospects.
Email personalization is also attractive to a reader. The tone, visual aspect, and message are all something you can personalize to match a specific segment or individual group. Find out the demographics and psychographics or the segment or individual and adjust your message accordingly. The goal is to lure customers in, and as long as you have an eye-catching, informative layout this is a sure way to do it.
#3 You can be more informative
With the option to add attachments and links to aid in a sales rep’s explanation, emails can be a lot more informative. Attachments and links such as documents, infographics, promo material, learn more pages, etc. help tell a more detailed story.
It allows for your thoughts to be more succinct than a cold call no matter how many times you practice. The sender has more time to think and can read over the content in the email making it sound much more polished. This way the sender can get everything across they hoped to inform the prospect on without fear of being misheard or forgetting to add something. It’s also an advantage to the recipient, as they can read and reply to the email at their paste. They don’t have to feel rushed to reply and can think overall the questions they have to ask.
#4 You have the ability to track and forward messages
Email software allows you to track many different things including, the open rate, successful deliveries, click rate on specific links, your prospect’s replies, and whatever else you find valuable. These stats help inform you on what’s working and what improvements you need to make in pitching your product/service to new customers.
Email tracking even allows you to track the number of forwards, which is a big advantage for cold emailing. Sending emails means that there is a chance your message will get passed along to others. While this can happen with cold calling too… emails have your message laid out how you presented it and not how the customer remembered it. The ability for receivers to forward your message gives you not only free brand awareness but free referrals too.
If there are many pros to each then what are the cons?
The Cold Call Cons
#1 Frustrating the prospect and yourself
No one likes their time being wasted, especially on something that wouldn’t fit their profile. Without proper research before reaching out, you can surely frustrate the prospect.
Even with ample research misspeaking or not knowing a specific fact can cause frustration by the prospect. If you’re reaching out, you should know who they are, what they do, and how your product/service can specifically help them.
Since cold calling is unscheduled, you might be reaching the prospect at a bad time, resulting in frustration and possibly turning them off permanently. It also can result in you becoming frustrated when you go through a dry spell of unanswered calls, hang-ups, or negative replies. Upfront rejection can be discouraging. Cold calls make it easy to put yourself in a vulnerable position.
Empty promises made with cold calling are frustrating. Prospects can promise anything over the phone just to get rid of you, then ignore the follow-ups.
#2 Cold Calls are difficult to handle and time consuming
Not everyone is a pro speaker and has the natural ability to be upbeat and positive all the time. Cold calls also require salespeople to be persuasive when speaking and quick on their feet. Not everyone can come up with a quick counteroffer, and when cold calling it’s an important skill to have.
Cold calls must be handled one at a time, you cannot contact multiple contacts at the same time as you can email. One contact at a time means more time spent per prospect and the higher the risk of your time being wasted. I don’t even want to go into the fact you can have an hour-long conversation that still ends in a no. Talk about frustrating!
#3 Cold Calls can harm the reputation
People get frustrated for all sorts of reasons, and an unexpected interruption or negative conversation can cause them to build a negative image. One bad call can shift to the whole company, and a negative image could mean a lack of respect and trust in the company by not only that customer but anyone they share their experience with.
The Cold Email Cons
#1 Cold Emails don’t yield immediate response
There’s a huge gap in the response rate for emails. You could hear back immediately from a prospect or two weeks later, there really is no saying when, as it’s reliant on the prospect. You also don’t know whether a prospect is planning to reply later or maybe not at all. You can, of course, send a follow-up email if you haven’t heard back in a while (that does mean extra effort on your part though).
#2 Cold Emails are subject to delivery issues
Cold emails can never reach your prospects, never be opened, or never read, and you have no control over it. With a call, you can more easily force someone to listen, but with an email, there is no courtesy or force for you to get a prospect to read or even open the email.
There can also be an issue with the email in which it never gets delivered to the prospect or goes immediately to their spam folder. Spam filters can be the death of cold emails, and they’re only getting better.
Email may be convenient, but it’s not the most reliable.
#3 Cold emails require certain skills
Cold emails require a different set of skills than most salespeople have. Since they must be visually and collectively appealing to catch people’s attention, the creator needs to have great design and copywriting skills.
If the email is poorly designed with bad copy, the recipient will be reluctant to read it. The email has to be captivating and you have to have someone will the skills to make it so.
Which strategy should you use then?
The Rein Group did a study and found that email outranked cold calling in terms of being the preferred and actual method of contacting prospects. It also shows though, that email and phone calls are the top methods for contacting prospects.
With all the pros and cons weighed side by side, we say whichever strategy meets your strengths is the one you should be using, even if that means both. You don’t have to put all your efforts towards one strategy, especially because email is a lot less time consuming than cold calling, allowing you room to do, or even just try, both.
Finding the strategy that works best for you and using the other to follow-up with prospects is also a great strategy. This will help you develop client retention skills, be more involved with your prospect, and build up your skills in whichever is weaker.
Both these strategies are a great way to reach prospects and build new clients. These tactics are here to help you create a real connection with your audience and help meet their needs and solve their problems with your product/service.
Make sure you are always adding a personal touch, whether it be over the phone or via email to help build more meaningful relationships.