Looking for a way to sell more? Stop focusing on everything digital. Is your web presence important? Sure. Are you ubiquitous on social media? Congratulations. Are you employing some great automated email campaigns to keep your customers in the know? Fantastic. But most importantly, are you picking up the phone and actually talking to your potential customers? If you are choosing to do all your prospecting via digital means, chances are, you’re losing a lot of opportunities to connect to, communicate with, and close clients. Here are 5 reasons the phone still needs to be a part of your sales process in order to sell more.
1. The phone is the only way to find out quickly if you are talking to the decision maker. Imagine you have a list of leads that gives you the name of the company, a named principal, and the contact information. You email over and over again, with no response. You reach out on LinkedIn and come up dry. Finally, you call only to find out that principal listed has a partner who handles this question, is no longer managing the day to day activities of the company, has retired, etc. Now imagine all the time you wasted happily digitally nurturing the wrong person.
2. The phone is the only way to ask questions and require answers. As a society, we have been groomed to understand that when someone asks you a question out loud, you answer it. Email has short circuited that expectation. People you haven’t yet met don’t feel obligated to reply to your query, they simply delete. Get them on the phone and you still have that good old-fashioned expectation of some type of reply. Whether the response is short or long, it is an opening to learn more about your potential customer and what he might be in need of.
3. The phone is the only way to avoid misunderstanding. When you contact people in digital format, what you write can be read in many ways–there is no chance for conversation, clarification, or explanation. Customers misread, misconstrue, and mistake what your value proposition is, and you’ll never even know. Call them on the phone, and you have a chance to tune into their apprehensions, concerns, and qualms, and resolve them on the spot.
4. The phone is the only way to get a quick commitment. Digital interaction, by nature, is designed to be examined when it’s convenient for the prospect, not for the seller. While it may be a good way to get an idea in front of a customer, it’s a terrible way to close a sale. It allows a customer to push the idea aside, focus on other things, and often forget about it. The phone offers immediacy. Dialogue demands attention, attention develops into consideration, and consideration results in a decision.
5. The phone is the only way to build relationships. Despite the fact that much of the population today is content with having a bevy of online correspondents, strong relationships only happen when the online partners really begin talking/meeting with one another outside of the digital realm. Sales happen when that relationship develops. The faster you take it offline, the better your shot at closing a transaction, inspiring repeat business, and preventing attrition.
Don’t get me wrong, digital has a purpose, but the phone still has a place in your sales cycle. Automate away, but don’t stop dialing.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.