Email – a great means of keeping in touch with your colleagues, and for routine communication with your customers. Email for keeping in touch with people whom you would like to have as customers – or customers who aren’t happy -- not so good.
If you’re building trust and a relationship, email is of marginal value. (I don’t feel I have a relationship with a Nigerian prince who just needs my help to get money out of his country. Do you?) And if you’re trying to right a perceived wrong, email is less effective than a personal connection.
The problem: email is getting used for ALL KINDS of communication now, including communication with prospects, and in delicate client-care situations. If you’re addicted to email as the answer to every communication need, stop a moment and ask yourself if your addiction is hurting your relationships.
Sometimes I get the sense that people would prefer not to deal with humans – so they put out one-way email messages to make their points and then return to the sanctuary of their computer screens, rather than getting involved in the messy business of dealing with other people.
To quote a polarizing American media figure, “So, how’s that workin’ for ya?”
What we know is that some people refuse to communicate through any means other than email. For those people, your email communication is appropriate.
For everyone else, though, take a moment to think before you click “New” and start typing. Is this a prospect who hasn’t yet decided whether to trust you? If so, can you meet briefly in person, or, at the very least, pick up the phone?
If you leave a caring voicemail, and offer something compelling in that voicemail to encourage the person to return your call, the voicemail itself is closer to a personal touch than the email.
Keep in mind the very high proportion of customers who list themselves as “Satisfied”, but then change suppliers. Give your customers the personal touch, too, whenever you can, but especially when they are less than delighted.
We know that time spent face-to-face and phone-to-phone (F2F and P2P) with prospects is strongly positively correlated with success in selling. I suspect the same is true in caring for clients.
I’ve seen no data about a correlation between E2E communication and selling success. And I, for one, don’t feel particularly cared for when a supplier of services emails me a response to a complaint!
The next time you need to communicate with prospects or customers, move away from the mouse and pick up the phone. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
Lenann McGookey Gardner, CSP, is a Harvard MBA and a seasoned industry executive. She works with professionals in accounting, consulting, research, consumer products, telecommunications, banking and technology industries. An international speaker, she is the author of Got Sales: The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services, which was nominated for the Axiom Business Book Award as the best sales book of the year. Profiled in Who’s Who in America every year since 2004, she serves as an executive coach to professionals around the world. Visit her websites: http://YouCanSell.com and http://YouCanLeadCoaching.com.