• Phone calls are now even more effective at grabbing a prospect’s attention than they used to be — because cell phones are attached to people 24/7.
  • Jeb Blount, CEO of Sales Gravy, sees too many salespeople who are afraid to pick up the phone. He shares why it’s a mistake to rely on email as your first (or only!) touchpoint.
  • Follow-up emails work when you send them to highly targeted prospects and use a hook that’s not about your company.

How many people do you know these days who complain about having to use their smartphone for its original purpose? They say “just text me,” because they aren’t going to pick up if you call. Maybe you’re even one of those people.

If you are, nobody can blame you. Texting and email are the new standards for personal and business communication, and they feel a lot less invasive than a phone call.

So, if people no longer prefer the phone, shouldn’t we avoid using it to contact prospects?

Jeb Blount of Sales Gravy says absolutely not. On an episode of the INSIDE Inside Sales podcast he claimed people answer calls and return voicemails a lot more than you’d think.

Jeb is the author of 13 books, including the cult favorite ”Fanatical Prospecting“ and his latest, “Inked.” In this chat, he shared concrete, proven advice for optimizing sales cadences that you need to hear before going after your next qualified lead. 

The problem with starting your sales cadences with email

Hands-down the biggest mistake Jeb sees is a salesperson using email as their first point of contact — and a bad email at that.

It’s twice as bad if you’re trying to manufacture a sequence of emails that you’re sending out to a list of cold leads. There’s no established history, brand recognition, or personal relationship there, so it’s no surprise when your emails are flagged as spam.

He wants us to remember that email is not prospecting; it’s marketing. “If you can sell your stuff over email, your company doesn’t need you,” says Jeb.

Always dial first

Instead of building out complex email sequences to send to leads who don’t even know you, default to the phone first.

sales cadence

It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s human.

Even if you have to leave a voicemail, you’re attaching your voice and intonation to your message — and that’s powerful stuff.

When you dial first, Jeb says, you have a higher chance of grabbing a personal interaction, which could take weeks or months (or simply never happen) if you’re only sending emails.

If you follow Jeb’s rule of thumb and start all sales cadences with a phone call, some of those prospects you called are going to hop out of your sequence and into the next funnel. With minimal time and effort, you’re able to jump them forward on the journey.

But nobody answers the phone these days — or do they?

People will tell you they don’t answer calls from unknown numbers or listen to their voicemails.  But claiming this as a reason not to call your prospects is “a complete excuse” used by people who are afraid to have conversations with other human beings, says Jeb. 

Some people do answer. And all you need is a few, especially if you’re dealing with high-ticket sales and highly targeted prospects.

The bottom line is that nobody answers a phone that doesn’t ring. In Jeb’s experience, more people are answering today than 20 years ago because they now have phones attached to them 24/7. And you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Still, it’s true that most calls will go to voicemail — but this doesn’t mean you give up. Your job is to take the time to leave a good one! A Pew Research survey showed that 67% of people won’t answer the call if they don’t recognize your number, but they’ll listen to a voicemail later.

Leaving a voicemail tells the recipient your call is important. Instead of just hanging up with no indication of who you are, you’re saying “I really want to talk to you.” Voicemails — at least the thoughtful ones — increase the probability that you’ll get a callback.

Multichannel sequencing comes after an initial phone call

Before you take the time to write an email, there must be an element of familiarity (brand recognition) in place. When the prospect has already seen your name or company pop up on the caller ID or — better yet — heard your voice, you’ve got a higher chance of having the email opened. Make sure you’ve engaged with that first phone call and/or voicemail.

cold calling

As soon as you engage with the prospect over the phone, it’s time to set the rest of your sales cadence in motion.

Choose your time frame (typically 14 to 21 days), then make use of multiple channels — social, email, phone, etc. — to ensure you’ve hit upon the prospect’s preferred method of engagement. Touchpoint by touchpoint, you’ll build out each person’s unique path to a done deal. 

Yes, one of the channel options is email. However, not the same email for everyone. Pay attention to your buyer’s stage and match it to the type of email you craft.

Jeb lays out three types of emails:

  1. Bulk: We’re used to seeing these one-to-many marketing, list-building emails from the consumer side. They’re typically most useful for inbound sales setups.
  2. Semi-customized: When you’ve got a high volume of warm leads and little time to research, you make your best guess at what their pain points are and go with this somewhat personalized option.
  3. Customized: These are reserved for your dream accounts. When you can be super-targeted and have more than one stakeholder in a single account, you’ve got to get personal with your communication.

Know which type of email you’re writing before you start a draft. Otherwise, your lack of purpose will translate to the reader’s lack of interest.

The formula for a perfect follow-up email

Getting an email right is your next crucial step. And it’s yet another place where you can go wrong if you’re not careful. But Jeb has a formula for you to follow. He says a perfect follow-up email consists of four parts:

  1. Hook: This is your subject line and first sentence. It must be about the prospect — NOT about your company. Try citing statistics about people with the same role or companies in their industry to grab their attention.
  2. Relate Statement: In your main body paragraph, you should continue focusing on the prospect’s experience, rather than on your offer.
  3. Bridge: Here’s where you can briefly propose a solution to their problem.
  4. Ask: You’ll want to ask for one simple action: an email reply, a call, a survey response, etc. If you want to include a calendar link, Jeb says to offer up a few specific free time slots within the email instead of requiring the reader to do the work.

Keep the entire email to 150-250 words to maximize your results, and select each word from a place of care. When you care enough to customize an email, you’re telling the recipient that you’ll care about their account when they become a customer.

Fall back on the power of human interaction

If you weren’t buying the idea that cold calling is still a thing in a world run by text and email, you will after hearing Jeb’s emphatic advice. 

People trust other people more than they trust canned emails that are sent to hundreds or thousands. They don’t want to feel like a number. Jeb is spot-on in saying you won’t get results from using a rinse-and-repeat process. You’re in sales because you’re dedicated to understanding people, and not all people are the same.

Instead of being a spam machine, dig deep for the courage to pick up the phone. Give your prospects human attention if you want to have any hope of building out a sales cadence with a solid foundation.

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