I was recently asked what I thought about texting Sales Prospects. Here is my response; it really depends on the industry and the individual prospect.
First some stats*:
As of January 2020, 292 million people in North America use text messages – that’s 80% of the total population.
The country with the highest percentage of mobile users is Russia where 89% of the population sends and receives text messages.
China and India have the most people who send SMS messages – China comes first with 1,081 million people and India second with 730 million.
For prospects who actively text, texting CAN be a HIGHLY effective way to follow-up and keep in touch with them. Some people totally avoid using the phone wherever possible and for them, it may actually be NECESSARY to use texts to interact.
But there are still many industries, especially white-collar organizations in the US, which have not yet embraced texting. Texting a prospect there may be a turn off, or worse yet, may never even be seen!
The same is true of some of the older “C suite” occupants. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good fit or a strong prospect, it just means that texting might not be their ideal choice of platform. And making the prospect COMFORTABLE it key. Texting them, if they are not used to texting, could be the reason you don’t get an appointment. Why take that chance?
We often talk about how you should ‘mirror’ a prospects tone, speech patterns and speed. This helps create a connection and builds trust. The same applies to your messaging. If they are phone people, pick up the phone to connect. If they are wedded to texting, by all means, text them. If you aren’t sure, pick up the phone and ASK THEM.
I also want to caution Salespeople who use texts, to be sure they are not using it as a crutch. In my training experience, I have seen many people who prefer to use texts for outreach, rather than picking up the phone. Yes, it can be easier, and it can give you a (false) sense of control, but it is NOT an effective way to Cold Call and is especially ineffective for building relationships.
Remember, Cold Calling is NOT about SELLING but about creating RELATIONSHIPS. Interaction doesn’t happen on platforms like texting – at best, it is just a messaging platform. The phone allows you to interact, hear, and really LISTEN to the prospect. And then you can pivot and respond appropriately. There are way too many ways to miss what is being said (or being left unsaid) when texting so keep it to appointment confirmations and quick follow-ups.
Another caution is that it can be very easy to get too ‘casual’ when texting. I know that I personally DISLIKE it when someone I don’t know sends me a text or email with a really casual opening like ‘Hey Nan’ or ‘Hi Nance!’. If you are going to use texts, keep them professional. They don’t have to be FORMAL but don’t get too ‘friendly’ in your messages with the Prospect until you are actually that comfortable in person.
Note that I am not asking or concerning myself here with which communication mode the SALESPERSON prefers. That is not a factor. The goal is to identify the platform or mode that the PROSPECT is most comfortable with and then utilize that. For those of you who are not yet comfortable texting, you may want to consider it. If nothing else, it is yet another communication tool for your toolbelt.
As salespeople, we need to take advantage of ALL the tools available to us. Texting is a valuable one for some – use it where appropriate but don’t rely on it exclusively.