Think using the phone as a sales tactic is dead? We’ve certainly written a lot about the demise of cold calling, but recent data points out the phone isn’t as old-school as we thought — in fact, it’s just being reborn.
Texting is probably the most common form of communication today. Unless you’re giving out your number, our phones have usually immune to spam or sales calls/texts. Most of us use our phones primarily to contact friends, family, peers or co-workers.
This intimacy is why texting can be leveraged as the perfect social selling technique. I will say this with caution though, because in my experience for the medium to be used effectively, it must be used sparingly and carefully.
Harris Poll recently conducted a study and found that 81% of people in the U.S. are sick of having to endure a sales call or even “computer session.” Interestingly, 64% say they would prefer to handle these sales or service conversations over text messaging.
It’s not just a convenience thing, either. Catalina Toma, an assistant professor of communication arts at University of Wisconsin, Madison, recently found that text messaging yields higher response rates and is associated with more positive emotions over email or phone.
Turns out, the medium is the message. OneReach, a text-messaging solutions company, compiled a list of statistics that support the benefits of text messaging over phone calls or emails.
- 97% of American smartphone users send or receive text messages (Pew).
- 79% of smartphone users have their phone on or near them for all but two hours of their waking day (IDC).
- The open rate of SMS is 98% compared to 22% for emails (Mobile Marketing Watch).
- Text messages can be 8x more effective at engaging customers (Cellit).
- 80% of financial services firms are currently using or plan to use text messages with customers and employees (IDC).
Call these stats biased, but I’d say the sources are diversified enough to support an overall trend in text messaging effectiveness for initiating sales conversations.
Before you jump on your phone and start texting a prospect, make sure to follow some etiquette. The last thing you want is to misuse the medium and scare prospects away.
Don’t assume your prospect knows who you are! Imagine receiving a text from a number you didn’t know, asking to meet or talk further about something professional. A little creepy, right? Best practices would have you include your name and company at the top of every message, in case your contact information isn’t saved in the prospects phone.
(for example purpose only)
The kind of messaging you craft will affect how it’s interpreted. You want to triple-check your message doesn’t carry a negative tone. Treat this like any other business correspondence: use proper grammar, complete sentences to convey professionalism.
Short and Sweet
Texts are read on phones, not computers. Screens are smaller, and so are attention spans. Be concise with what you want to say — maybe a little longer than a Tweet, around 250 characters. Again, don’t ramble or bring up irrelevant, non-work-related topics. And please, don’t use emoticons unless that form of communication has already been established with the prospect. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution.
Avoid Periods at all costs.
Ever received a text and been completely thrown off by the tone? It’s not only you. Researchers led by Celia Klin at Binghamton University found when people end their texts with periods, subjects found the response to be “less sincere than when no punctuation was used.” Just something to keep in mind when crafting that perfect message.
What are you waiting for?
When examined closely, the numbers are astounding: 8 trillion texts were sent last year! 95% of those were read within 3 minutes. But only 14% of phone calls to businesses were answered, and only 12% of emails were ever opened at all!
The cold, hard stats don’t lie. If you want to reach your audience, and make sure they can reach you, the clear solution is to text. But remember, like any business deal, there is a defined set of etiquette and rules around the medium.