Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Coming on September 22: Email vs. Phone vs. In-Person Meeting? Four Viewpoints

Reading Brian Carroll's blog this morning I see an interesting debate coming up later in the month. What's most effective when maintaining and developing relationships with clients - email, telephone, face-to-face?

I often wonder about this one myself: is the telephone too intrusive when someone's only downloaded a whitepaper? Is it really a question of the tone used? does email force us to be too structured and miss other clues? Can we afford face-to-face for developing relationships? Do our sales colleagues have the skill or motivation to develop relationships rather than close deals?

Will be interesting to see the arguments from 4 distinguished bloggers...

Details here.

2 comments:

Paul Stewart said...

Horses for Courses

I was stimulated by Pete Jakob’s take on the upcoming Email vs Phone vs Face2Face ‘wars’.

Human nature delights in difference, and each person (thank goodness) makes decisions in a different way, one preferring to discuss, another to spend time in private, yet another to seek input and reassurance from multiple sources before coming to a conclusion. In a B2B context, we should be in a position to be sensitive and match each preference. Pete, as an input to your question of intrusiveness or tone or affordability of face-to-face relationship development, I am convinced that we have to try all ways, settle on the best horse for each course and ride it. Economics and the customer will decide.

Developing a relationship seems to be the key. The truism that people buy from people is never truer than in buying a B2B solution, normally a combination of product and service, perhaps also definable as something that can go wrong, most probably needing after-sales treatment! So a strong personal relationship of trust is like a buyer’s guarantee. Every buyer should have one.

In this competitive world, one can be sure that, if our sales or service guy doesn’t have that relationship, someone else will.

I look forward 22nd September. Keep up the good work.

Pete Jakob said...

Paul
Thanks very much for your comment. I can't disagree with the horses for course sentiment, but my own suspicion is that it has more to do with content and tone than delivery mechanism. If someone has responded and is very early in their own buying cycle, a message of "so are you ready to buy yet?" is not likely to be well received whether it's delivered via email, phone or face-to-face. If someone has downloaded a whitepaper from your site I would have thought the message should be along the lines of "thanks for downloading, I wonder did it raise any questions I could help you with?". So you're probably right that economics and practical experience in the marketplace will determine the most productive delivery mechanism.