Top-Shelf Tip No. 176:

"An email can make or break a potential opportunity for you, so send and respond to them wisely."

Leila Lewis

Six Sales Questions Never To Ask Over Email

When you email a client or prospect, how purposeful are you? Do you communicate to strengthen the relationship, or do you tend to ask mundane questions that don't solidify the connection? Jeff Hoffman, a sales executive and entrepreneur, has some thoughts on the worst questions to ask over email. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share these questions along with tips on how to get deals back on track.

Question No. 1: "Do you prefer to communicate over phone or email?" Hoffman often hears, "But my prospect prefers communicating over email," or "They just won't get back to me on the phone." He urges sales professionals to never ask a prospect whether they prefer to communicate over phone or email. Use both forms of communication but know when to choose one over the other. And, when in doubt, use the phone. When a prospect says, "When can we get a demo scheduled?" or "I think we're ready to sign. I just have one question," pick up the phone and say, "I'm glad to hear you're ready for a demo! What do you hope to learn from this meeting?" You'll gain more context, be better able to prepare and be able to schedule a meeting in real time. Work a little harder and get your prospect on the phone.

Question No. 2: "Can I give you a call?" Don't ask for permission to call or meet with your prospect. Ask for their cell phone or direct number as early in the relationship as possible-ideally before you schedule the first meeting or discovery call. To break the ice, Hoffman offers his cell phone number first. For example, he'll say, "Great. It looks like we're all set for Tuesday at 9 am. My cell number is 123-456-7890, what's yours?"

Question No. 3: "When would you like to reschedule?" If a prospect reschedules, you know the chances of them rescheduling again skyrockets. If your prospect sends a last-minute email asking to push a meeting because they need more time, pick up the phone immediately and say, "We can absolutely reschedule. When's your next availability?" Hoffman advises that sales professionals remain flexible with their schedules but firm on slotting a new meeting within a week of the original date.

Question No. 4: "Who is the person you Cc'd on your last email?" Hoffman says that if he is in the middle of an email thread with a prospect and they Cc someone new, he picks up the phone immediately. He needs to find out who this person is and why they're important to the conversation. Instead of immediately asking who the Cc'd individual is, he asks the prospect to clarify part of their question. Then, he follows their answer with, "By the way, who is Caroline Gilbert? I noticed she was Cc'd on our last email."

Question No. 5: "What did you think of the meeting last week?" By asking for feedback, you give your prospect an invitation to think about what didn't go well. Your prospect's opinion shouldn't impact your performance. Your performance should already be stellar. When asking for feedback over email, you're basically saying, "I'm chasing you to determine what you think of me." If you need feedback, ask for it immediately. If you have a meeting, ask how your prospect thinks it went before you get off the call.

Question No. 6: "When would you like me to reach out to start this up again?" If the customer says they need to delay, don't ask them when they'd like you to touch base. Instead, Hoffman recommends saying, "Thanks for the update." You don't need to ask for permission to contact them again.

Avoid reaching out with the wrong questions via email and don't be afraid to pick up the phone. Consider the guidance above before communicating with your prospects.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jeff Hoffman is a renowned sales executive and entrepreneur who consults with industry leaders on the topics of sales, sales management and sales operations.

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