To Email or Not to Email? That is the Question!

Devon-McDonald by

There are two trains of thought when it comes to the first action item in a outbound prospecting scenario:

A. A lead generator sends an introductory email to a prospect prior to making the first call in order to “warm up” the lead.

B. A lead generator first calls into a prospect hoping to catch them live and engage in meaningful conversation. An email is sent after the first touch-point (whether that is voicemail or conversation).
Different sales managers have different opinions about sending the email first, vs. calling the prospect first and in recent weeks, this topic has come up more than once around the OpenView office.
Here are some reasons to send the email prior to the call:

  • The call is warmer, and you can say, “I just wanted to follow up from my email.” It gives more legitimacy to your call.
  • You may get some immediate interest from the email recipients, which will help you prioritize your calling order.
  • When having the conversation, you can ask your prospect to refer to your email for a visual representation of your product (if you had included an attachment).

Here are some reasons NOT to send the email first:

  • Your email could be considered spam, and you may get blocked/reported.
  • You are giving your prospect an easy out to just say, “No thanks- not interested. Take me off of your list.”
  • Unless you have a marketing team fully committed to your outbound efforts, your email message/supporting content may lack true clarity and could be misinterpreted by the prospect.

As expansion stage venture capital investors, we are committed to coaching our portfolio companies on sales best practices, particularly outbound prospecting. On the labs team, we have resources committed to lead generation services for our investments that are looking to build their pipelines with new opportunities generated through cold calling efforts.

OpenView appreciates the value of high-quality content to sell most effectively, and at the end of the day, an email is an important form of content in the sales cycle. If you have tested content that resonates with your target market, and you are certain that you have correct email addresses on your lead list – I say go for it. Send the email prior to the first cold call. The warmer the lead, the better.

However, if your content is still a work in progress, and your lead lists’ email addresses are dicey, just pick up the phone and TALK to the prospect rather than potentially turning them off through a sub-par email blast. Remember, first impressions are everything. Confirm their email address during the call and find out what content makes the most sense to share with him/her based on their specific needs/pain points.

What are your thoughts on the email then call/vs. call then email in a lead generation role? I know that there are some strong opinions out there about this topic, so please leave a comment with your preference on the subject matter.