For many years, men and women working in sales have debated back and forth about the proper method for reaching out to potential prospects for their companies. When reaching out to a new customer for the first time, is it better to send an email first or pick up the phone and call them?

After all, first impressions are everything.

How to approach the potential customer

When someone is unsure about how to approach a potential customer, consider sending them an email before picking up the phone. A short email message makes more sense because the customer does not have to answer your questions the second they receive them.

A well-developed email message shows the customer that somebody took the time to research their needs. The email can much better explain a product’s value proposition. The value of the product to the customer should be thoroughly explained in the body of the email so they’re clear on what is being offered to them.

However, there is one exception to an email-first approach. If the potential customer is already aware of the services provided by your company, then they will know if they want to call and ask for more information before making a purchase.

Other alternatives to email or call

Companies often overlook the value of using a mutual friend or business owner to get an introduction. A referral is more likely to get the potential customer to engage, especially coming from someone they trust. After the mutual connection introduces both parties, then a secure line of communication can be established. The client may have a preference for calling or emailing and the lead can be taken from there.

Avoid cold calling and spam messages at all costs

Avoid contacting a potential client without doing research first. They probably receive enough spam messages already and will just ignore yours. The client is not going to take the time out of their day to listen and respond to a message that is not relevant to what they do. The initial email sent to a customer should explain how your business can add value to that person or company.

While these suggestions for how to correctly follow up with a sale prospect can help guide your sales pitch, remember, they are just suggestions. What strategies work for one company or individual may not work well for other individuals. Try an email-first approach with a dozen clients first, and then use a call-first approach with another dozen clients, and compare the results.