Sales Doctor—March, 2018

By Phil Bernstein,

  Filed under: Department, Sales Doctor

Contributing Writer

They Want Your Body

You’ve got a great proposal for a big client. You could present it to them in person. But that means getting in the car, driving across town, and cooling your heels in the reception room…and you’re pretty busy these days.

The other option: email. Attach the proposal, press “Send”, and call them later to follow up. Email’s fast, it’s easy, and you don’t have to pay for gas. It’s awfully attractive.

Think twice before you hit “Send.”

A study by Professors Mahdi Roghanizad (Western University) and Vanessa K. Bohns (Cornell) found that an in-person appeal was 34 times as persuasive as an email. In the study, 45 participants were instructed to each ask 10 people to complete a brief survey. There were 450 requests in all.

One group used email. The other group made the “ask” face-to-face. They used identical scripts.

How did it turn out?

The “face to face” group converted 71.5% of their prospects. The emailers didn’t come close. They persuaded only 2.1% of their prospects to complete the task—less than one out of ten.

Why is email so much less persuasive?

Those who read it may not read it closely. Busy clients may glance at the screen while multitasking, misinterpreting or completely missing important points you tried to convey.

• Your personality is missing. Text on the page can never convey the thought, enthusiasm and passion you put into your proposal.

• It’s easily ignored. Prospects get dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of emails every day. It’s easy for them to scroll past yours or delete it without reading it.

Nothing beats the persuasive power of an in-person conversation. The one thing your prospect can’t ignore is a human body in their office—your body. If you need to persuade…really persuade…a face-to-face presentation beats email 34 to 1.

Phil Bernstein is a marketing consultant and sales trainer. He works with about 200 local businesses each year. Got a question for Phil? Email him at [email protected].