I HAD a choice. I could email or call. And that got me thinking. Which is the better way to approach a potential client, by email or telephone?
At work the Internet always is nearby and soon I was searching for studies, articles and opinion in an effort to answer that question. After a bit of time, I felt as if I did.
The answer? Here it is:
Sorry I couldn't get any more specific. Apparently, both serve different functions better than the other.
For example, the telephone call gives you an opportunity to hear the tone of a voice, to judge how the conversation is going, the back and forth is more spontaneous. A call is immediate. Dates can be set, negoitions made and issues resolved with a short call. But what can be sorted out in a five minute telephone call can take hours or days by email.
Consider if you need a response in your conversation. If so, you probably would be better served using the telephone.
On the other hand, a call can be considered intrusive. It demands the person on the other end of the line deal with you right now. Sometimes people are busy. "Phone tag" is a waste of time for you and the person you are trying to reach. An email gives them the opportunity to deal with you when it is convenient for them.
Emails also offer the time to actually consider what it is you want to say. You can craft your message and go back and edit it before sending it. You can take the time to read clever, sincere or factual. If you are addressing a complex topic, it oftentimes is better to do it by email so that you have a record of instructions given or offers made.
Email also is global, free and you have the opportunity to attach documents and other info to it.
Here is my new "This is how I'm going to approach it" rule:
Make first contacts over the telephone. Because of the more personal nature of calls and the opportunity for interaction, it is easier to begin developing a relationship with another person over the telephone and it is easier to guage their attitude.
Follow-ups by email are just fine. Let's face it, emails are darn convenient. A person can write it when they want and at their own pace. To send information or make a quick contact, email just can't be beaten.
Oh, and let's not forget the good 'ol "face-to-face." If you are good with people, it is by far the most effective way of moving a relationship forward.
This remains a work in progress. Please leave your thoughts about which works better for you - and when.