We love email. It's fast, it's easy, and it stops phone tag. But it has problems. Does the other person actually receive and see the email? Or is it caught in ISP or corporate filters? If it manages to make it to the inbox, does the person open it within a reasonable time?

Even if email arrives and is opened on time, it may not cause prospects to act. Email exchanges help build relationships, but not by themselves. Phone conversations and face-to-face meetings still play an important part in interacting with customers.

Yet one reader can't seem to encourage staff to go beyond email to contact clients. Do you ever have this problem? Read on for three ways you can motivate employees to use other communication methods.

Current Marketing Challenge


How do I light a fire under employees?

We have almost 30 employees. As a manager, I see a problem with our sense of urgency when it comes to contacting prospects and following up with clients. Little things are starting to concern me.

For example, rather than pick up the phone and call clients, we email them and wait for their response. This means that projects overlap and stay open much longer than they should. Not to mention, some of our sales leads never get properly addressed.

How do I light a fire under my staff? Should I institute call quotas, provide telephone training, monitor emails?

—A frustrated manager


Email is instantly available, so it's easy to just shoot off a note to a client or prospect rather than leave a voicemail. Here are three ways to help your team avoid relying on email too much:


1. Educate employees.

2. Assign quotas.

3. Motivate employees.


Next Marketing Challenge 

How do you create buzz on the Internet today?

Click here to offer your advice or here to ask a question.


Educate employees

Though it sounds like employees email out of laziness, that's likely not the case. Some people prefer to email rather than encounter a live voice and unexpected responses.

Sales trainers all say to prepare an answer for every possible question or objection. But before that preparation happens, you must explain to the team that phone conversations and face-to-face meetings are important to build relationships as well as identify opportunities and problems. Once they understand that, help the team practice how to respond to questions and objections.

Get the team together and brainstorm about the advantages and disadvantages of various communication tools: email, phone calls, voicemail, faxes, in-person meetings and so on. Encourage employees to discuss the best times to use each. After this meeting, they should have more insight into what's effective and when to use certain communication styles.

If nothing else—avoid following up with "Did you get my email, voicemail, etc.?" That leads to an uncomfortable situation.

Assign quotas

Assigning quotas isn't simply giving people a specified number of calls they should make. Anyone can make 20 bad phone calls. The key is the resulting sales from the calls. Instead of focusing on the number of calls, try shooting for the number of sales.

Consider holding the team, rather than individuals, accountable. Team members are more likely to work together and help each other improve than compete against each other. The team could meet weekly and discuss what does and doesn't work.

Experts admit that with all this back-and-forth communication, the sales process takes longer than it did 30 years ago. Maybe it's time to adjust timelines and quotas to match today's realities.

Motivate employees

"Do as I do" still works wonders. As the manager, give it a go and make the phone calls yourself. Take notes of how the calls went and what worked. Share your experiences with employees. Also randomly select employees to share their experiences.

Try individually meeting with employees to praise, teach, advise, and do whatever works for that employee. Employees may have different motivations. Use them. Receiving compliments and kudos motivates employees to keep going and work harder. So remember to compliment them—especially in front of others—so they feel like they're doing something right.

Email complements sales communications, but conversations are better for building relationships and trust. If your staff relies too much on email, explain the need for taking advantage of multiple communications tools, give them something to shoot for, and motivate them to revitalize their energy.

Tell your team to give a good excuse for using email. Something like, "Hi, Joe. Looks like I missed you by phone, so I'm sending you an email with more information on how you can benefit from... Please call me to discuss, and I'll keep the conversation short. Thank you."

Once you try these approaches, meet with your team and show off its progress. Keep fanning the flames, and you'll fire up the team.

Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?


How can you help clients switch from old to new online marketing?

A "traditional" marketing company has decided to embrace "new" marketing techniques in order to create buzz about its product through the Internet. As the company's consultant, I have pushed Web site interactivity to engage prospective consumers in conversations.

The business leaders are suddenly "in love" with the idea of a blog because they hear the word bantered about but don't realize the commitment it takes. I think this might be too big of an embrace and isn't right for their needs.

Can you help me understand the criteria by which tools such as blogs, forums and RSS feeds can be judged as appropriate for a company looking to spread the word and educate consumers about its brand? How do you help businesses bring in the new? Should I just give them what they want, even if the trend isn't right for them? Or should I stick to my guns and explain that every technology has its place?



If you have a general situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 250,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to hear you out to help resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.

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Hank Stroll (Hank@InternetVIZ.com) is publisher at InternetVIZ, a custom publisher of 24 B2B e-newsletters reaching 490,000 business executives.