The words every sales rep has heard a thousand times now: “Send me an email.”
In many sales roles this is the most common objection. Thankfully I’ve also found it’s the easiest objection to handle, as long as you understand 3 things.
First, you have to understand why you’re getting this objection. In some instances I’ve found that people genuinely want an email with more information as part of the buying process. Those prospects are becoming rarer, though.
Most prospects say it to get a sales rep off the phone (because it works, too). Why would a prospect say, “Send me an email,” if they had zero interest?
Reps often battle every other objection… because there’s at least a little bit of information in that objection. Asking for an email is the nice way of saying “no.”
If you’re calling someone who has little to do with what you’re selling, often times it’s their way of avoiding the dreaded “oh, can you tell me who handles that?” question because you’ll name drop them to their colleague and get called out for sending a sales hound on their trail.
No matter what the typical reason is, figure it out and understand what’s likely going through a prospect’s head before working on a reply.
Second, you had better be ready to hold your ground. One of the most powerful sales skills to learn is to value your own time. Too often I see sales reps willing to give the prospect anything and everything he wants without knowing they will get something valuable in return. Negotiating starts long before you talk numbers, and how you handle simple objections sets the tone.
If you’re going to be successful in your sales career, learn how to hold you ground better now.
Third, why would someone benefit from taking a meeting with you? The answer to this better not be “I don’t know, I just want to hit my opp creation goal,” or even worse, “It’s sales, it’s a numbers game, I gotta sell someone!” What’s the value in that first sales meeting? Do you offer some kind of demonstration or take away that you can’t easily package in an email?
Make sure you have something to offer the prospect, because no one wants to take a sales call unless they have a reason to be actively looking to buy a solution.
Let’s say you have a pretty good idea why your prospects ask for an email. Here’s how I’d handle each of those scenarios.
Scenario 1: A 30 second pitch lacks a big enough hook to get me into a meeting.
If you read this, realized your prospects simply need to take the time to get to know you and your company a little better before taking that next step, this is still a tough one. Hang onto your enthusiasm for a moment.
Let me give you my personal experience with this specific objection.
Nine years ago I took a job managing a direct marketing team and was immediately thrown into fire.
The agency’s newest client, a SaaS startup, had us test-calling into a major market for their initial product launch. We were targeting huge food production companies and distributors, and right before I started the agency had promised 5 meetings by the time our CEO had his first in-person progress meeting.
And the only rep who was getting any success was a part-timer. He didn’t know how he got the meetings, he just knew he scheduled them.
Then one day a week before that big client check-in, I booked a meeting. That afternoon I did the same thing and got another. Breakthrough!
I was conquering the email objection.
These prospects were at least somewhat interested in learning more. My issue was that I was talking about a technology no one had ever heard of or even fathomed. It sounded like one of those things that was too good to be true, if you get what I mean.
I couldn’t get anyone interested in taking a demo or a trial until I started using this exact script:
Me: 30 second pitch, then, “Are you interested in learning more?”
Prospect: “Yeah, could you send me an email?”
Me: “Yes I can, however I can do one better – I could set up a time where you actually get to see the product in action with your team in the room. That way everyone will get a really good idea whether or not this is something you want to look deeper into, and there’s no way I can send an email that tops a product demo that takes less than half an hour. If you’re interested in checking that out, could we set that up for next week?”
Why did this reply work so well?
The key to this reply is having a valuable hook in taking that next step, something you can’t offer in an email.
Let’s walk through another scenario. Maybe you can’t do a full product demonstration on the next call, but you have another hook prospects are interested in.
One team I managed had such a hook: specific industry examples. Prospects wanted to see the work we were doing for our clients, but because everyone does their own marketing on top of what they hired an agency to do there was no way of telling the difference. On top of that every client is different, so sending over examples was a huge time-waster for everyone since no one understood why we did specific things.
Many of my reps used a variation of the same email reply that worked extremely well:
Prospect: “Can you send me an email with client examples?”
Rep: “I’m happy to send over an email, and what I’ll do is have my colleague pull together some relevant client examples for a follow up conversation. That way she can walk you through not only the work we did for similar clients, she will also walk you through the strategy behind it, show you the kinds of results we delivered, and briefly talk about how this could work for your company. After that conversation she’ll send over the presentation so you have it on file. When could we set up that follow up conversation to walk you through the examples?”
This worked because we did customized projects for every client, which is hard to showcase in an email. We’d offer our more generic case studies and testimonials if a client asked for specific examples via email, because we know if they didn’t take a half hour call they weren’t a good fit.
Scenario 2: prospect wants to get you off the phone
This is the most likely reason someone is saying they want an email. Here’s the sad part: reps fall for this line every single day. Here’s what the conversation looks like:
Prospect: “Can you send me an email?”
Rep: “Sure, can I just confirm your email first? I have it down as topcontact(@)prospect.com, is that correct?”
Prospect: “Yes it is.”
Rep: “Great, I’ll send something over and follow up with you in a few days.”
Prospect: “OK, yup, bye.”
What are the odds the prospect responds to your email or picks up your call to talk about next steps? ZERO.
(Except for random acts of kindness, generosity, and pure luck)
Here’s what happened: the prospect set up the trap and you fell into it headfirst.
Remember, asking for an email is the nice way to say “no.”
My personal favorite way of handling this objection is to understand whether or not the prospect is or could be even remotely interested in what I have to offer. Before I go over how to do it, I want you to know there are two challenges using this reply.
First off, you need to adopt the mindset that your time is valuable and you don’t want to wast your time chasing bad prospects. I’m reiterating this point now because it’s that important. This is a crucial skill to learn as a sales professional. The more time you spend on good opportunities, the more successful you will be.
Second, you should frame this approach as “I’m only trying to help you, prospect.” The more you try to help the prospect and the less you try to combat the objection, the more likely it is you’ll get what you’re looking for. Don’t fight for what you want, help the prospect out.
Here’s the approach I use. I’m going to run through this approach multiple times so you can see how I handle each specific scenario, since the prospect can respond in different ways at each juncture.
Prospect: “Can you send me an email?”
Me: “Yes I can, happy to send something over. I’m wondering though, if you like what you see will you be willing to set up an initial meeting?”
Me: “Great. So I make the best use of your time, what would be the 1-2 key things you’d want to know about this to decide whether or not you take a meeting?”
Prospect: “I’d want to know about specifics X and Y.”
If you get an answer, often these are things you can explain on the spot. Do so and close for the meeting.
Me: “Great, I can give you some more details right now instead of you sorting through a long email reply to figure it out…. <explain>…. If I’ve given you enough insights and that suits your needs, I’d recommend the next step which would be a first meeting to discuss those things in depth as well as A, B, and C <and close>.”
Sometimes the prospect will respond with things you’d address in a first meeting. My reply would be:
Me: “Thanks for letting me know. To be honest, if I sent you over an email digging into these topics it would be so long you’d never read it. We’ve had a number of customers like you ask these same questions and the best way to address them would be a follow up meeting. I’d hate to waste your time with anything other than the best next step. If you’d like to learn more, <close for the meeting>”
If you read both of those replies carefully you’ll realize I’m focusing on being helpful and practical. I’m giving the prospect what she wants. It’s not in an email and that’s fine.
What I’ve done is made a simple trade in a negotiation. The prospect wants more information and I want to schedule a (good) meeting. As long as I deliver the details and she agrees they fit what she’s thinking, then it’s win-win if she schedules a meeting.
Things don’t always go that smoothly, of course. How do you handle those scenarios?
Let’s go back to the top. Sometimes you’ll ask that first question – “Would you take a demo if you liked what you saw?” – and you will get “no” or “maybe” or something other than a firm “yes.” How do you handle that?
I personally like to be direct without being pushy.
Me: “So you asked for an email and then you told me you won’t take a deeper look at this no matter what I send you. I have two guesses – either I’m barking up the wrong tree, or you picked up the phone hoping it was someone other than a vendor cold calling you. Am I right with either guess?”
Some prospects will hang up, some will admit they’re not the right person, and some might laugh a little or give you a few more seconds. If you get those seconds ask for a call back later:
Me: “I get it, I caught you out of the blue. The reason I’m calling you is because we’ve helped companies like yours solve X and Y, and I’d hate for you to say ‘no’ only because I called you at a bad time. I’ll let you go in a few seconds, I have one ask before I go. Can I get 5 minutes later today when things aren’t as busy?”
Often times you will get a yes with a time. If they give it to you thank them and send them a calendar invite for 5 minutes at that time. Typically they will pick up more than 50% of the time.
Then there are the prospects you get to battle.
These are my favorite. A lot of people hate using this technique because it’s an arm twister. I like a bit of banter. These are the prospects who say “yes” to the meeting and then ask for the most generic info possible.
Here are a few different ways you will hear this:
Me: “So I make the best use of your time, what would be the 1-2 key things you’d want to know about this to decide whether or not you take a meeting?”
Prospect: “Just a general overview will work, thanks.”
Me: “I could do that, it would simply cover the information I’ve already told you though and I’d hate to waste your time with it. Can you help me out a little? What’s the one thing you’d like to know before taking a meeting?”
Prospect: “Nothing in particular, I’m just looking for a high-level overview first.”
Me: “I understand, the thing is that I’ve already gone over what would be in a high-level overview email. So I can be as helpful as possible, can you tell me what’s missing at this point?”
There are dozens of ways of saying the exact same thing (and some prospects will do this a handful of times before finally giving you a real reply). Find one that suits you and typically you’ll only have to say it once to make it clear that you have no new info to give them unless they tell you a little bit more about what they are looking for.
It’s challenging to do this for a lot of reps, though. Focus on being helpful, respecting both your and the prospect’s time, and standing your ground, and you will have a tremendous amount of success with this objection.
There’s one thing I want to add real quick.
The hardest part about handling objections is that there’s no magic answer. Not a single reply will work every time. The name of the game is to get the best results possible from your calls, not to get everyone to say “yes.” If you keep that in mind and work on getting better it will be 100 times easier get shot down.
What’s your experience handling “Send me an email?”