Should salespeople ever text sales prospects?

Sending a text. It’s quick, convenient and unobtrusive. You don’t need to worry about interrupting someone’s work or meeting when you send a text.

In sales, sending a text has become increasingly normal.

Younger generations prefer texting to calling, and once you’ve arranged a meeting, or met at a networking event or conference, most salespeople have the benefit of knowing a prospects cell number. Account management also involves keeping those cell phone numbers close at hand, especially when you are arranging to meet a client in-person.

Although it might seem informal, texting a prospect is seen as a useful way to stay in contact and move relationships forward in the sales pipeline. According to multiple studies, it seems there are some good reasons to text sales prospects and accounts.

Much higher open rates

If you want to get through to someone, calls can be ignored and evaded. Emails often go unread, with only 22% of prospecting emails opened, according to Mobile Marketing Watch. In comparison, 98% of texts are opened and another study found that 9 out of 10 are opened within 3 minutes.

Texting is only one medium, of course. Despite its convenience, you can’t conduct entire prospect conversations or pitches via text. But it does pave the way for phone calls and sales meetings. Or you can use this opportunity to jump onto an online instant demo or live chat, getting a chance to understand the prospect’s needs better, ask and answer questions, and demo your product or service.

But, if you are going to benefit from sending a quick text, then you need to go about this the right way. Here are a few simple guidelines for salespeople wanting to use texts in the pipeline.

#1: Call beforehand

Sending a cold text significantly reduces your chances of getting a callback. It is seen as lazy and too forward.

Research shows that when you text before connecting with a new prospect on the phone they are 40% less likely to respond and 4.9% less inclined to buy anything than if you’d taken the time to call first. The upside is, if you text after you’ve spoke, you have a much better chance of staying on a buyer’s radar, with conversion rates double that of prospects contacted via email after an initial call.

#2: Ask permission to text

Not everyone wants texts from salespeople or account managers; it all depends on how a prospect/account prefers to communicate and industry norms. In some sectors, such as financial services, regulatory compliance makes it better to keep everything to email.

So, ask permission on the call, sell the benefits (e.g., many customers prefer it and it is a quicker way of getting you information), and imply the convenience of this medium over another email in an already busy inbox. With this door open, it also makes it easier to arrange an instant demo or live chat, as a way of having a more convenient, less time-consuming meeting with the prospect.

#3: Keep it professional

When texting sales prospects, stick to questions, answers, information and planning either to arrange a call/meeting or an instant demo. Keep away from text shorthand (e.g. LOL, OMG, IMHO), GIFs, emojis, pictures, videos and make sure, if your phone uses autocorrect, that you’ve not inadvertently said something silly. It’s fine to text links when needed, e.g. to a screen sharing session or an Instant Demos call-to-action offering them an instant callback.

Despite texts and social media making us more expressive and instantly communicative, salespeople would benefit from approaching sales texts with the same professionalism as emails. Which also means sending them, ideally, during office hours, not 10pm on a Friday or Saturday night. Or even a Sunday, unless you’ve agreed to contact someone then to confirm a call or meeting on Monday morning.

So, should a salesperson ever text a prospect? The answer is a resounding yes. When everyone wants everything instantly, a text can be even better than an email, more likely to be read and can improve the chances of meeting a potential buyer and increasing conversion rates.