E-mail Marketing Versus Phone Contact

E-mailing is quick and cheap, but the telephone may be more effective.August 7, 2008

I've considered buying a list of e-mail addresses (if one exists) of builders, designers and architects in my area, and sending out an introductory e-mail for my shop, which does high end residential cabinetry. Has anyone had success with this?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor J:
Try this instead. Call the builders in your area that you want to do business with. Ask to speak to the project managers. Tell them who you are and what you do. Ask for their e-mail and offer to send them some photos of your work. Don't forget to ask them for work. You will get a much better response and a bigger bang for your buck than purchasing a list and doing a mass mailing.

From contributor D:
I agree - I think mass mailings end up in the junk folder and get deleted before they are even looked at.

From contributor A:
I wish I could give you good news. It cost me $600 for a database of 3000 GCs, interior designers and architects in a 120 mile radius. Bulk mail cost was $820 and $550 for customized postcards. The outcome was 2 phone calls and one visit, and no job was done. I support contributor J's advice.

From contributor R:
A couple months back I decided to try this. I looked up a few designers in the phonebook and web that were close to me and sent out approximately 8 emails. Total time invested was one hour, total dollars invested was zero. Return... So far, 25K in signed contracts and approximately 35K upcoming. I had bid over 150K from these leads, but did not get all of them. If you spend a few minutes finding your own leads, I don't think it is necessary to spend a lot of money to buy leads. However, I do subscribe to a construction info newsletter that supplies me with plenty of leads from building permit apps.

From contributor T:
While all the electronics make things easier, I still think that the most effective form of introducing yourself is in person.

From contributor F:
I agree with contributor J's advice. I would come up with a list of questions and do a phone survey. After you introduce yourself and your company, ask the questions and discuss your business with them. The survey may be better received than a sales call. You also may not want to do business with all the people you call. To come up with a list of companies to call I would do searches in Yahoo yellow pages and print them out. In Yahoo yellow pages you can search by zip code and the results will be ranked in miles from that zip code.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the good advice. I was trying to avoid what looks like the inevitable, picking up the phone and making these calls, as I'm horrendous at it. I'll work on what to say, and give it a shot, as it looks like that is the way to go.

From contributor F:
I have 10 years experience in sales, and I can say from experience it gets easier as you do it. If you could role play with a friend over the phone it would help work out what you want to say and get their feedback of how you come across. This also helps with the self confidence.

From contributor J:
Simple is best! Try this script and see if it works for you.

"Hi. My name is Jim with ABC Cabinet Shop. Can I speak with the person who solicits bids for your projects?"

Once you get to that person, again introduce yourself and ask the magic question: "How do I go about bidding on your projects?" They will tell you and most likely they will request information.

One great technique to getting their e-mail address is to ask for it! Goes something like this...

"Do you have Internet access? Give me your e-mail address and I will shoot a couple of pictures over to you." The key is to be prepared to send the photos over immediately. (Ideally while you still have the guy on the phone.)

At any rate and not wanting to dumb this down anymore than needed, the key to getting sales is establishing rapport. Once you establish rapport, the rest is easy.

From contributor P:
I agree with contributor J. You can cover a lot more ground with the phone than in person. The problem is talking to the decision maker. This is usually the project manager, and he is usually out on the jobs. You can easily talk to the estimator, but you are not going to make progress until you talk to the project manager.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor S:
In my experience, people will often read unsolicited emails (provided they don't look like spam) but are unlikely to respond back. A better idea is to send an introductory email a day prior to calling.