In 2007, I ran sales for a manufacturer and was supporting our major accounts manager. For much of that year, I was in pursuit of securing a meeting with an executive decision-maker for a global systems integrator. I emailed, called, sent letters, and even stalked the parties that “Mr. Big” might be attending at ISC West.
Sometimes he would return my call or email, but he was never committal and was sporadic in his replies.
One day, out of nowhere, he sent me a text message in response to a voicemail I left him. It simply stated: “I can meet on Tuesday 0900.”
From that point forward, I had open and regular communication with Mr. Big; in fact, we went on to partner with them on multiple government contracts. Why? Because we became text message buddies – and this was back in 2007, when text messaging really wasn’t yet a thing!
When to Text
Texting is the easiest form of communicating, and in fact is the most preferred by many customers. Unfortunately, many salespeople still consider it to be unprofessional; however, by understanding when and how to use them, salespeople can leverage text messaging to their advantage and remain professional.
Here are four times when it is appropriate to text:
1. After they text you. If your customer or prospect texts you, then it is game on! With this action, they have told you that they prefer texting and that you are welcome to text them.
2. After you gain permission. How do you gain permission? Just ask “Is it ok to text?” You can also send them a text, and if they reply, you have effectively gotten permission.
3. If the situation calls for texting. When, for example, you are running late, cannot find them at an event, or lost your connection to a Zoom or Teams call, then it is most appropriate to send a text message. Email is not urgent enough, and calling may be too much of an interruption.
4. They are accustomed to texting. A good rule of thumb: If your customer was born after 1985, then it is probably fine to start a texting relationship any time.
How to Text
Texting is a unique form of communication that can be used for specific purposes. If you are not sure whether the recipient has your number programmed in their phone, include your name at the end of the text so they know who you are. Here are four ways to use text messaging; however, also consider these methods as ways to gain permission to text:
1. Texting as a method to set up further communications or as a follow-up: For example, after dropping by a customer site: “I just left a white paper for you up front with Jason.” Another example is to text just before sending a package: “I just mailed the samples you requested. It should arrive to your office on Tuesday. Let me know if you don’t receive it.”
2. Links to helpful articles, blogs, or videos: When doing this, don’t make a huge deal out of it. Just send something like: “I thought you’d like this article…”
3. Send photos of jobs: Emailing might be the best method, but texting a few key photos could spark the back-and-forth dialogue that can take a relationship a level deeper.
4. Do not use text for a cold introduction: Although texting has become an accepted form of business communication, we have not yet reached the point where you can use it for cold introductions.
Depending on your age, these ideas might stretch your comfort zone or could serve as guidelines or best practices. Either way, use texting for business and work your way through the process until you find the best methods for you.
Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (www.vectorfirm.com), a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/12361573.