?? Dear Scott: Is fax still an option for appointment setting and lead generation?

? Dear Scott:

I read your “Setting Sales Appointments” book about once every year and had a quick question. A few years ago I disconnected my office fax machine and started using one of the virtual services (eFax). At around the same time I stopped sending faxes when prospecting for new business. I noticed in chapter 5 of your book, you’ve written about getting fax numbers when you identify the decision maker. Do you still recommend acquiring fax numbers and faxing during a call process?

Just the fax

Answer: This is a question I get a lot. As a practical matter faxing has been replaced by email as a touch. Very very few people who prospect now incorporate fax into their prospecting system. With that said there are some that still incorporate it into their system, those that do, and do it right, are quite happy with the results.

Right off let me say that we are talking about using fax under very limited circumstances in sales prospecting, we are not talking about bulk faxing. No way. Not recommending that in any way, shape or form. We are talking about using fax as a touch when you are in the middle of an active call process to a specific individual which supplements the voicemails and emails you leave as touches.

Some get their shorts all twisted when they see mention of faxing but keep in mind that the setting sales appointments book was written in 2004. It’s the same concept as leaving a voicemail or sending an email.

As only a few dinosaurs fax anymore a fax really stands out, it gives an extra oomph to the whole process. They key today I think is to have the proper setup in your crm so that sending a preformatted fax is a simple click of a button. The old method of printing out a fax and actually entering the fax number into a machine is not going to be practical. If you have the proper setup, have a good fax designed (a good fax is not a letter, just faxed) it adds an extra element to the touch process, reinforcing your message and giving your suspect multiple opportunities to “raise their hand” to you. If you are properly setup, you get to “touch” your high level suspect again with no extra time investment and virtually no cost.

If you are thinking about incorporating fax into your call process here are a few tips.

Let me first walk you back to the old days when fax was king. Why did it ever work? Well, enter the time machine and picture this. You call call call. Time to leave a voicemail. As you leave your voicemail you press a button and your printer spews a template fax with customer info inserted pulled from the contact manager. (BTW, I started with a program called Telemagic, then used Goldmine for years, now am a big ACT fan.) At the same time the voicemail is being left you click a button and an email goes out. you get off the phone and during dead time, waiting on hold etc, you send those faxes you printed out using a fax machine within reach. So when you leave a voicemail your suspect gets not one “touch” but three. All at the same time and all with a consistent message with a response method.

It can get even better. In the old days I formatted my faxes so that they could be mailed using window envelopes. So if I felt that a suspect was worth a stamp, after leaving the voicemail, pressing the button to send the email, pressing the button to print the fax, sending the fax during wait time, I would scribble a personal note on the fax, something like “Sorry to miss you. Let me know if we might help, Scott,) fold it, slip it into the window envelope (no addressing or labels) and mail it. Four touches rather than three. Think people notice you now?

Remember, your goal is to generate high value leads, you don’t necessarily have to talk to someone to do it. Now someone can respond to your voicemail, reply to your email and oh ya, in your fax you give them options to fax, call, mail or go to a special page on your website designed to get them to leave their contact info. Boom. Three touches rather than one with the same effort.

I have always felt that there is another advantage to a fax. It can tell your story and engage suspects like a voicemail or email cannot. At a glance people see your headline, subhead and title of your offer. If you write good marketing copy and they have a need, that glance engages them in your missive. Particularly today, where people have easy access to information and can easily select the vendors they wish to speak to, fax gives you an opportunity to relate benefits, differences and competitive advantages that voicemail  and email cannot. Why? Because your vm and Email are deleted before you can relate the good stuff.

If fax has a shot to work in your appointment setting process it has to be formatted correctly. Your typical intro letter with long blocks of type is not going to cut it. Don’t even bother. A properly formatted and designed fax has a bold headline, a good subhead, bullet points, a graphic of an offering with a good title within the right column (maybe a report or white paper, top tips kind of thing,) a response device, options to email, fax, mail or fill in a web form to reply, and a means to get two bits of qualifying info. They are works of fine art, to be admired when you see them.

So in summary….

Am I suggesting bulk faxing? No way.
Am I suggesting it should be considered by most? No.
Newbies should not even think of incorporating fax into their prospecting process.
It should not even be considered unless you are properly setup with a crm that enables you to send a pre-formatted fax with custom info with a click of a button.
If you are properly setup and have a decent appointment setting process going, my advice is to not reject it as an option outright because it is old technology. Test it.

In limited circumstances, it can boost results 10-15% with virtually no extra time or money investment and I can tell many stories of people even today who tested it and were able to get through to more high value people.

Hope these thoughts help,

Readers. If you have a question you would like me to answer leave it here.