Faxing: A Sales Reps’ Secret Weapon


Do young sales reps even remember what a fax machine is? More importantly, do you know how to use one? Well guess what? As a tool, faxing can still be very relevant as a communications channel.

With all the different ways of communication available, people have become more leery of the most common communication practices. We see this now with email and phone calls (gatekeepers have learned to become formidable opponents when it comes to reaching busy decision makers). This reason alone is enough to motivate sales reps to discover what are some of the best, supplemental avenues of getting in contact with the individual they are trying to reach, and sometimes that means thinking outside of the box.

Faxing, in general, out pulls email eight to one. Crazy, isn’t it? Not really when you think about what I learned when I worked at Franklin Covey. Franklin Covey still uses fax as a tool today because it still outpulls email eight to one!

In 1994 I was working with my sales team trying to figure out how to get some value out of our ‘wasted’ dials. I asked them what happened when 86 percent of the time they couldn’t reach a decision maker and I was told that the reps often talked to the receptionist or voicemail. That’s when I had an idea. I told my reps the next time they reach a receptionist to ask for a fax number and send them something.

We scanned all the information that people would want to know, and purchased some software for our computers that would send a fax with a click of a button – our only automation at Franklin (remember, this is 1994!).

And then something happened.

We sent out 100 faxes and had a 1% response. Those faxes cost us five cents plus long distance. Our VP of Marketing couldn’t believe it! As a department, Marketing was spending $3 million per quarter on mailers that cost 70 cents each. With this monetary investment, they were only getting a 2% response (after it took seven days for them to get it in the mail).

Just the return on investment was five times more for faxing than the mailers!
I went back to the room full of sales reps and I offered them a challenge. I bet them I could book more people to come in and buy our seminars than they could, and I would do it without talking to a single decision maker! They thought I was crazy.

I dialed 460 companies in one day, and if I reached a receptionist I would ask for their fax number and made a request that it would be given to their decision maker. I gathered 298 fax numbers and got 11 sales. Out of all my reps who were just calling, my best one got seven and the average rep sold two. Here’s the funny thing, six weeks later I sent the same fax out to the same 298 fax numbers and sold eight more.

Why is it that fax still pulls so heavily? One reason is emails often have spam filters and another is people usually look at faxes and read them. Now, I’m not saying go out and fax like crazy. I’m saying test your communication options and see what works best for you and your business. Here are some of the things we noticed when it comes to communication:

Fax out pulls email eight to one
LinkedIn messages out pull email nine to one
• In mail out pulls email 33 to one

The bottom line is to know what will work best for you, and use it. Have you found some methods better than others?

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Photo credit to liewcf.

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