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7 Do’s and Don’ts of Prospecting with Text Messages

Ask three salespeople how to increase the reply rates of your emails and you’ll get six opinions. Here is a tactic that is sure to work.

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If you’ve ever Googled how to get better reply rates, you’ve probably read a lot of contradictory advice:

“Include the company name in the subject line.”

“Make your subject line vague and mysterious.”

“Focus on the benefits.”

“Forget the benefits, it’s all about pain points.”

Sound familiar?

Why Use SMS for Prospecting?

We don’t mean to be flippant. A strong cold emailing sequence can absolutely bring a ton of people into your sales pipeline.

However, if you’re like most salespeople, you don’t have a lot of time to test different ideas. You need sure-fire methods to increase your reply rate. That’s why prospecting with text messages is a good bet.

The average open rate for emails is 26% according to Hubspot—and that’s on the high end. The low end is 19%. On the other hand, 90% of texts are read within three minutes.

Businesses we’ve spoken to have seen conversion rates from 25% to over 100%.

How to Text Sales Prospects

So, in short, texting your sales prospects works. But you have to be tactful about it. Email and SMS are two very different channels. What works for one doesn’t always fly for the other. Here are the top seven do’s and don’ts.

1. Do Collect Phone Numbers with White-Hat Methods

We advise our clients never to buy a list of phone numbers. It’s both ineffective and unnecessary. There are easier ways to collect numbers from prospective clients.

For example, you could add a click-to-text button to your website.

This is just one of many methods. You could also consider adding a web form to your site. Ask people to leave their phone number to receive a quote, case study, e-book, course catalog, or some other valuable content.

If you already use a landing page or form builder like Unbounce, integrate it directly with SimpleTexting. Another popular method is to use Facebook Lead Ads to collect phone numbers and automatically follow up via text.

2. Do Tell Sales Prospects Who You Are

Always introduce yourself in your first message. At a minimum, include your first name, last name, and what company you’re with.

Take a look at this example:

Hey Alfredo! This is Lilly with General Assembly. I saw you downloaded our course catalog and would love to touch base. When is a good time today for me to give you a call back?

In addition to introducing herself, Lily also tactfully answered a very important question before it came up: how did you get my number?

By saying “I saw you downloaded our course catalog” she explains how she got her hands on the lead’s number.

If it’s the first time you’re establishing contact, it’s crucial you do this too.

You can say this in several ways:

  • Hi [prospect name], thank you for downloading our e-book. This is [sales rep name] with [company].
  • I’d like to learn more about your needs. Do you have time today to chat?
  • [Prospect name], this is [sales rep name]. We met at [event name] and you gave me your card. What’s your availability like this week?
  • Hey [prospect name], my name’s [sales rep name] with [company name]. You signed up for a trial a few days ago. How’s it going? I’d love to hear your feedback.

Don’t assume your lead will save your name or never delete your text—some people Marie Kondo their inboxes every day.

Even after your introductory messages, it’s best practice to include a text message signature.

This doesn’t have to be fancy. Just add “- first name from company name” at the end of your message. (e.g. – Alfredo from SimpleTexting)

3. Do Find the Right Time and Reason to Text

There is a time and place for text messages. You don’t want to text someone out of the blue. A text that says “hey, just checking in” can turn a cold lead even colder.

Find an appropriate reason to send a text. For example, you can reach out by text to:

  • Schedule a time for a meeting or call
  • Ask questions about your lead’s needs
  • Answer a question that came up in a previous discussion
  • Send a link to a useful blog article, e-book, etc.
  • Confirm their contact info

4. Do Sound Like a Real Human

In order to write a good sales text, it’s useful to see what a bad sales text looks like. In this tip, we’ll cover two examples.

Sometimes we’ll hear from sales reps who tell us people don’t reply to their texts. Then we’ll ask them to share what they’ve been sending and we’ll see something along the lines of:

Still interested in demoing our product? REPLY TODAY and I can offer 30% any ANNUAL plan.

Remember, you’re not texting a prospect. You’re texting a person.

Some best practices include:

  • Avoid abbreviations
  • Never use all CAPS
  • Keep things friendly and not too pushy
  • One exclamation point is enough

Here’s another example that’s not quite as bad, but still misses the mark:

Hello, Bob. Thank you for your interest in our product. We are interested in learning more about your communication needs. Please share your availability for a demo. Sincerely, Sean

In this case, Sean was too stiff. It sounds like an automated message. Keep it professional, but don’t go overboard and sound uncomfortably formal either.

110 Sales Text Message Templates

Need inspiration for your prospecting campaign? Copy and paste these texts to your leads and watch the replies flow in.

The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Your tone should be friendly, helpful, and genuine.

5. Don’t Forget Time Zones

Time zones matter less when it comes to email. People generally don’t have notifications turned on for emails.

If you accidentally email a prospect at 6 am their time because you’re in EST and they’re in CST, it’s no big deal.

With text messages, this can be really disruptive. Most phones will ding or vibrate when a text comes in.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan and Microsoft found that 77% of people leave their notifications on at night.

That’s why it’s crucial that you make a note of your prospect’s time zone within your SMS inbox.

6. Don’t Drag On

A common misconception is that texts can only be 160 characters. Actually, with MMS you can send up to 1,600 characters.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Keep things short and sweet. Be sure to include a direct call to action.

If you need to include lots of details, consider attaching a PDF. It will show up as a link:

Thanks for the call earlier. Here’s how we stack up to our competitors as I mentioned: (I emailed this to you too.) Looking forward to circling back next week once you’ve had the chance to take a look.

7. Don’t Use Your Personal Phone

Many small business owners will use their personal phone to start texting leads. This is okay to start, but you’ll quickly find it’s inconvenient.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this case study from Shower Door Experts,

Instead, use a business texting service. You can choose a new local number, toll-free number, or even text-enable your current office line. Yes, even if it’s a landline.

This will give you peace of mind because you’ll never have to worry about accidentally sending a personal text to a prospect. Plus, you’ll gain the ability to:

Here’s a quick look at how it works:

Note: If you use a toll-free number, know that carriers are imposing limits on toll-free number traffic, and that those limits will increase over time. You’ll need to verify your toll-free number to avoid disruptions. If you use a local number, make sure to have it registered.

Closing Thoughts

SMS is a secret weapon that more SDRs should take advantage of.

When done right, it’s not spammy at all.

Instead, it’s a convenient way for your leads to ask questions and get quick replies. In other words, it’s more personal and direct.

If you’re ready to fill your pipeline with the power of text messages, sign up for a 14-day free trial of SimpleTexting.

Alfredo Salkeld
Alfredo Salkeld

Alfredo is SimpleTexting's brand manager. He's passionate about using his 10+ years of marketing experience to help small businesses grow.

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