Finding Prospects – Mailing, Emailing or Calling – Which Works BEST? by Pat Ryan

Posted on Jun 24, 2013 in Archive, Meeting/Event Planning, Training and HR

There are many theories about what is the best way to find prospects. Certainly large advertising campaigns and trade shows take up a lot of the marketing budget. But when you need to reach specifically-targeted individuals on a large-scale basis, it really boils down to three options: Mailing them, emailing them, or calling them directly.

The context of our discussion will be from the frame of reference of a company that targets the corporate training or talent management decision maker. Mentor Tech Group (MTG) works exclusively with clients that market to the corporate training & human resources world—so we have gained an appreciation for the struggle that Sales & Marketing teams go through in trying to reach this audience.

We understand the challenges you face.  Let’s explore each prospecting method in more depth…


Once widely used to proactively engage prospects, direct mail has become a “thing of the past” for many corporate marketing departments. Sending hardcopy material to those that best fit the description of the decision maker in their respective business has fallen off considerably in recent years, due to the increased reliance on email marketing and the high costs associated with most direct mail campaigns.

However, as a result of this decrease in the use of direct mail, we have found that what’s old is new again. That is to say, companies using a creative approach to direct mail may achieve some marketing success by employing this age-old marketing approach. The factors that contribute to a successful direct mail marketing campaign is three-fold:

  1. The quality of the list to which you’re mailing,
  2. The personalized nature of the piece (hand-addressed, etc.) and
  3. The need for a value-based offer in the piece, leading prospects to gain some value or education by responding to the letter.

Direct mail marketing is also the path of least resistance to reach decision makers in your industry.

Here’s why:

  • It’s easy to do (but not necessarily cheap!)
  • It does not involve REJECTION
  • You can reach hundreds of prospects in a very short time frame

Most lists used to reach corporate training or talent management decision makers are of questionable quality. Using typical industry lists, we estimate that up to 50% (sometimes more!) of direct mail pieces never reach their intended recipients. At $2-$3 per piece, plus mailing costs, plus list rental fees, you should be certain that your list contains up-to-date information regarding the decision makers’ names, addresses and phone numbers, or you are just throwing money away.

Conclusion: Direct mail can be an effective means of generating new leads, but make sure you use a high quality list if employing this marketing tactic.


Today, most companies employ email marketing campaigns as part of their regular plan to attract new prospects. Over the past 5-10 years, email marketing has delivered an improved response rate over direct mail for two primary reasons:

  • Less effort is required to respond to an email versus direct mail
  • The prospect can easily click to your web site to evaluate your value proposition and how it may benefit them.

Beyond the cost of creating the email marketing piece, the cost to send it is minimal. This can be done in-house—or by an outside company that can deliver value-added email marketing services.

Regardless of how it’s done, to get the best results, you should:

  • Capture the email address, phone number, title, and company information of those who respond to your email and provide a link to your website.
  • Use that lead information as a follow up tool—now your sales team can follow up with those that not only requested more information, but also with those that clicked through to your site! With most email marketing programs, you can view which contacts viewed which pages on your website and for how long. Now that’s useful information on which your sales team can act!

That leaves the cost of securing WHOM to email. As mentioned in the previous section, securing good lists has historically been a challenge in the market you target. Responding to this challenge, MTG has created a precisely targeted list for companies marketing to corporate training and talent management/HR executives—one by one—by conducting telephone interviews. We now have the email addresses for over 30,000 executives – focused on training, talent management or human resources.

Lastly, emailing can enable you to create a “Permission Marketing” program, as opposed to using “Interruption Marketing”—like hardcopy mailers. To learn more, we highly recommend reading: “Permission Marketing” written by Seth Godin, former Vice-President of Direct Marketing for Yahoo!

Conclusion: Emailing using a properly conceived permission marketing program will enable your team to reap ever-increasing response rates from your marketing efforts.


This is the most proactive method of discovering WHO your prospects are: Call them and ask them!  It also has the following paradoxical challenges:

  • Those most well equipped to perform cold calling are usually least likely to have time to do it or even want to do it—so it is either not done at all—or done intermittently (thus, poorly).
  • Those most likely to be chartered to do cold calling are usually second tier callers—and are usually not as good at it.
  • Plus, doing this involves REJECTION—and it is human nature to avoid rejection.

But, since the payoff is high, one would think that a higher priority would be placed on cold calling. Being so potentially effective, why is cold calling usually the last method of proactive prospecting performed?

The reason is that cold calling is often the path of most resistance—because it has the most challenges. But it also has the potential to deliver an excellent return on investment (ROI).  Most companies considering it are perpetually in one stage or another of trying to figure out how to do it right—doing it in-house or outsourcing it.  Both methods have challenges…

To Outsource, or Not to Outsource Your Cold Calling?

1.  Doing it in-house.

    • Lack of focus—inside sales/telemarketers end up getting “pulled” into doing other, unrelated tasks, making them far less productive
    • Turnover problems—it’s a hard job
    • Competency problems—it’s not easy to find someone good at doing it that wants to do it!
    • Headcount—do you have the “bodies” to do it?
    • Your team works with a poor list! (Get a precisely targeted list!)

2.  Outsourcing it.

    • Does the company have a thorough knowledge of your industry?
    • Do they “speak the language” of corporate training/HR decision makers?
    • Do they have an understanding of “solution sales?”
    • Do they understand the level of detail necessary to obtain about prospects?
    • Regardless of how it’s done, the ROI achieved is directly correlated with the abilities of those making the calls.

To achieve excellent results in your company, it should be required that cold callers: 

  • Be experienced in your industry enough to engage a C-level executive about the benefits of your solution or service
  • Be 100% focused on making calls and finding prospects—otherwise performance will suffer
  • Have the ability to “schmooze” with people—a lively and friendly personality, one who can think quickly on their feet
  • Be able to handle the rejection and the mundane nature of the job

Conclusion:  Cold calling can be a very effective way to get prospects interested – but you HAVE to have the right people doing it!  Many companies are wasting their money because the wrong people are making the calls.  If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right.


What’s the bottom line?  A combination of emailing and cold calling will yield the best results and the best ROI.

  • Specifically, select an email program designed to capture “click-through” information and create interest by offering some enticing information or value-added content to get your prospects to respond.
  • Create and leverage curriculum-based or thought-leadership content. Then, your cold-callers can become “warm-callers” by calling the prospects that have responded to your email or clicked through your site.

As a result of employing these methods, your business development folks will be working with a much more manageable calling list, and the calls they make will now be “warm calls.” This is a better situation all-around and will produce much more bang for the buck than doing either solely emailing or cold calling.

  • Layered on top of this email/calling approach, you may want to employ a well-designed direct marketing campaign to hand-selected leads on your target list (assuming you have a high quality list from which to work!).
  • Combine your direct marketing piece with phone-based follow up immediately after the direct mail is received, and your calling team will have far greater success than would have been achieved by calling or direct mail alone.

Remember, Mentor Tech Group maintains a fully drilled-down, built-from-scratch list of corporate training and HR decision makers that can supercharge your mailing, emailing and cold calling efforts! This market intelligence is precisely targeted and highly accurate because every piece of information on our database was entered there as a result of a personal conversation with one of our Market Intelligence Consultants!

To start saving money, please contact us today.  We’re here to help you reach the decision-makers you seek – whenever you’re ready!  Call (651) 457-8600, Ext. 3

What makes MTG lists different?

  • All contact information is built from scratch by telephone interview!
  • E-learning/Training, HR & Talent Management Decision Makers at
  • America’s Top 6500 Companies!
  • UNLIMITED use for calling, mailing and emailing…for one full year.
  • Guaranteed to be Precisely Targeted and Highly Accurate!
  • Direct-dial phone numbers and email addresses
  • Decision makers identified by job function, not just job title
  • Free updates* – we update your list every 4 months, a service that is critical to your business.

* Free updates provided with minimum list purchase of 1000 contacts.

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