Direct Mail Prospecting: 10 Reasons to Get Physical in Sales

What was the last sales message you received? I’m guessing it was just a few minutes ago.

So what was it? An email, phone call, LinkedIn message, or maybe even a text message? Chances are it was one of the millions sent through digital channels on a daily basis.

Now, how did you react to it? Did you open/answer at all? Or did you send it straight to your trash bin?

Unless it outlined a solution to a problem you’re actively trying to solve, you probably hung up, deleted it, or trashed it into cyber-oblivion within just a few seconds.

And you’re not alone. I hate to break it to you, but prospects in your target accounts have the same reaction to your sales messages.

In this article, we’ll explore how this reaction impacts your bottom-line results, and then I’ll dive into an alternative that you may not have considered — direct mail prospecting and gifting.

Let’s dive in.

Digital Doesn’t Always Open Doors

As an SDR, account executive, target account manager, or VP of sales, it’s discouraging to see low response rates and conversions. It’s especially frustrating when you’re following best practices to a tee. Let’s face it, you can test and personalize all you want, but it doesn’t always make a difference.

But here’s the thing…

If the SDRs are killing the prospecting game and there’s no shortage of leads from the marketing department, your sales team isn’t the problem.

So what exactly is the missing piece to the puzzle?

The answer may lay with the channels you’re using to reach out to target accounts and contacts.

Outreach is typically done with emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages. But let’s be honest. It’s nearly impossible to establish a buying committee within a target account with just emails, phone calls, and LinkedIn messages.

It takes an average of 6.8 stakeholders to be on board with a modern B2B purchase decision. How are sales reps supposed to create these relationships without original and authentic means of communication?

Phone calls only get you so far in building a buying committee. To ensure your messaging reflects sincerity and trustworthiness, it makes sense to take an offline approach — which is where direct mail and gifting can be leveraged with huge success.

Some accounts are simply too high value to target through digital channels. For them, it’s worth getting physical — stop relying solely on digital channels and integrate direct mail and gifting into your sequences.

10 Reasons to Try Direct Mail Prospecting and Gifting

1. Longer lifespan than email

The fact is a piece of mail has a longer lifespan than an email. One analysis from the UK reported the average lifespan of an email is 2 seconds while a piece of mail lasts an average of 17 days.

Mail exists in the physical world, making it harder to dispose of (please recycle) while emails exist digitally and are usually trashed instantly or ignored indefinitely.

What does this mean for your sales team?

A piece of mail can easily be passed around on a peer-to-peer basis within a target account. Emails on the other hand are hardly ever going to be forwarded internally unless they convey serious value.

2. Cost effective with new technology

Twenty years ago, sending mail for sales and marketing purposes was scarce due to the lack of technology. Today, offline engagement platforms that focus on an integrated approach to mail and gifting make sending mail much easier and more cost effective.

The term “direct mail automation” has emerged in recent years as a result of the new technologies that enable sales teams to leverage this.

Global advertising agency, McCann Worldwide, has collected research that shows $1 spent on direct mail can yield $12 in returns. While email is certainly cheaper than mail, the ROI margin that direct mail can deliver will only increase as technology advances.

3. Creates human connections

There’s a reason some parents make their kid send a handwritten thank-you note after receiving a birthday or holiday present. It conveys appreciation that no email, text message, or even phone call could deliver.

In a similar sense, sales teams can leverage this concept in direct mail to create human connections with their target accounts. It’s even possible to automate these notes, using AI-style handwriting that looks and feels authentic.

As 41% of Americans look forward to checking their mailbox everyday, mail and gifts will always have more of a human element to them than what any digital channel could offer.

4. Engages with multiple senses

While it may seem obvious, by stimulating the five senses, you can have more influence over a purchase decision.

Digital channels rely solely on sight and sound to connect with consumers, while mail and gifts can appeal to all five of our senses. In our blog post, 10 Facts about Sensory Marketing, we discuss various instances of multi-sensory engagement and concepts for how to incorporate them in workflows.

5. Huge differentiator

According to Sales Hacker, only 38.5% of B2B companies report using direct mail. Why so low? 44% of the time, it’s due to cost. 23% of the time, it’s due to time.

Fortunately, new offline platforms answer both of these pains between reasonable pricing and streamlined usability at scale. Clearly, there’s a huge opportunity to stand out from the digital clutter of competitors with direct mail and gifting.

6. Effectively syncs with existing workflows

One development new technology offers is the ability to incorporate mail and gifts into existing sequences and workflows. In the past, sending a one-off handwritten postcard to a contact to catch their attention would have taken time and planning. Now, this can be automated entirely with AI style handwriting and seamless CRM integration.

Whether it be Hubspot, Salesforce, or Outreach, your sales team’s tool of choice can deploy campaigns and sequences that integrate with physical mail and gifts.

An example of this would be a Day 3 postcard follow-up asking if your contact saw the email you sent on Day 1. Direct mail can now effortlessly be added to the arsenal of any sales team. The options here are limitless and only bound by creativity.

7. Has potential to reach others

One advantage email has over direct mail is the ability to track open rates. While it’s pretty much impossible to track this with direct mail, how many times have you ever thrown away a letter without opening it?

Everyone sorts their mail, so the so-called “view rate” of mail is probably close to 100%. The ANA reports that up to 90% of direct mail gets opened while only 20-30% of emails. Furthermore, mail will always have a greater chance than an email to unintentionally reach others.

When a message is compelling and addresses a pain, the receiver will naturally pass it along to fellow colleagues and executives who would take interest. Which brings me to an important tip: When designing mail and gifts, think about what elements would incentivize the receiver to share it with others.

8. More incentivizing to act on

A good call to action (CTA) will have some sort of motivation factor that’s just too great to pass up. Canada Post Corporation conducted a neuroscience study on direct mail and found it’s far more persuasive than digital media — with a 20% higher motivation response, and even more so if the mail appeals to senses beyond touch.

As a result, CTAs on digital platforms such as email, social media, and webpages are disadvantaged from the get-go. Direct mail sent at any stage in the sales funnel has a neurological advantage over digital channels to motivate responses.

9. Message is easier to process

Generally speaking, you have to read an entire email to get the gist of the message. Now think about a postcard or mail advertisement. If designed properly, they visually communicate the message in a quick scan.

The same study conducted by Canada Post found that direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than email. Many sales teams are commonly tasked to find the pain within a target account and express how their product or service can address it. If mail is easier to interpret, why waste your contact’s time by sending an email or calling them?

Ultimately, the purchase decision belongs to the buyer, and it’s more likely to be “yes” if making that decision was easy. Mail gives you the ability to visually explain how your product can solve a problem rather than writing a novel about it — making the positive decision as simple as possible.

10. Can be more emotionally stimulating than digital channels

Many digital advertisements will try to trigger a viewer’s emotions to drive them to make a decision (think tear-jerker animal shelter commercials). But appealing to emotions doesn’t always mean making someone feel happy or sad. The key is to create a human connection.

It can be as simple as empathizing to better understand a situation and showing you want to help. Sending a personalized gift provides unparalleled engagement and shows the recipient you care.

To do it right, look for touchpoints that show your humanity and could build an emotional connection. A few ideas: flowers or a bottle of wine to celebrate a professional win, a plant to empathize with a loss, a teddy bear to celebrate the birth of a child.

These types of gifts communicate human-to-human while establishing a level of credibility and trust that digital channels could never deliver.

Still Not Convinced?

That’s perfectly fine. Adoption and implementation of new sales tactics can be stressful and unproductive. A great product will still sell if it answers a common pain.

That doesn’t change the fact: Direct mail prospecting and gifting work.

Sales teams that operate in digital channels will continue to hit roadblocks. You aren’t just coming against overly full inboxes. You’re also facing newer, tighter regulations that restrict communication.

The activities that lead up to that closing video conference, phone call, or face-to-face meeting matter now more than ever. To put the odds in your favor and stand out from digital clutter,you need to look beyond purely digital channels to engage with your target accounts.

Consider adding offline approaches to your existing workflows to create more authentic connections. It’s time to get physical in sales, and truly stand out.


  • Direct mail is now more integratable and scalable than ever
  • Science proves that personalized and sensory engagement is more neurologically stimulating
  • New technology enables cost a effective delivery of direct mail

Are you doing direct mail prospecting or gifting to engage your target accounts? What’s working for you?

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