Email overload is epidemic in the workplace. Most sales people we poll tell me that they spend up to 40% of their day just managing email correspondence between clients and internal partners. Considering that the latest study from Cohesive Knowledge Solutions (CKS) finds that over one third of all email is time wasting – and not profitable – activity we have to ask ourselves: Is email an effective sales tool?
The CKS study goes on to report that over $300 million per year is lost in productivity and profits through our over use of email., and I know that in almost every case, emails serves to length sales cycles, not shorten them, exacerbate service problems, not solve them and erodes relationships not strengthens them.
It’s time to re-align our mindset. Email does not close business for you. You close sales based on your personal relationships. Get out from behind your computer and see customers in person, or pick up the phone to call them. Here are some guidelines for when a conversation is a must:
1. Price Negotiation Never attempt to negotiate via email. You will be more effective, and come to a resolution with your client more quickly if you negotiate in person or on the telephone. To brush up on your negotiation skills check out our article Five Steps To Negotiating Like An Expert
2. Price Proposals. Your prospect should never see your prices for the first time in a proposal sent by email. When you send the price via email, you lose control of the sale. For example, if the prospect doesn’t like the price you send, they can – and will – chose not to call or email you back. If you present the price over the phone, you maintain control because you have a chance to respond to your prospects pleasure, or displeasure with the price you present.
3. Customer service issues. If a client emails you with a problem, immediately pick up the phone to try and resolve it. Customer service problems are resolved much more quickly on the phone. On a related note, increasing your face to face client visits will decrease your customer service “blow ups”. Sure, there will still be issues to resolve but when you have a very strong relationship with your client, these issues will be resolved quickly and without escalation. The best relationships are formed face to face.
4. Prospecting calls. The American Direct Marketing Association reports that cold emails receive a slightly smaller response rate than cold calls. In my opinion, any edge you can get is a good edge so, pick up the phone instead of sending an email. Of course, the highest response rates always come from referred leads. So don’t forget to ask for referrals everyday.
$300 million is a lot of wasted productivity! In order to increase productivity you must learn to manage your email. Here are 5 ideas:
1. Send less email. You will receive less. Yes it is that simple. Make calls and visit clients face to face.
2. Write shorter messages that are very specific and have a clear call to action. Make sure your email does not require scrolling.
3. Answer email only at specific times of the day. Turn off your email system between prime selling time – 9-11 and 1-3 and only respond to messages during off prime. You will find many issues will resolve themselves during the day leaving you with less the handle directly. Don’t worry about missing sales, in my 16 years of selling I have never seen a company lose a sale because the sales rep waited 2 hours to return a call or an email.
4. Read your newest messages first. This is especially helpful on email threads. If you read the newest ones first, you will see whether messages have be responded to by others, reducing the number of messages that you must handle yourself.
5. Create strong, descriptive subject lines. Weak subject lines confuse people and make emails more difficult to locate. Use one word categories such as “request” or “confirmation” – along with relevant information such as times, dates and locations. You’ll add context and clarity to every email exchange. Sometimes I even put the whole message in the subject line. This saves time and forces you to keep messages short.
Finally, remember to stop, think and then send. Sure we all want information that can help us do our jobs. Just make sure that what you are sending is timely, topical and targeted. Last thing you want to be accused of is pushing out a lot of your own “email junk”
Dedicated to increasing your sales,