100% of my emails get a response. I'll tell you why.
By Georgette Pascale
Email is a love-hate relationship, we all know it. If treated right, it gives back the love and is a great professional tool. If not handled well, it becomes an annoyance to both sender and recipient.
In the world of business, when utilized effectively, email is an ideal way to communicate with clients and coworkers. It can be an excellent tool to cultivate new business, cement relationships with current clients and streamline communication with your team. Common missteps, however, can quickly derail its effectiveness.
According to a 2015 survey, the average American worker spends about 6 hours a day using email. People are busy and emails get lost in the shuffle or, worse are opened and then forgotten. The challenge is “how do I get their attention?” As CEO of a virtual company, I have developed a few best practices that help me spend less time emailing and more time focusing on the things that matter most like serving clients, new business development, or, getting around to that lunch I forgot to eat. And, most importantly, lead to 100% of my emails getting a response.
START A CONVERSATION
Each and every new business email you draft should start a conversation. Whether emailing a current or prospective client, be proactive and clearly state the reason for your contact. Engage with a purpose and propose next steps and future communications - be specific and direct. People respond to direct communication. Vague and nebulous? Not so much.
Email is succinct by definition, so it’s OK to get right to the point. In 2015, Microsoft released a study that showed the average person has an attention span of 8 seconds. Knowing that people pay less attention than a goldfish, we all have to communicate our ideas very briefly – before our email recipients stop reading and start scanning. When driving for new business this is essential. Show a prospective client that you are laser-focused on what they need and how you can give it to them.
SAVE THE DRAMA
We’ve all gotten them: passive-aggressive or downright rude emails, bathed in sarcasm and condescension. Before you reply, take a deep breath. Instead of escalating the exchange with a negative reply, wait until you have calmed down and cooled off, and then write a response that takes the high road. When cultivating a new client, this approach is fail-proof. Turn a potentially negative exchange into something positive by offering constructive and concrete solutions to criticisms or concerns. Also, by being truthful and transparent you reveal yourself, warts and all, making people feel relaxed and open to conversation.
AND FINALLY, FIND YOUR ZEN
Finding Zen in your inbox sounds unlikely, but it’s as simple as removing clutter and getting organized. Set aside time once a month to unsubscribe from the newsletters you don’t read and the memos that you intend to read but never get around to. During your monthly inbox audit, delete any lingering emails that no longer require your attention – one-word replies, spam and anything else taking up space. Flag important emails or save them to a folder. Uncluttering your email can be profoundly liberating, freeing up mental energy to focus on what’s most important -- crafting those killer new biz emails that get opened every time.