Email is Medium not a Means
Any discussion of written communication in the sales process must focus on email. It is important to remember that Email is not a means of communication. Rather it is a medium… a means of delivery.
If you find this distinction confusing, consider that email as a medium can contain several means of communication including audio, video, images, in addition to the written word.
Of course Email most always contains written communication…a subject line at a minimum.
As such, most of the same rules apply but there are few meaningful distinctions to keep in mind.
Remember: Email Behaves Differently!
Email has morphed from a communication medium to a ‘stream’ medium. If that statement is not intuitively obvious, let me explain.
Email used to be a direct form of communication. I send you an email and then you respond…every time. These days, we delete (or just ignore) emails from people we know – not surprising given the overwhelming volume we deal with every day.
Email has become more like Twitter or Facebook. Messages appear in our stream briefly and then, as new messages come in, disappear ‘below the line’ – into the black hole of “get to that later.”
Think about it this way: IF a message makes it past your SPAM filter, it falls into one of three categories.
- Delete immediately
- Deal with later
- Deal with now
All of us receive far too many emails and all of us have messages from friends and relatives stuck at the bottom of our inbox.
As a salesperson vying for inbox attention, your challenge is to ensure your message is dealt with NOW because “deal with later” and “delete” end up being close to the same thing.
Email Best Practices
Now that you see how Email communication challenges even great writers, I wanted to share some of the most important tips and hacks I’ve learned over the years.
Your Subject Line – Nothing you write in an email matters if it doesn’t get opened and nothing impacts open rate more than your subject line. As such, your subject line represents the most important 3-5 words you will write. I strongly recommend you do some online searching for email subject best practices (there is a ton of great stuff out there.) My best advice is use a call to action aligned with the purpose of the email.
“Catching up to continue our conversation” = BAD
“Suggested times for our next meeting” = GOOD
“Great meeting today, here are my notes” = BAD
“Meeting Recap – Your feedback requested” = GOOD
Avoid SPAM Filters – Emails that get caught in SPAM filters don’t get read. Therefore knowing if your email will get caught in a SPAM filter is pretty important. How does one perform this sorcery? Easy! Test for deliverability by 1) always sending to a non-work account with strong SPAM filter settings AND 2) use a free online test service like http://isnotspam.com
Signature, Links, and Images – I know your marketing team wants you to have all sorts of crap at the bottom with your signature but these pieces of flair kill deliverability. Delete them and use only name, email, and phone.
Attachments: In general, attachments are bad unless the recipient is a) expecting one and b) you are on the recipients ‘white-list.’ When providing large documentation it is far better to provide a link to the document on a webpage or cloud storage service.
It’s Mobile World – 2/3 of emails are opened and read on a mobile device. This alone should convince you that brevity and clarity beats eloquence every time. Further confounding delivery, the vast majority of emails are viewed on
Tracking – If you want to get fancy (and you should) send your emails from your CRM instead of Outlook. Most CRMs allow you to see if messages were opened and shared. Better yet, use one of the cheap but powerful add-on like Tout App. www.toutapp.com – Last year, I wrote a review about this sales killer app.
You can also download my Sales Email Template Pack Here