A reader recently sent me this question: You give great advice for spicing up your voicemail and for giving 30-second commercials. What advice would you give sales professionals when it comes to spicing up e-mails?
E-mail has taken over communication.
E-mail is the fastest, easiest, surest way to communicate.
E-mail is always there to help you remember what you said.
E-mail is a way to communicate to thousands of people at once, with just one click.
E-mail is RIGHT NOW.
BEWARE and BE AWARE: E-mail is PERMANENT. Many people have gone to jail based on evidence from recovered e-mails.
But the coolest part of e-mail is that it’s just evolving. It’s a 15-year-old teenager. Think about how little TV, or radio or the cell phone had evolved when they were 15, and that will give you some minor clue as to what’s in store. Audio and video e-mails are already evolving. Cell phones and blackberry’s are instant retrieval and sending tools.
The rules of e-mail are evolving as well. There are manners. And there is a new lower case and abbreviation of accepted grammar. There is also SHOUTING! And spamming —
The first rule of e-mail is: Every e-mail is an impression of you. Misspelled words, poor grammar and misuse of words — like “your” and “you’re” — are an immediate indication of “not too bright.”
The reason I’m sharing this advice is: Before you get fancy or cute, you’d better master the fundamentals.
ADVICE: If your e-mail is unsolicited, you better have a darn good reason for the recipient to open it. The subject line can’t be something stupid like, “money saving idea inside.” And, it can’t replicate current spam popular subjects like pharmaceuticals, mortgages, or private parts.
ADVICE: The best way to get an unsolicited e-mail opened is to ask a question in the subject line that is specific to the recipient. For example, rather than say, “Dish Network is better than cable” you might ask, “How much was your cable bill last month, and what did you get for it?” Or a funny subject line like, “Hey baldy!” always gets my attention — I love it, and always read it. But some people may be offended — because they have no sense of humor. Or, just a simple subject identifying yourself like, “A personal message from Jeffrey Gitomer.” Or even more simple, “from Jeffrey Gitomer.”
There’s also a combination of simple and personal, “Hey Bill, it’s Jeffrey Gitomer.”
ADVICE: If the e-mail is part of an ongoing dialogue, you will have little or no trouble getting it opened. You may, however, have trouble getting it returned. Too often, people expect a response when none is needed. If you want to be certain that your e-mail is responded to, then you have to ask a specific question within the message body, near the end of the e-mail, relating to something your customer considers important. When or where they need delivery, what time someone will be there to pick it up — something that gets the customer involved.
ADVICE: If you’re trying to set up a meeting or an appointment, you’ll get a response about 50% of the time, UNLESS the customer deems that you are important enough to talk to or meet with. Your urgency does not dictate their call to action.
ADVICE: Don’t send jokes. Don’t send cartoons. Don’t send “pass this on to five people you know.” If you want to send something, send them a link to a book you read and thought was great. Or send a link to a relevant article that you found from a search engine that can impact their business or their life.
REALITY: Half the time your e-mail doesn’t get returned because your e-mail, a previous action or a previous e-mail has tainted the customer’s view of you, and they don’t deem you important enough to respond to in a timely manner, or even respond to at all.
2.5 more things (advice) about e-mail:
2.5 To the point.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR: Interestingly, the salesperson (not you, of course) will blame the customer for not returning an e-mail, as opposed to blaming themselves for the pathetic content of it. Look at it from the positive perspective. It’s not your fault, it’s your opportunity to get better.
GitBit: There’s one more important element about e-mail that I would like to share with you, but I’m out of room. Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word E-MAIL in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail