Are Your Emails Hurting Sales—Externally and Internally?

Are Your Emails Hurting Sales—Externally and Internally?

Ever experience any of these situations? In the home stretch of a sale, and frustrated with the lack of response to your phone calls or inability to get past the assistant “gatekeeper”, you send emails about next steps. You get a confusing response—or none at all. Or, you’re putting together the proposal and lining up internal resources to help close the deal. Your email issuing instructions gets response from one person, is ignored by two, and acerbically by a fourth. With such a huge amount of our business lives dictated by email, how can you improve the odds of successful communication?

How bad is the problem? While we’re not aware of any sales-specific studies, a three-year Loughborough University (U.K.) study, focusing on one company with 2,850 email users found that poor usage and communication skills are costing UK businesses millions of pounds each year in lost productivity. The research showed that the daily cost of reading email for the firm was £40,848 ($80,062) and the cost per year is more than £9.8million ($19.21m). After all employees completed email training the company determined it could save $6,019 per day and almost $1.44m per year on time spent reading email if workers were better educated about email use—an eight percent saving on the total cost of reading email.

With so much of sales success hinging on the relationship that’s developed between salesperson and prospect, and with over 90% of the adult population favoring non-written means for best understanding of new information, it’s inevitable that we put sales and work relationships at risk whenever we choose email over the phone or face-to-face.

To help solve this problem for our clients, The Collaborative has been fortunate to embark upon a joint venture with a Japan-based firm founded by American expatriates, Globus Communications. Globus has developed a training program that greatly increases e-mail communication effectiveness.

The Globus email assessment evaluates writing speed and writing effectiveness, which is defined (and weighted) as logic (40%), phrases and terms (20%), tone (20%), sentence structure (10%) and layout. Participants receive case studies and write emails based on these, whereupon they’re evaluated by Globus and returned with quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The respondent then is trained in a classroom setting or online, and by completing additional case studies continues to improve.

While email is a critical part of selling, salespeople need to continually assess how they use it in the sales process as the impact of relational breakdowns are deadly to success. Check your motivations (is it fear of verbal rejection?) and your tactics (at what stage in the cycle and for what purpose?) in using emails. Be aware that using it too much will condition your prospects to hide behind e-mail—it’s easy for them to avoid you by not responding. And finally, consider having your email writing assessed to ensure that when your selling does call for an email that it’s as effective as possible.