As a sales professional you are required to communicate with buyers in many different ways. There is the face to face meeting, the group presentation, the contact at trade shows and other business functions, telephonic contact and written contact which is usually by way of electronic mail.
E-mail contact may be used for many different reasons. To introduce yourself and your company, to send product updates, to provide information, to request information, to set up meetings, to send quotes / proposals, to follow-up on quotes / proposals and many other reasons depending on your specific circumstances.
When communicating by way of electronic mail, irrespective of which of the above reasons you are communicating with a buyer, your messages are in fact professional correspondence.
Professional correspondence does not include smiley faces or similar emoticons. This applies to both new and existing buyers. I know there are going to be some of you reading this article who will want to defend your use of emojis based on the relationship you have with the buyer.
My take on this is that the buyer, no matter how strong your relationship with them is, should know that there are two sides to you. The nice-guy friendly side where we talk about the weather, the weekend, the kids at school, etc. And then the sales side. “I’m also here to do business”.
You can move from the nice-guy friendly side to the sales side with something like: “What I’d like to discuss with you today is …” Now it’s time for business.
Your e-mail communication should also reflect the two sides to you. Therefore, be brief, to the point and professional.
Tips for e-mail communication in sales:
- Keep your emails brief and to the point. Don’t intimidate recipients with too much text and or information. If your mails don’t take too much time to read, then the chances are good that they will be read and not put aside for reading latter “when the recipient has some time”. (They never have time for reading long emails)
- Focus on one subject per mail message. For another subject, start a new mail. This helps the recipients to keep clear records of your email communication with them.
- Make sure your subject line reflects the correct message. This will determine whether or not your mail will be read. (Be brief)
- Don’t ask for a read receipt. It’s annoying. If a recipient doesn’t want to respond to your mail, they won’t acknowledge the read receipt and if they do want to respond then their response is in itself a read receipt.
- Asking for a read receipt is the same as saying “I don’t trust you”.
- Stick to plain text. Don’t use bold upper case unless it’s necessary.
- Use correct grammar. Punctuation matters. Commas, full stops, colons, semicolons and hyphens all exist for a reason: they make it easier to understand the intended meaning of a sentence. Use appropriate and consistent “spacing” between the introduction, between paragraphs and between the message and the ending.
- Don’t have a full-page signature. There is nothing more irritating than a signature which includes the company’s entire history and at the same time promotes their current offerings. Make sure your name and contact details are the main focus as well as your disclaimer if necessary.
- Use your spell check but don’t rely totally on it. In some cases, the spelling of a word may not pick up an error in the message. I.E. “I would like to get more information form you”. (Form is correctly spelt but should read from)
- Avoid using slang (“Cool” “Lekker” “Sharp”) Rather “Great” “Brilliant” etc.
- Avoid using industry jargon (“Bang for your buck”) Rather “Value for money”.
- Avoid using acronyms (BTW: by the way. EDS: electronic data systems. POS: point of service).
- Not everybody knows all acronyms, and they don’t save much time anyway.
- Don’t use !!!!!! or ?????. It might create the wrong impression.
- Don’t shout. Using all upper case is like shouting in email communication.
- Resize your photos and any other attachments to appropriate proportions for email communication.
- Have a proper introduction and a proper ending. Don’t start off with “Hope or trust this mail finds you well”. This is a meaningless statement to make.
- Rather get to the point and be brief. “I am following up on …” “The reason for my mail is …”
- If you are not sure how to end an email, (Regards, best wish, yours faithfully,) there’s one ending that is always appropriate: Thanks, or Thank you.
- Always end off with “Next steps”.
- When sending a quote or any other information, end off with “I have diarised to follow-up with you on (Day) between (Time) to answer any questions you might have regarding the attached quote / information”.
- “Should you have any queries in the meantime, please contact me”. (Diarize the follow-up call)
- Follow-up call.
- NOT: “I’m just phoning to see if you received …”
- RATHER: “I’m following up on the quote / information / my mail I sent you on (date) and want to know what your thoughts are and if you have any questions”.
- Read your mails a few times before sending.
By following some of the above tips you will have a better chance of success when communicating with buyers by way of electronic mail. There is nothing more demotivating than not receiving responses to emails.
Not everyone will respond to your emails but at least you will have a better chance of success by implementing some of the above tips and ideas.
© 2020 Ray Patterson. All materials, images and contents contained herein are the intellectual property of Ray Patterson and may not be copied, reproduced, distributed, displayed, adapted or modified without Ray Patterson’s express permission. Any unauthorized copying, reproduction, distribution, display, adaptation or modification will amount to copyright infringement.