“We’d like to improve the way we sound in email,” said the client. “Not our salesteam, but our operations people, our admins, our internal team, even our execs. If we can persuade each other to do what we need done, and if we can’t be civil and if we can’t do it without playing email ping pong all day – what a waste of time! – , it won’t matter how persuasive our sales team is because we won’t be able to support them.”
Bless you, my child.
If you’ve come to the same conclusion, here are 5 tips that will boost productivity, professionalism and profitability:
1. Know why you’re bothering to email.
Simple: What is it that you want as a result of this email? Not as an end result of a line of emails, meetings, whatever. This email. The one that you’re writing. What approval or decision or understanding do you want?
2. Determine what is in it for the reader to do what you want.
Why should they do it beyond because you said so? How will it help them, the org, the situation? Of course you don’t want to go into detail but by honoring them with a few words (to ensure the initiative’s success, to keep us moving forward, to help me complete this, to get this off your plate, to add your insights into the pool of knowledge….), and treating them respectfully, you’re more likely to get better results.
3. Start with what you actually want – your main point. Forget all the “hope you had a great weekend” stuff (if they have time or think you care, they’ll tell you anyway) and begin with your point:
Your help is needed! Would you please review these proposals and add your comments by tomorrow at 5p?
You’re the expert and I’m sorry to rush you on this. The proposal is being presented to the client by 8a, Wednesday.
If this is impossible, please let me know. Your help will help us seal the deal!
4. End by reminding them of why you need them, their approval, their whatever. Repeat the reason you’re writing just in case they skimmed and skipped the first paragraph because they are so accustomed to getting messages that hide the point. Try to always leave then with an authentic, sweet taste rather than a demanding or transactional message.
5. Use a subject line that helps them determine urgency and importance.
Which of these subject lines would you be likely to open?
A. Action required: Proposal review
B. Action request: Client review tomorrow
C. YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!!!!!
D. A favor
F. URGENT: Your help is needed to review 2 proposals
G. For client review tomorrow: Action request
Lots of reasons that some of these won’t work but much more important is which ones will convince your reader that his/her help is needed by tomorrow because business is at stake? Both B and G convey that message. The subject lines indicate the importance (Client review) and are intriguing enough, without being demanding or rude, that your boss is likely to open the message and respect you for writing it.
Of course a phone call would also help…