I don't like emails!
Thought I'd get that out on the front end so there's no mystery as to where I am heading. Now you're wondering what in the world has happened. What did he do wrong? What caused such a negative reaction to something as simple, routine and harmless as email?
Well, actually it's not one thing; it's a series of things I have observed in watching businesses-and particularly salespeople- use emails over the last 5-10 years to such an extreme that now we are seeing an entire generation emerge who don't even remember doing business without email. They are using it as if it's an entire "business strategy!"
Email can be a useful tool. It has a purpose. It can be helpful if used in the right way. However, for many executives and salespeople it has become so much of a business strategy, they operate with a model that everything and anything in business can be conducted with a string of emails.
I'll offer a strong opinion here: email has become the sales tool of choice for dysfunctional salespeople to work with dysfunctional buyers. Email can be like fire; it can be useful, but used in the wrong way, it can be destructive.
Research shows that in corporate America today, if you receive an email from your boss, a customer, a prospect or a superior, the generally accepted response time is a maximum 40 minutes, preferably 20. Where did we create a system that requires response without thought, which is often exactly how we use email? We are now emailing responses without a thought, a face, a voice, tonality, or any real information.
I'm not on a one-man campaign to do away with emails, but far too many salespeople are managing their business through them. Let me give you eight basic principles to evaluate and determine if you've become a victim of "email addiction."
- Emails have no tonality in them. Generally the mind of the recipient will automatically default to a negative tonality when reading an email in a business context. You're email addicted if you use emails without factoring in the impact of tonality on the recipient.
- Emails are used to communicate data and facts, not opinions, suggestions, emotions, feelings or influences. This makes them totally impractical to use as a real sales mechanism. You're email addicted if you frequently email long, emotionally sensitive communications.
- If someone cannot understand you in two email exchanges, one of two problems exists:
- Your information is too difficult and too long to understand through an email.
- It cannot be resolved through email and will actually require something unique-human contact. Check and see how many of your recent emails with important topics have more than two responses. Install the rule that says the following: if it's important and I can't get the solution, the answer or direction I want in two short responses, I will pick up the phone and call or visit in person. Email addicts frequently string five or more communications in one subject discussion. You're email addicted if you find yourself trying to sell or solve a problem, and you are now into the 5th, 6th or 10th email.
- On average, business books have between 40,000-50,000 words in them. Doctoral dissertations can be 25,000-30,000 words. Other various forms of research and teaching can range anywhere from 5,000-15,000 words. An email should be limited to 50 words or less or it's not an effective use of emails. By now you know if you're an email addict!
- If you're a salesperson and you're emailing proposals with prices, and the prospect has never heard the price offered in the proposal at least three times from you in person or over the telephone, you are committing sales malpractice, and you're an email addict.
- If you are not managing your inbox with the use of one of the many great software programs that are available, it is likely that emails are taking too much of your valuable pay time, and you are showing clear signs to your boss and others of falling victim to email addiction. The best tool out there is XOBNI. Check it out-it's free and will give you tremendous management of your email system.
- If you are unable to respond to every email you get or at least discard it in the same day you get it, it is likely that you're managing your business too much by email.
- If you are a salesperson or a professional and you arein a meeting and cannot resist looking at your Blackberry, Palm Pilot or iPhone for one hour to read your emails, you're addicted-and it has now become your business strategy. Get help!
Now it's confession time. I am currently in violation of at least four of the above principles, but I am in treatment for my addiction.
Try fasting from emails; put yourself on an email diet of 1-2 hours per day. I suspect you'll find you are much more effective and creative than you thought with those extra hours you get back during the day. You'll also notice quickly how many other email addicts there are out there.