Email like the phone has become part of our working life yet why is it that sales and professional creditability can be lost when using this medium? Email does leave a permanent record and in one case I am aware of the salesperson lost their job. Something can be said and soon forgotten but not so on an email.
The following are guidelines when using email:
1. Use in the right context
This means don't use an email when a phone call or a face to face meeting would be the right thing to do. For example, responding to a serious customer complaint. Gen Y salespeople are often criticized for using email instead of a phone call when prospecting for new business.
2. Be polite
Always be courteous in the way you greet and sign off your emails. With new customers or customers you don't know very well be more formal. It is a sign of your respect for them. Use words and phrases such as "Thank you... please... I appreciate your help and all the best."
3. Be concise
Emails are a fast medium that requires a different style of writing. Long winded emails can be tedious to read and at best may be partially read. Use short paragraphs and a line gap between each paragraph to make reading visually comfortable. Keep sentences to a maximum of 15-20 words. Messages should be brief and aim to keep one subject per email whenever possible.
4. Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation
Your personal credibility and that of your company can be affected if you don't capitalise the first letter of a word, have spelling errors, use poor grammar, miss or overuse punctuation. Read your emails twice to check for any errors before sending.
5. Use sentence case
If every word is in CAPITALS LETTERS it is like shouting at the reader. It could be interpreted as a verbal attack. Using all lower case letters can be perceived that the sender is subservient or lacks education. When there is a need to emphasise key words use bold formatting.
6. Replace abbreviations and emoticons
Abbreviations and emoticons have become popular in an attempt to save keystrokes and imply tone of voice. Unless the customer is familiar with this communication confusion may occur. For example: FWIW - For What It's Worth and an emoticon:-). These forms of communication are not appropriate in a business environment. Type in complete sentences and use standard fonts.
7. Use active language
Use the active verb wherever possible because it is a direct and a more personal way of communicating. For example "I will process your order immediately" verses a passive form which is "Your order will be processed immediately."
Emails are a great communication tool that can add to your sales and creditability when used in the right context and the content is written in a professional manner.