Check Your Email
By Peter L DeHaan
you regard email? Is it something that you can’t live without, a
necessary evil, or somewhere in between? Recently I sent out an
email to 156 salespeople to update and verify some information that
they had submitted. This information was to be printed in a listing
that would help connect potential buyers with my customers. There
was no charge for the listing.
of those messages bounced back immediately, with varying types of
unresolvable error messages. Several more came back after four days
of trying. To their credit, some people responded immediately or
the next day. After a week, I sent a follow-up email to those who I
hadn’t heard from yet. A few additional addresses were
undeliverable with this second round.
both mailings, I received many “out-of-office” messages. Few of
them were of the “out on a sales call” variety, but rather, they
were the “on vacation for two weeks” type. This would not be
alarming, if not for the fact that I had sent my message to email
addresses that had been posted for sales inquires.
result was that of 156 originally contacts, thirteen (8.3%) were bad
email addresses, eighty (51.3%) were apparently good, working email
addresses, but no one bothered to respond, and only sixty-three
answered, either to confirm or update their listing. Remember, this
was not a list that I bought or harvested, but rather the result of
self-submitted email addresses from people who wanted to be
contacted. This was an astoundingly poor 40.4% response rate.
imagine if someone were that apathetic about their telephone
number? The analogy would be that on 8% of call attempts the caller
would receive a “nonworking number” recording or a busy signal, 51%
would ring but never be answered, and only a scant 40% would be
answered by a person and responded to. With a track record like
that, how long do you think a company could stay in business?
you criticize me for implying that email is a comparably critical
comparison to the telephone, I need to point out that email is the
default communication channel for an increasing number of people –
especially the younger generation, who are rapidly becoming the
decision makers at your prospects’ offices.
desire more sales for your company, the simple solution might be to
check your email.
with Your Website: Firstly, you need a Website. I’ve said it
often and I’ll say it again, if your company doesn’t have a Website
you won’t be taken seriously. Once you have a site, check it
periodically to make sure it is still there and working. Sites can
go down (usually temporarily, sometimes permanently), pages can get
deleted, links break, domain names become pointed to the wrong place
– or to nowhere – and on and on.
Track of Your Email Addresses: You need to assign an email
administrator who keeps track of all email addresses that your
company uses. This includes both the ones to individuals (such as
Peter@PeterDeHaan.com), as well as general purpose ones (for
Webmaster@PeterDeHaan.com). When an employee leaves, don’t just
deactivate their email address, but have it forwarded to the email
administrator so that important messages can be received and routed
to the proper person.
Your Email Addresses: Once you’ve accounted for all your email
addresses, they must be periodically checked to make sure they are
working. This is especially true of department and company-wide
addresses. Also, carefully test all of those email addresses that
have an auto-response message or are forwarded to another mailbox.
Both of these situations are prime areas for problems to occur – and
can easily remain undetected for a long time. The most critical
email addresses to check are those that are published. This
includes those listed on your Website; printed in ads, directories,
and listings; and posted online on other Websites. These should be
tested daily. This testing can be automated – just make sure
someone is faithfully checking the logs to ensure the program is
running and the errors are being addressed.
Develop a Vacation Policy: A policy needs to be established for
staff email when they are on vacation. Short of having employees
check their email while gone (a requirement that I would
discourage), an auto-response message is the minimal expectation.
This message must provide the name, number, and email address of a
qualified alternate contact. A preferred approach would be to not
inconvenience the client or prospect and simply have someone check
the vacationing staff’s email account for time critical and urgent
communiqués. (This is an excellent reason to keep business and
personal email separate. Just as you don’t want personal email
encroaching on the business hours, it is wise to keep business email
from detracting from personal time.)
Heighten the Importance of Email: With any mission critical
technology, there are backup options, contingency plans,
notification procedures, and escalation steps. The same needs to
occur with email.
Verify Your Sales Staff: Up until now, I have addressed the
technical side of email. The human side, however, should not be
discounted. Left unchecked, salespeople can become lackadaisical,
forget to check email, or merely delete any lead that doesn’t sound
like a sure thing. This is only remedied through diligent
monitoring and verification.
answer to the commonly asked question, “How can I get more sales”?
may be as simple as “Check your email!”
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