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You Have Mail

I am amazed what an e-mail can accomplish. Back in the 80’s when e-mail became the communication medium of choice it was very easy to get into difficulties. The angry reply with too many people on the cc list was the typical culprit. I sent my share. We have all improved that skill over time.

But it also amazes me how much business is actually conducted over e-mail now, especially business development. It is mostly informal, ultra fast, amazingly efficient, but, more and more, surprisingly effective.

Recently a customer of mine moved his Rolodex into his CRM Contacts and started sending out periodic e-mail blasts with updates regarding what was going on within his company and the marketplace. No creative, no graphics, just some pertinent information that was shared in a conversational tone. About 10% of those outbound messages regularly turn into meetings, which then lead to some kind of meaningful business. Marketing execs would kill to achieve that kind of lift. I think he is a genius.

Slow and Steady

What amazes me even more is how many companies ignore the e-mail channel for reaching their prospects and customers. Yes, I understand that there is too much spam. I am not talking about e-mail blasts that offer me opportunities for appendage extension; I am talking about legitimate sharing of information and offers that connect businesses with their customers. When was the last time you sent out information that updated your customers on a better way to reach your service center or changes in market conditions that could impact their thinking? You don’t have to write a big newsletter! But you can reach a lot of people with a few key strokes in a way that could have big impact.

You do have to offer some value, however. And you also need to know the e-mail addresses of the contacts you hope to reach. This latter requirement does not have to be a big deal. Recently one of my clients declared that it would be too hard for them to gather e-mail addresses for their purchasing customers. To the contrary, and with a small bit of investigating we discovered they already had access to a significant percentage, and had daily contacts that could allow them to capture the majority of their accounts within a few months – and with no appreciable extra effort. What it (collecting e-mail addresses) does require is to make the decision that this invaluable customer data element is captured and stored as a standard component of the customer or account record. No big deal, just make the decision and make it policy. Just stop making excuses for why it can’t be done.

And another thing - if you think your customers don’t use e-mail, you are most likely wrong. They do, they like it, and they are increasingly finding that they can’t work in any other way. Stop buying envelopes and stamps since they are too expensive, too slow, and more than likely getting thrown away (please recycle!).

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