We all need more selling time! But how do we get it when there are so many other things that pull our attention away? Just email alone can swallow up 2 hours of my day. The inbox fills up within minutes of the time I clear it out.
I know I’m not alone because just this week I helped 4 people with this problem. It’s impossible for most of us to focus with all that email sitting there. We are wondering if there is a big order or a client canceling or some other important message, but 90% of it is not urgent and we dig through all that email instead of completing our priority items first.
If we are in sales, our highest payoff activity is always selling, not answering email, so we need a better way to handle it.
One of the best ways to get less email is to send less! Simple. Yes, and it works. Think about each email you send; do you really need to send it? Who needs to receive it? Could you serve yourself and others better by picking up the phone or skype or could this be a quick IM (Instant Message) conversation?
Stop letting email dictate the order of the tasks you do. Learn to prioritize. I see that most people run their day by their email. They look at their email box and start with the email that is on top, which in most cases is the newest email. This is not necessarily the most important, either. It’s much better to look at the older email first, those have been waiting longer. DO go through your email and prioritize the tasks – DON’T do them as they appear. You may have some hours of clean up to get to a point where this system will work.
Unfortunately, we have trained our customers and prospects to expect an instant response by email. They think something is wrong if they don’t receive a reply within minutes. No salesperson should be sitting at their desk replying to emails unless that is the only way they get orders. If you are out selling, it will be a couple hours before you can check your email. Re-train your clients and set reasonable expectations for returning emails. No instant replies. If they need something urgently, tell them the best alternative way to reach you or someone at your office who can tend to their concern.
What To Do With All That Email
Do it, delete it or delegate it. Hey it sounds simple, but it works. The first thing you need to do is block time each day to work on email. I do it about 3 times a day. Each morning I review my day and then check email quickly to see if there is anything that will change my priorities. I check right before or right after lunch and I check at the end of my day. Of course sometimes I have so much email I have to spend several hours after work to get it organized. Here is how I do it.
If it is something that can be done in 5 minutes or less, I do it.
If I have done it, then most of the time I can delete it. Many of the items I can scan quickly and see that they are junkmail, a newsletter or something I don’t need. So deleting is the best action.
Three things fall into this category.
- Delegate it to my own calendar to do at a later date. If I do that, I also file it in the appropriate folder and drag it on to my calendar so it is easy to find when I need it.
- Delegate it to another person with specific instructions about what needs to be done by when. If I do that, I use a method that reminds me to follow up to be sure it was completed.
- Delegate it to a folder or file for safe keeping. Sometimes no action is required, but it is something important that I may need access to again, like a signed agreement from a client. I put it in the appropriate email folder or save the attachment in the appropriate file.
Your inbox is empty by then end of the day, or nearly empty. With email, messages fly in at any time so it is likely you will have a few that pop in at the end of the day that will wait until morning. You feel more at ease because you have done your priority items and you know what is lurking in your email. Instead of your email ruling you, you have rules for your email. Don’t forget to consider sending less as a way to receive less, it works. Freeing up your time to sell is a priority. I know that these methods work because I use them and I teach my clients to use them and it makes a significant difference.
If you use any other great methods to deal with email, please share them in the comment section for all of our readers. If you would like to train your team on this and other time management strategies for sales, ask me about Making Minutes®,or for online training’s that will benefit you and your company, visit our events page at: www.aliceheiman.com/events.
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.