Sometimes people are surprised to learn that as “The Phone Lady”, I include skills for both email and text in my webinars. The focus of my work, my passion if you will, is clear communication. This includes the words we write – and send – electronically.
Recently, I failed to follow one of my favorite bits of advice about email – and allowed two important summer projects to get disrupted.
What is this piece of advice? Is it impacting your communication with prospects and clients?
I often think of email as the great seduction. My business communication skills were honed “back in the day”, when our sales process included phone conversations (everyone, even CEOs, answered their phones), followed by regular mail and then waiting a week to 10 days for the next discussion and, hopefully, the sale. One of our most-used pieces of office equipment was our postage meter! (I know, some of you are thinking, “What’s a postage meter?”) It was a ton of work and a constant organizational challenge.
So when email arrived, when we could create gorgeous brochures, click attach and hit send … it was glorious. For me, it remains an astonishing communication accomplishment. And I try not to take for granted … until I do.
That’s what happened a few weeks ago.
I wrote two original emails to two clients, not replies. They did include a “Re:” in the subject line as they related to specific projects. One of them involved a new-to-me email address.
And then I moved on to other things. Like most of you, I have a lot going on and hitting send is equivalent to striking something off the to-do list.
But is it?
As the days went by, it would briefly cross my mind that I hadn’t heard from either client. “Well,” I thought, “everyone’s busy and the deadlines aren’t immediate.” Then I’d refocus on other priorities.
This was a mistake.
I had assumed, as we all do, that send meant received. And likely 95% of the time it does. But we can’t know which messages fall into the 5% category … and these messages did.
On May 27th, I received messages from each of these clients. They were apologizing for their lack of response. In both cases, my messages had gone to spam, not their inbox.
This takes me back to my favorite communications quote from Frances Hesselbein:
“Communication is not saying something; communication is being heard.”
Whether we are communicating with prospects or clients, it is 100% our responsibility to make sure they hear us. And this involves letting go of the assumption that sent always means received.
The solution? Pick up the phone. If I’d made quick calls that resulted in either a conversation or a voicemail message, I would have drawn attention to my email and avoided delays in moving the projects forward.