At every step of the sales process, your sales team is sending emails. There are email introductions, emails to schedule phone calls and demos, and emails to answer product questions.
With sales reps handling hundreds of accounts per day, it’s no surprise the average worker spends 30 hours a week checking email. That’s a huge chunk of time to be dedicated to your inbox, which means an open opportunity to seriously level up your sales team’s productivity.
At SalesforceIQ, we’re all about automation and productivity. And as the driving force of predictive analytics for Salesforce, our team is constantly searching for unique solutions to the common problems facing the modern salesperson. So, in this post I thought, what better problem to tackle than email?
To really amp up email productivity, we need to break down the problem first:
What are all the components of email? Where are all the places we can save time?
- Writing: Composing Email Messages
- Scheduling: Schedule Phone Calls and Meetings by Email
- Email Prioritization: Manage Your Inbox and Get Organized
Let’s tackle each piece one by one, and get your team to Inbox Zero.
Email Writing: Become an Email Wizard with Shortcuts
At the bare bones level, emails are long text-based messages. There are tons of posts written by business leaders on their favorite email tips, but I’d like to get back to the basics first before we pull out the fancy stuff: plain and simple email text.
The largest time sync is usually in the writing process — the time you spend composing and replying to emails. Just like with handwritten text, you can use shortcuts to speed up the pace of your writing (that don’t require you to be a 200 WPM typing god).
Hack #1: Type Faster Than You Thought Was Possible
Introducing a secret weapon showed to me by a coworker: aText
aText is an app that accelerates your typing by replacing abbreviations with frequently used phrases, consider it the digital version of shorthand. You start by collecting phrases and messages commonly used in your email repertoire, and create relevant text shortcuts that will be a breeze to memorize.
For example, let’s say you’re a sales rep who’s following up with leads from your website and you notice you’ve been writing, “I’d like to offer you a free demo” in nearly every email. You can designate a shortcut with a textual hint such as “;demo,” using a colon, “;” so as not to confuse the phrase with regular text. Quick shortcuts for other repetitive phrases could be “;ty” for “Thank you for your time” and “;chat” for “Let’s chat over coffee.”
Your sales team probably sends hundreds of emails a week, or even per day, so this simple trick can instantly increase their writing speed and shave hours off their workweek.
Hack #2: Auto-Populate Your Emails with Standard Templates
Another way to cut down on email text are email templates, a full-length email that can be quickly inserted into your email composition box. Anywhere you see repetition in your email communication is an opportunity to save time and automate.
Rather than copy and paste back and forth between an email template in GoogleDocs or Word, use a browser extension or plug-in that stores your sales email templates so you can quickly populate an email message in a matter of seconds.
Standard email templates are commonplace for many sales teams, but copy and pasting back and forth between docs and your inbox is an unnecessary pain.
Take it one step further with email templates for smartphone inbox. These days, salespeople are fast moving and need to be mobile when visiting clients, travelling to different sites, and managing communication wherever and whenever.
Having email templates readily available straight from your smartphone is a godsend.
Schedule Through Email in Seconds
Hack #3: Email Scheduling Without the Hassle
I’d like to dedicate this section solely to the long email threads in my inbox that go something like this:
- Person A: “Could we get on the phone to discuss?”
- Person B: “Sure, when are you available?”
- Person A: “I can speak next week, Tuesday or Thursday.”
- Person B: “Next week I’ll be out of office. Could we do the following Tuesday at 10?”
- Person A: “That would work. Could we move to 10:30am? Is that Pacific Time?”
This took 5 emails, and the meeting date is still not finalized. Salespeople and customer success reps have to schedule sales calls and product demos on a daily basis, that adds up to a huge number of email communication.
Can we all agree that these email threads need to go?
Get an email plug-in that syncs with your calendar, ready for people outside your network to plug in their schedule. There are a ton on the market, including Vcita, a professional scheduling software.
Email Prioritization: Getting to Inbox Zero
So we’ve covered shortcuts for writing emails and reducing the headache of scheduling meetings, but how do you make an effort to reduce the number of emails being sent?
Hack #4: Make Your Inbox a Haven for Sales and Customer Emails
This is a popular tip, but I couldn’t emphasize it enough. Get Slack for your sales team. I used to be a non-believer thinking that GChat was enough to satisfy all your messaging needs but after the second inspection, Slack is a winner.
And why? Because over time, Slack clears your inbox of all internal team and company communications; all the short messages, company updates, quick questions, one-on-one conversations, and funny GIFs from your teammates are moved out of your inbox to an intuitive messaging interface, I’d liken to a cross between WhatsApp and Reddit.
Your sales team can use their inbox for its primary purpose: sales and customer emails.
Hack #5 Email Prioritization: What Emails Can I Snooze for Later?
Once you’ve shifted a lot of conversation to Slack, or your messenger of choice, we can get into prioritizing what’s left over. Bucketing your emails by will allow you to tackle conversations with customers that immediately need your attention and go back to issues and conversations with your team that can be addressed at a later time.
There are a couple ways you can do this.
Email filters are a great choice and offer the most customizability. Filter out company updates, notifications, newsletters, and other messages that don’t require your immediate attention. If you have a few key accounts for your business, you may want to create a filter that immediately stars messages received from those customers.
Another great option is an email software that helps you manage your inbox. I’d recommend Sanebox, their “snoozing” feature is exactly what I’d hope from a smart inbox.
Hack #6 Email Keyboard Shortcuts
Most of us are familiar with keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word and Excel, we know the keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting formulas and insert lines where we need them. But what about your inbox?
This is the secret trick you’ve been missing out on: Email shortcuts.
Check out the build-in shortcuts for Gmail and Outlook, or simply search in the helpdesk for whichever email provider you use. My personal favorites for Gmail are “#” to move an email to trash, “y” to remove an email from your current view or archive an email, and “shift + u” to mark an email as unread.
Having these shortcuts in place to quickly categorize your emails will cut through your inbox like butter. All of the trimmings will be cut in an instant.