Posted by: Jane Dominguez, CPA | March 9, 2010

Resuscitate Lifeless Business Email Requests with CPR

 Resuscitate Lifeless Business Email Requests with CPR

 

It is frustrating to send a business email with a clear request and get no response. Why aren’t people responding to your request, your invitation, your proposal or recommendation?

Let’s improve the odds of getting the responses we want. Business readers scan emails quickly to find out what’s in it for them, what they need to know, and instantly decide if something is important for them. Remember, it’s all about them. First, we have to get their attention with a good subject line. The best email subject lines tell the whole story. If your subject line is specific and useful telling your reader why you sent the message, they will be more likely to open it. The body of the message should be the details of the topic you announced in the subject line, not a new topic. Your reader’s attention fades with each sentence, and it is important to pack important information in the subject line and the first two sentences of the message.

There are more ways to help ensure your message gets read, and gets the right results. Try applying business email CPR to your next request or invitation.

CPR Procedures:

  • Clear Writing: Brevity is the key to the right results.  Keep the message short.
    • Don’t write 20 sentences when it can be said in 2 sentences.
    • The average sentence length should be 15-20 words.
    • Short paragraphs or bullet points will make it easy for the reader to scan your message.
    • Use familiar words to make your message clear and easily understood.
  • Courtesy: Please and thank you are always appropriate.
    • The absence of courtesy is a poor reflection of you.
    • Concise, well-written emails show respect the reader’s time.
    • Don’t forget to start with a personal salutation. Messages without a proper greeting are often perceived as terse and demanding.
    • A well-formatted message tells the reader they are important.
  • Provide Needed Details: Make it easy for your reader to say yes.
    • Requesting information: Vague requests don’t get results. Tell the reader specifically what you need. Explain why the information is important and how you will use it.  Remember your reader gets numerous requests each day; make sure yours is the one they give their attention to.
    • Invitation: When inviting your reader to your company’s event, to sign-up for your webinar, to arrange an in-person meeting, or schedule a conference call, providing all the necessary information upfront will increase the chances of them saying yes. Readers will not hunt for the information, and if it’s not clearly provided, they will quickly move on to the next thing. Focus on the reader and what’s in it for them. (Don’t forget to test hyperlinks before sending your email.)
  • Reasons for Reader to Act or Respond
    • Requesting Information:  ‘Because’ is a powerful word. People are more likely to comply with your request if they know why you need it.  As a financial executive for many years, requests for financial information sliced and diced in every which way filled my inbox. Knowing how they would use the information, and why it was important, made it much easier to fulfill their requests in a timely manner.
    • Invitation: Use your best persuasive writing strategies. Focus on the benefits for the reader, what it will do for them, and not the features of your program, recommendation or event. We all want to know, what’s in it for me? Is there a special incentive for them to respond quickly, like a reduced rate or a bonus? If there is, make sure you tell your reader upfront.

Still Not Getting a Response? You’ve sent a well-written email with all the right information, so why haven’t you gotten a response? 

  • Your topic is not a priority for the recipient
  • Your email landed in their spam folder
  • Their inbox is so cluttered, they haven’t even seen your message

It’s time to pick up the phone:

  • You need a critical piece of information to complete a report or other project from a co-worker or associate
  • It’s important to you
  • The request is time sensitive

You’ve sent a clear concise email. You couldn’t reach them by phone and left them a voicemail message, but they never returned the call.  Now what?  If your request is for information from someone within your own company, you will have to try another avenue for getting it. Putting together the financial reports for publicly-held companies required a lot of information from different departments. There always seemed to be one person who didn’t respond in a timely manner, or at all.  If they weren’t in the same building where I could get their attention by standing in their office door, I had to find another person in their department to help me, or sometimes talk to the person above them in the chain of command. 

If you are trying to set up a meeting with someone or include them in your event, there is one more thing you can try. We have forgotten the power of a hand-written note. We are inundated with emails and voicemails, but when a simple hand-written note appears, we respond. A hand-written note tells the recipient that they are important. They feel valued that you would take the time to send them a note. Try it and see, they are pretty hard to resist.

What do you do when you don’t get a response?

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