If you work in a modern office, you get emails. If you're perceived as anyone with buying power in an organization, you get lots of emails. If you're a CMO, heaven help you. As prospecting and email automation tools have advanced, what was once an email stream has become a flood.
You could just delete them all, of course, but somewhere in the back of your mind you believe there’s a product or service buried in your inbox that could help you do your job better. In fact, some companies mandate that marketing employees entertain a set number of new vendor pitches to stay on top of the ever-evolving industry. That’s great in theory, but time-sucking in practice.
We talked with a handful of marketing decision-makers and came away with some ideas for how to manage the sales email siege.
1. Keep a list of services needed.
It sounds simple, but without a list of your current operational needs, it’s harder to remember to engage when the right vendor comes along. One person I spoke with keeps a list taped to his monitor so his needs are always top-of-mind. Sure, there are products and services being developed that you don’t even know you need yet, but this practice can offer a good initial filter.
2. Determine what "it" is.
If you can't figure out what the offer is within the first few sentences of an email, delete it. Salespeople have a responsibility to clearly and concisely explain what they're selling. Unfortunately, many software and tech companies develop language that appeals exclusively to the tech or investor community, leaving buyers confused. If they can't communicate clearly to you in a pitch, they’d likely make for a frustrating long-term partner.
3. Don't be afraid to respond with questions.
If you're still not sure, always remember that beyond taking a meeting or not, you have a third option: asking for more information. If you choose to follow-up on their initial email, be specific and brief. Force the salesperson to answer your questions.
Some people were afraid to respond at all for fear they would lead the salesperson on. We're all grown-ups here. (See the last tip on this list.) Remember, sending an email is much less time-consuming then getting on a pitch call. This is all about efficiency.
4. Set ground rules for the call.
If you decide to take a call, remember you can set the rules. Most sales people will be glad that you agreed to a call, so they'll take five minutes or as long as you'll give them.
Many people I spoke with set a 15-minutes limit with the salesperson before the call. If there's a need to talk further, you can schedule a follow-up. Others have a set agenda for every call they take. The point is, it's up to you. Have fun with it.
5. Shoot straight.
Salespeople are used to rejection - they handle it all day long, so if you need to turn someone down, remember that you won't be the first or the last to do so, and it’s okay to be honest. The biggest favor you can do yourself and the salesperson is to say you're not interested if you’re not. Otherwise, you'll get follow-up emails forever, wasting their time and yours. That's no fun for anyone.
No plan is foolproof, but following these suggestions should help you stay on top of the newest technology and services available without getting too bogged down in your inbox. We'll be publising a follow-up post to this in a few months featuring what works for you, so please send us your plan.