When it comes to emails versus in-person meetings, you lose the important benefit of eye contact, a strong handshake and your sparkling smile. All of which contribute to a positive initial impression. This is why it is important when you have that first email contact opportunity to be sure to provide the best professional impression possible with spot-on email replies.
Here’s how to accomplish just that!
Many believe that email is instantaneous. Depending on the current network status most of the time email is pretty darned quick. That is why those new contacts will have lightning-fast expectations for email replies
This is a customer service issue that should not be underestimated. Show your contacts how important they are to you with a speedy response.
By not responding promptly you might be viewed as unorganized, uncaring or worse yet, risk being outperformed by your competitors who understand the importance of appearing efficient and on the ball.
Personalized formal greeting
With first contacts always use the highest level of formality (Hello, Mr. Doe, Ms. Smith, Dr. Jones, etc.) when addressing by name. Formality is a sign of respect after all!
You can generally determine how to address future email replies based on how your new contact replies to your response.
After typing your greeting and their name, include an appreciative opening statement such as:
- Thank you for your email!
- I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions!
- I’m excited to provide the information you requested!
There are times when new contacts will send you a “laundry list” inquiry with multiple questions that they want your input on. This is where down-editing is a valued skill.
Why is top posting (just hitting reply and starting to type) not conducive to clarity in your communications? You can very easily neglect addressing all details requested in the email you are responding to, questions can end up unanswered, and/or a gray area is created as to what your comments are specifically replying to.
Below is an example of a down-edited email response.
By down-editing your email properly, you can provide that oh-so-important tech-savvy impression with new business contacts who will be determining what it will be like to do business and communicate with you via email.
Since most onliners are anemic in this area, you will shine by making these simple efforts!
Once you hit Reply, and type a courteous greeting, you down-edit by removing any part of the email you are responding to that is not necessary to the ongoing conversation. This includes email headers (all that server and routing info at the top of some email) and signature files. You then proceed to respond point by point.
The best way to down-edit properly is to hold your left mouse button down and drag it over the text you want removed then hit delete.
- Hit your enter key twice to put a line space between where you will type your response and the text you are replying to above. Then type your comments as it relates to the content above.
- Continue to do the same as the email continues. Remove what doesn’t matter, leave what does, hit enter twice and type your reply.
ex·plic·it – adjective
fully and clearly expressed or demonstrated; leaving nothing merely implied; unequivocal: explicit instructions; explicit language.
clearly developed or formulated: explicit knowledge; explicit belief.
definite and unreserved in expression; outspoken: He was quite explicit as to what he expected us to do for him.
By making the effort to be explicit in your email replies you will reflect that it is important to you to be a concise communicator. Being explicit also minimizes the potential for any misunderstandings.
Always include complete sentences within short paragraphs. Using bulleted lists to get your points across is simple and effective.
Before clicking Send, do a quick review of your response to make sure that you are addressing all the specific concerns or questions that the inquiry entailed.
Review for grammatical and spelling errors
Modify To:, Cc: fields and prune or add as needed
A new contact emails you with a list of names in the To: and Cc: field. What do you do? With new relationships where you do not know all the To: and Cc: individuals, Reply to All. Your new contact has made the determination who they want to know about your conversation. Back that up by doing the same.
When you add a Cc: that your new contact does not know, state that in your email. “I’m Cc:ing Jane Doe in this response so that she may begin working on your package.”
As your relationship matures and you know who “needs to know” your response, you can take the liberty of adding or removing names from these fields. But do so with discretion.
Always think about minimizing unnecessary email volume for others. This will contribute to you being appreciated as an efficient communicator!
Intent and tone
Leave emotion out and bring prudence in! Many times your emotions can cause you to misinterpret intent, overemphasize emphasis, or completely read between the lines rather than taking the words used at their face value.
If you find you are responding to a business communication out of pure emotion; stop and walk away and do another task. Wait until you can respond without your emotions reading into an email something that may not be there.
Professionals know how to use the written word to communicate their intent and tone without having to make fonts larger or aggressively red in color with multiple instances of unnecessary punctuation. Make a point of reading your email replies out loud to make sure your intent and tone are appropriate.
Closing and signature file
Your closing is an opportunity to include your call to action. Do you want the recipient to follow-up, contact you if they have questions, fill out a survey or schedule a meeting? Wrap things up by letting your potential new customer know precisely what the next step is — and that you are there for them if they have any concerns or questions.
Use the appropriate signature file that includes your sign-off, name and a link to your website. Including your phone number in your signature file places your contact information conveniently in your customer’s inbox.
Get a competitive edge with the best email replies
We all know how competitive business is. Making it easy and efficient to communicate with you via email will give you the competitive edge! Not only that, how you respond to new contacts via email can seal the deal and help you to nurture your business contacts so they can grow into profitable partnerships.
Also published on Medium.