Thursday, September 26, 2013

7 Ways to Manage Your Email (Before it Manages You)

Email is a great way to communicate and can save you time ... when used wisely.

It can also drive you insane.

I hear over and over again from clients how their inbox drives their day because they’re constantly reacting to the latest “ding” announcing the arrival of an email. They’re fearful of missing something important and let their inbox dictate what they will work on today.

If you find yourself in the same boat, here are 7 tips on how you can manage your email -- and stay sane -- taken from my book, Take Back Your Time: 101 Simple Tips To Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life.

1. Schedule a block or two of time during the day to review and answer email, your volume of email will dictate frequency and how long to read email. I schedule a 45-minute session to review email in the morning and an hour session mid-day. Communicate that to your audience in your email signature to set expectations with them.

Here is the exact verbiage from my email signature: “Note: I set aside 7:15 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. CT and 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. CT every day to read and respond to emails. As time permits I also glance through my emails throughout the day. If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until 7:15 a.m. CT or 1 p.m. CT, please contact me via phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more to serve you better.”

2. Write meaningful subject lines (for example, don’t reply to a random email with a completely unrelated topic) and change the subject line if the email has become a chain of emails and the topic has now shifted.

3. When replying “thank you” or writing a very brief email (one sentence), put the thank you or brief sentence in the subject with EOM (End Of Message) at the end. People will know that is the end of the message and there is no need to open your email. I would suggest adding EOM to your key in your email signature mentioned in tip 1 above.

4. Think of key people whose emails you want to stand out in your Inbox. Create rules to color code emails that come in from those individuals. For example, blue from your boss and green from key customers. Then you can quickly scan through your emails to find those that are most critical to respond to quickly.

5. If you are having difficultly composing an email, it usually suggests that a higher order of communication, such as a telephone call or face-to-face meeting, is necessary. Abandon your email and either call the recipient or set up a meeting with them.

6. If you need someone to answer a question right away, don’t send an email hoping she’ll see it instantly and promptly respond to you. Just call her.

7. Move emails directly from your Inbox to your calendar and schedule a block of time to complete the request in the email. This saves you time as you won’t need to add it to a task list and you’ll remember at an appropriate time in the future to complete the request.

What's your favorite way to manage email?

A guest article by Shari McGuire, founder of and author of Take Back Your Time: 101 Simple Tips To Shrink Your Work-Week and Conquer the Chaos in Your Life.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The 30-Second, 6-Figure Marketing Idea

If your marketing depends on one-shot promotions, a sales letter mailed once, or a single email blast, it’s just like this little broom ... 

... and you will find it very difficult to sweep up profits.

By contrast, if your marketing has at least 3 steps built into every promotion -- if you "touch" every prospect at least 3 times with your sales letters, postcards, emails, or phone calls, it's just like this broom ... 

... and you will find it relatively easy to sweep up profits.

Idea: Stop with the one-shot promotions. Unless you enjoy drudgery and feast-or-famine when it comes to cash flow.

Instead, be systematic. Use multiple steps -- at least 3. And sweep up more profits in your business.

This idea is worth at least 6 figures to you ... but only if you use it.

And, if you want to put an end to "feast or famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your free copy now, while they last

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Avoid Being Commoditized

Here's a guest post from my client and ace sales trainer, Terry Slattery.

Read it and reap -- sales gains, that is ...

One day, a salesman client moped into my office. He had lost his biggest customer -- who had been with him for 10 years -- over a 3-cent price difference. He pleaded, “How do I win them back?”

I said, "Answer this question: ‘What's going to happen to whom because they are not buying cinnamon from you, and how will that affect their life?’”

First, background: A new purchasing agent had called my client, saying: “I understand you've been providing us great service for 10 years. But you charge 3 cents a pound more for the same cinnamon I can get anywhere. Out of respect for our relationship, I want to give you the chance to match that lower price before I move the business.”

The salesman started talking about service and support. Then freshness and quality. But, like a broken record, the buyer kept coming back to 3 cents a pound … 3 cents a pound. And the business was lost.

Turns out, my client never mentioned his big Differentiating Value (D.V.): Time to market. This salesman, who nearly has a PhD in food science, told me, “In exchange for charging a slight premium on cinnamon, I shared my expertise with their R&D department. Without my help, they estimate it will take at least 3 weeks longer to get a product to market.”

When I asked what those 3 weeks meant in terms of money, he said, “About $80,000 in daily sales. Three weeks are $1.6 million. And they roll out about 6 products a year. All told, it’s about an opportunity cost of about $10 million.”

I asked, “Who feels that $10-million loss? It’s sure not the purchasing department.”

He thought for a moment, then said, “It’s the brand manager.” I asked him, “Do you even know their name?” “No,” he replied. And I said, “That’s fascinating because that is your real customer.”

A strange look came over my client’s face. He said, “I thought I was selling cinnamon. But what I’m really selling is 3 weeks.”

This story has a happy ending. I advised him to call the brand manager and leave a voicemail, which resulted in a rapid return call -- and my client winning back the account.

Your Takeaway: No matter what you sell, you face the curse of commoditization … unless you get absolutely clear on your D.V., then communicate it to the customer who matters -- which may be a different customer than the one you’re selling to.

To get clear on your D.V. -- and get the script for the startling voicemail message that helped my client win back that lost account, contact Terry Slattery at his website.

And, if you want to put an end to "feast or famine" syndrome in your business, my free Client Cloning Kit can help. Grab your free copy now, while they last.