Converting e-mail mystery to e-mail mastery.

Converting e-mail mystery to e-mail mastery.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Every day for the past ten years, I have received at least one e-mail about e-mails.

What’s the best way?
What’s the best subject line to use?
How do I make sure that my e-mail is read?

Questions about the most dynamic method of communication ever created.

E-mail and text messaging is replacing just about every form of communicating. Look at the post office, and its dwindling mail volume. E-mail will not only replace mail, at some point it will also begin to replace the people that deliver it.

Fast-communicating wireless laptops, tablets and cell phones now give most people instant access to communication. “Thumbing” is touch-typing in the 21st century.

E-mail and text messaging even have their own set of abbreviations, their own set of words – even their own grammar parameters.

I get e-mails all the time chastising other e-mails.
“You shouldn’t use lowercase.”
“You shouldn’t use word abbreviations.”

But the bottom line is e-mail has taken over, and is not going to go away. Not in our lifetime. Not in our children’s lifetime. Not in their children’s lifetime. Not until thought transmission replaces text transmission.

E-mail is the perfect communication device for salespeople because it’s a shortcut. Shortcut to a cold call. Shortcut to a sales call. Shortcut to a follow-up call. Shortcut to a service response. The good news is it works. The bad news is it doesn’t work often enough, because many salespeople are lazy and rude.

The challenge with e-mail is that you’re faceless, and silent. I have often responded to my own staff with a short e-mail that says, “Pick up the phone and call them.”

The key to maximizing the effectiveness of e-mail is blending it with voice contact,
and face-to-face contact.

Think about your own e-mail. What bugs you about the e-mails you receive? I’m sure you can put spam at the top of the list. But what about unsolicited e-mails from people wanting you to get involved in their whatever: join my group, become linked in, please update my address book because I’m too lazy, and other irritating, annoying, relationship turn off elements, that have trashed any opportunity you may have had to do something productive or profitable? If you want to update your address book, since when am I involved?

I have some general rules about e-mail that will serve as a big picture for anyone interested in taking advantage of the business opportunity that e-mail affords:

  1. If you’re going to send an e-mail to someone, think about why they would respond, based on why you would respond. If you put yourself in the recipients inbox, your content will be much more valuable and much more compelling.
  2. If you’re going to send me a message (of any kind) and I don’t know you very well, make certain that the message is short, sweet, valuable, and clear. Without these four elements, a fifth element will appear. It’s called the element of delete.
  3. Write, edit, think, send. Most people “send” in an instant, rather than think it through. Have you ever received one of those feeble e-mails that says “I’m calling this e-mail back” or “Disregard the last e-mail I sent you.” What the person means is, “I sent an impulsive e-mail and wish I hadn’t.” Or “I didn’t proofread my e-mail and wish I did.”
  4. Use your own delete button before you hit the send button. There’s a group of e-mails that say nothing, or alienate. Some people believe that it’s their daily job to pass along a story, a plea for help, something they think that is funny which is not funny, or other wastes of time that also make you look like a fool in the mind of the recipient.

4.5 Have a value-driven message, not a sales-driven message. And finally, there’s the sales pitch e-mail. One that goes on ad-nauseam stating your case, explaining why you’re the greatest in the world, and begging the recipient to take some kind of action — other than hit the delete key.

If this seems a little (or a lot) negative, it’s because I’m trying to throw cold water on your keyboard without dampening your desire to be the best. Stop thinking about e-mail as a shortcut and a quick fix, and start thinking about it as THE communicating opportunity of the century that you’re going to master so you can stand out instead of being spammed out.

START HERE: Look at every e-mail you’ve sent over the last 30 days.

  • What else could you have done to make them more effective?
  • What other ways could they have been delivered?
  • Which messages were avoidable?
  • Which ones required a phone call that you were too afraid or too lazy to make?
  • Which ones never got responded to?
  • And how could you have improved the value of the messages that you sent in order to make them more compelling and more respected on the part of the recipient?

People complain to me all the time about how much of their day is spent responding to e-mails. Perhaps if you spent a little more time studying the e-mail process and mastering the e-mail opportunity you would be reveling in the e-opportunity rather than wallowing in e-misery.


There’s one kind of e-mail that everyone loves to receive. If you want to know what it is, go to, register if you’re a first-time user, and enter the word YAYMAIL in the GitBit box.