Make Clients Read Your Email! (Using these Four Principles)

In the world of sales and business today, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that email is king when it comes to communication. That’s why I’d like to discuss the four modern principles of perfect email communication that will ensure clients read your email.

Most people use email as a guide to their tasks for the day, spending their first hour checking new messages over coffee, organizing and colour-flagging, before working their way down this new list of tasks. Throughout the day, emails come in, varying in degree of importance from instantly trash to must respond immediately or I’ll never be able to sleep tonight. We won’t get into the do’s and don’t’s of emails and time management today though.

Your key clients, best prospects, and professional colleagues are likely all doing the exact same thing at their desk in the morning. The question is: how do they react when they see that new email from you? Do they back-burner the notification? Glance at it and let it simmer for hours or even days? Are the emails you write *gasp* being auto-sorted into the trash or some not-urgent or important folder?

It’s time we remedy the way you write your emails. These principles are key for emails not just at work, but to friends, family, as well as when you’re interacting with businesses or customer service departments in your non-sales, civilian life.

Let’s dig in to the four modern principles of perfect email communication.

  1. Write for your reader – not your ego.
  2. Be light, concise, firm, and leading – never supplicating.
  3. Give them what you want, before giving them what they want.
  4. Your email is the launchpad, not the destination.

Write For Your Reader – Not Your Ego

If you’ve ever come up against a serious gatekeeper in sales, you’ve seen someone with email etiquette that is all about their own ego. This is also something we see all too often with self-styled founders and CEOs. What I’m talking about is people who take themselves way too seriously and use their email communication and language to subjugate others.

Usually one look at someones email signature will tell you how just much pomp and circumstance they ascribe to their role, and as such, their communication. For example:

John Randall Doe III, Esquire, M.A., B.S.C.- CSI/FBI – 500+ linkedIn connections
Senior Deputy Regional Executive Assistant in Partnership with
Bob Jackson Williams, J.D., B.F.A, M.D, My Boss,
Lead President & Head CEO & Master of the Universe
~Please do not waste my precious time with your senseless boring emails and I will not answer your calls~

An email from this person may begin “To Whom it May Concern,” or simply “X,” before an ice-cold greeting or none whatsoever. It will likely contain every single flourish of language known to man in an attempt to assert dominance, importance, and otherwise dismiss the person on the other end of the communication. While I will discuss gatekeepers and dealing with them in a future article, what’s important to know for today is:


If you over-formalize your email communication, padding it out with fancy-speak and aggrandizing terms, you are alienating your audience putting up barriers to communicating with you. When you project superiority, you infer inferiority onto your reader. As someone trying to forge a relationship and build a bridge to business, this is the exact opposite of your goal.

Keep your language positive, concise, and clear. Get to the point. Stop building yourself up with lavish, frilly and complicated sentences that just scream STOP READING to whatever poor soul happens to finally open your dreadfully long email. Your email should be a joy to read, not a scolding courtroom proclamation of your superiority. And please, do not write your email as if it was a text-message. Maintain a reasonable level of decorum at all times.

“When you project superiority, you infer inferiority onto your reader.”

Be Light, Concise, Firm, and Leading – Never Supplicating

Continuing from the discussion above, I’m sure you’re asking – “Well, how do I be firm and concise without inferring superiority?” The answer is: by being kind. Keep your email light and easy, but to the point and direct. If you are going to ask a question, don’t beat around the bush to the question or ask it in three times as many words as you need to do so. A quick greeting is good in your initial communique, but beyond that, stick to business in a light, kind manner.

When people open an email that has three lines of greeting, four sentences of how-have-you-been fluff, six sentences of background information and then finally a single question, all they see is a wall of text and skim, glance, delete. Goodbye bonus. Stop sending bloated, chunky emails that read like college essays, complete with intro, body, outro and references. They will not be read.

In addition to being light and concise, you must also be firm and leading in the way you speak. Stop filling your sentence with pre-supposing maybe’s and just’s and I was thinking… This makes your client think you are unsure about these items, and as such, they will be unsure about them too. They will become unsure about how much they truly matter, and poof your email will be deleted. Come back to me when things are solid, your would-be client will think.

Always be firm in your statements – they should read as fact. Always be leading in your language towards YES. This is a key factor in every communication – always be closing to the next step. Do not just leave things to waft away in the ether. You sent them an email for a reason – get to it, and make sure they know what the next step is and are ready to act on it.

Bonus Tip: Your email subject should be the reason for your email, in the form of a question.

“Stop sending bloated, chunky emails that read like college essays, complete with intro, body, outro and references. They will not be read.”

Give Them What You Want, Before Giving Them What They Want

This is something ingrained in us all, starting from childhood education and even preschool. We answer questions in order, as they come. Someone asks of you, and you provide the answer. Easy as that. Now, in the busy world of business today however, your client is likely so caught up in their own affairs that they just want to get the information they needed and move on. This is especially important when conversing with clients already in your sales cycle, or accounts you’re managing in an ongoing manner.

Let’s say you’ve just received an email from a long-time customer regarding current account matters. You have an amazing client event coming up that you want them to attend so you can increase sales. Instinctively, you would want to provide the answer to their burning question foremost in your message, before going on to mention your exciting event. This is incorrect.

Lead with the information you want them to know before giving them the information they need to know.

In this example, start with a short greeting and invitation to your amazing client event. Then you can follow up with the answer to their question.Don’t worry, you’re still answering their important query. You’re just ensuring they learn what you want them to before they move on to whatever else is important to them today.

Your Email Is The Launchpad – Not The Destination

Unless you’re attempting to blanket your prospects with boring emails about a product to build name-recognition. Then yes, the email would be the destination – but most often in this case, the only person making money is the person who sold the marketing plan to the company that bought it. And would you like to know how it was sold it to them?

Over the telephone or in-person.

If you sell anything more than a standard transactional consumer product, you must know that speaking to a person directly using your voice is the absolute best way to build a relationship. Building that relationship is the key to making a deal.

Use your email to be direct, to the point, and concise – and lead them to either a telephone appointment or an in-person meeting over coffee. This is where you can showcase your brilliant personality, your endless vocabulary, your humour and your good nature. Which I’m sure you want to cram into every single piece of email correspondence. This is also where you can discern your prospective customers reactions, emotions, and sway to every word as it comes out of your mouth. You can learn in real-time exactly what they need from you and often give them the answers to any questions right then and there. There will be no lengthy back-and-forth, things missed, details needed. Only the opportunity to proceed to the next step.

“Endless, lengthy email chains are for your customer service team – not relationship building and making sales.”

What Now?

If your inbox is empty, just look at your outbox and read your most recent sent-emails. How much work have you put onto your reader? How hard have you made it for them to simply reply?

Take these four principles and apply them to your correspondence every day this week and see for yourself – people will start to respond – literally.

Also, be sure to check out these three books on effective emails & communication:

  1. Email Persuasion: Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority and Generate More Sales With Email Marketing by Ian Brodie
  2. The Email Cemetery: Where Bad Sales Emails Go to Die…and How to Resuscitate Yours by Charlene DeCesare
  3. Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet

Happy Selling.

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