Every business out there is using email these days. For some, it serves administrative purposes, such as their paper trail for incoming invoices or internal communication. Email is one of their inbound sales channels for other businesses, with leads writing to a
sales@... address. And it’s easy. An email has a low entry barrier. Everybody has an email address, and creating a
sales@... address for inbound requests is a five-minute task.
But then, how do you work off all incoming mail? Some might be spam and can get deleted right away. Others require a reply or some other action. The larger the company, the more likely several people will monitor the inbox. I’m sure you got one of these emails as well in the past:
Subject: FWD: Incoming Lead Hey, could you go and take care of that? --- Hi team, I saw your pricing page, and I'm wondering if it's possible to talk to a Salesperson to discuss some custom pricing? Best, John Doe
Your colleague just screened the sales inbox and dispatched all new emails to other team members, including assignments. But, there are two problems with this approach:
- How does your colleague keep track of those emails that have been assigned?
- How do you keep track of all your “assigned” emails?
- How do you keep track of tasks somebody else has to do for that particular email?
Email is great for communication, but it can’t keep any additional context. The result: Super-long forwarded email chains with To-Dos and comments. It takes forever to find relevant information in there. Also, it’s not clear who is assigned to work on the original message. In small teams, this might not seem like a huge deal. But over time, the team grows and also the volume of incoming messages. Both circumstances increase the management overhead, eventually resulting in “email bankruptcy”.
How do you prevent “email bankruptcy”?
The key to preventing email bankruptcy is making work visible and standardizing it. Even though you’re managing the Sales inbox, there could be all sorts of requests in there, such as sales inquiries, customer support issues, administrative emails (expired domains, 2FA notifications), or spam. Each type of email requires a different workflow:
- Sales Inquiries: Ask the prospective customer for a meeting and start the sales process
- Customer Support: Either answer the question right away or forward the request to the customer support team
- Administrative Emails: Decide, if the email requires any action, such as renewing the domain
- Spam: Delete
If you’d log in to the Sales inbox and work off emails from top to bottom each day, it’s easy to lose the overview. Also, if you need to delegate any work, it’s challenging to keep track of it. Let’s start improving things. From now on, you treat every email as a task (Such as reply to the customer, renew a domain, …) or delete it right away if it’s spam.
To enforce this new workflow, use Zapier and a task tracker like Trello or Asana. Zapier connects to your inbox and the task tracker. Configure Zapier to listen for new emails and convert them into a task inside the task tracker.
From now on, you start your work in the task tracker. Elaborate tagging and folder techniques are a relic of the past. If an email is in the “TODO” column, assign it to yourself and move it in progress. You might still open the sales inbox to reply to prospective customers, but now it is transparent who worked off the request. If there’s any additional information for a particular email, you can add it to the task. If a teammate wonders how a specific sales request gets handled, they can search previous tasks and emails to see how the team worked on it in the past.
Your advantage: You don’t have to forward emails anymore and assigned responsibilities for each communication. It’s the first step towards standardized work units.
What’s your email workflow? Do you use Helpdesk software for your Sales inbox? Comment below with your solution.