Boost Productivity by Adopting These Email Management Best Practices

BY Jessica Helinski
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Email communications are an important part of sales, but sellers may struggle with successful email management. On average, salespeople spend 13 working hours per week on emails. And while email is necessary, reps may not be taking advantage of best practices to use it efficiently. 

It can be a quick and effective way to complete tasks,” writes Natalie Hamingson for Business Daily. “However, if you don’t follow healthy email management practices, it can seem like your inbox is the one managing you.”

Sales Email Management Strategies and Tips

Even the smallest adjustments to how you approach email can improve efficiency. And getting rid of old habits ensures you stay ahead of your inbox. The first suggestion that Hamingson shares is to create a schedule. 

While it doesn’t have to be a strict schedule to follow to the minute, it should offer some structure. Typically, sellers spend too much time checking their inboxes, and they may not even realize it.

As Harsh Vardhan writes for Hiver, “Even though email seems less intrusive than a phone call, it can end up creating far more stress. You often end up worrying about it all day without really acting on it.”

To remedy this, set aside specific blocks of time each day for managing your emails. No specific time will work for each and every seller; if you aren’t sure where to start, Hamingson recommends trying three different times for a week. Then, adjust as needed. Also, don’t forget to schedule that time in your calendar to limit distractions and multitasking. If you don’t set and stick to boundaries, your efforts at email management likely won’t succeed. 

Don’t be Afraid to Delete

One of the easiest ways to avoid being overwhelmed by managing emails is to delete messages that you don’t need. While this is easier said than done, it must be done to cut back on clutter. And determining which emails to trash really is pretty simple. “Be brutally honest with yourself, think practical, and delete what you don’t need or won’t act on,” Vardhan advises. 

And as the professionals at Pipedrive suggest, definitely hold on to the emails that: 

  • Help you progress towards a deal (e.g. a prospect inquiry or useful client information from a colleague)
  • Form part of a valuable buyer or supplier relationship (e.g. support correspondence with an existing customer)
  • Help you improve your selling or marketing skills (e.g. part of an online sales course or newsletter)”

If you aren’t sure if you should keep an email, archive it to move it out of the main inbox. 

Use the OHIO Method

Another email management tip to consider is the OHIO method: Only Handle It Once. This tactic ensures you interact with an email in as few moves as possible, cutting down on wasted time. 

It doesn’t mean that you read an email and immediately move on, never to revisit it again. Instead, as Pipedrive shares, it does “require one or more of the following actions before deleting or archiving the new email to leave your inbox clear," such as:

  • Reply
  • Forward
  • Organize a follow-​up meeting
  • Turn the email into a task (or flag it for more attention)
  • Consciously do nothing (if none of the above are necessary)

The OHIO method helps you be more proactive with your emails as soon as you read them, which invites the next step and keeps processes moving. You also save time by cutting down on future inbox maintenance. 

Email communication is an important part of selling, but don’t let your inbox get out of control. By implementing email management practices, you stay on top of your emails, prioritize responses and avoid wasting time.

Photo by Yan Krukau