Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective
Many of us have been using email for so long that we take established email etiquette for granted. However, a refresher is always a good thing and there are still several email novices in your organization who may feel more comfortable using email if they have some guidelines so please feel free to forward this link to them as well.
- Avoid typing in ALL CAPS – using all caps is the equivalent of shouting.
- Using To & CC – Address e-mails To recipients that you expect to respond to an e-mail or take some action regarding it. If the e-mail is for information only, you can include the recipient in the CC box.
- Use Distribution Lists for emails internal to your organization or for groups of less than 20 users that do not mind having other members of the list see their email addresses. Distribution lists are appropriate for small groups that meet regularly and know each other. (see Arrow-Tip #6)
- Large Recipient Lists– Use an external program for mail merges with more than 25 recipients. Many Internet email hosts will view mail merges to more than 25 recipients as spam. (see Arrow-Tip #7)
- Always respond – Unless an email is rude, unsolicited and sent to you from a stranger, or sent to you for information only, it is customary to respond – especially if the recipient is asking you a question. Even if the question is not one you can or want to answer over email, at least send a reply stating that fact.
- Reply to All– Be careful about using the “Reply to All” feature. This feature can be problematic for a number of reasons including long email chains that start crowding recipients inboxes and potential hurt feelings when emails weren’t really meant for everyone. Reply to all can be helpful when dividing up assignments for a given project so that everyone sees which assignments have been taken – a great example is a Classroom Mom who wants to divvy up food assignments for a class party.
- Check your email daily – at least (unless you do not work every day). Senders generally expect to receive a response within 24 hours of sending an email, even if it is to say that you will get back to them later.
- Always include a descriptive subject line– many email software programs like Microsoft Outlook will throw out a security warning for emails received without a subject. Try to make sure the subject is as descriptive of the email purpose as possible. If you are responding to an old email regarding a new subject, type a new subject line rather than going with the default RE:, etc.
- Keep your message brief – recipients are more likely to read and email that fits in their preview pane. Emails longer than the preview pane tend to get put off while brief emails often get quicker responses. You can always use an attachment for documents and use the email merely to introduce the attachment.
- Keep the size of your email small– Large emails take up a lot of storage on a recipients mail server and can significantly slow down their computer while the email is being delivered. Many companies also flag large emails for investigation. Try to keep emails with attachments under 1 MB unless the recipient is expecting the file. Even then, there are better ways to send large files such as yousendit.com.
- Email is not a substitute for conversation. Although email can be great for transferring information and making quick announcements, it can’t replace good old fashioned conversation. Remember that email text and tones can easily be misunderstood.
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