While working with a client's sales team, one of their sales engineers called me to ask for some advice. He shared an email response with me and wanted to get some feedback. The email was long and technical, so not only did it take me quite some time to read, I also didn’t understand 80% of what was written there. So, I asked the sales engineer who reached out what exactly he was hoping to get from our conversation, and he responded with “not really sure but I feel like something is missing”.
"Let’s break it down," I offered. Almost every communication I am sending out I am going through 2 main aspects. The WHAT and the HOW.
The WHAT – that’s the easy one. This is the content of the communication itself.
In this case, the technical element. Am I responding to the task at hand? To what the recipient is looking for? Specifically, to a request or question. On this part of the communication, I would recommend following a simple rule. If someone asks you if you know the time, reply to that! Yes or no. Do not offer the time, do not ask in which time zone, just yes….or no.
The HOW – this is where it gets a bit more in depth and where Emotional Relevance™ comes to play. My guidance here is what do you want THEM to FEEL? In the past we have been trained to think about what we want them to DO after reading our email response, and while this is still true, there are some recent studies showing that if we cater to the emotional aspect, the resulting outcome is much more prone to happen. And for that I use the following formula:
What would I like the outcome of this email to be? Be specific. Do you want them to take your response to their boss for approval? Do you want them to respond to a specific ask in your correspondence? Do you want them to schedule a follow up call and bring that specific SME on their side? Without understanding the specific desired outcome, you will not be able to select the appropriate feeling or vibe to this correspondence.
Who are we sending this to? What do we know about THEM? And where are we on the trust meter? Finding out their hobbies, which team they root for, their family status - it will help us in word our message accordingly. Go to their LinkedIn profile, their Facebook page, Instagram, TikTok. Not only will learn how to approach them, you will also find many emotional anchors to refer to in your ongoing relationship, which will help you in making an impact. If their LinkedIn profile is all business, very organized and borderline OCD, you would probably want your email to have the same feel. If their Facebook page is all about their kids, including pictures from last weekend’s birthday party of one of their children, I would make sure to mention my kids in my response.
Keeping the desired outcome in mind, which feeling, or emotion will drive them to that outcome? Will getting them fearful make them get their boss involved? Will making them feel inspired move them towards reaching out to that SME? If they felt a high level of uncertainty, will that result in them inquiring again on that specific topic we wanted to further discuss? There are many emotions and feelings we could utilize here to move them towards that coveted outcome and when we do use emotions, we simply get them involved on a deeper level which usually results in a higher sense of belonging from their end. If you have hard time tapping into this idea of specific feelings or emotions - think of it as a vibe. Instead of thinking ONLY about what you want them to do when you send that email, think about the vibe of the message. Do you want it to feel all business or a bit more personal? Do you want to instill some sense of urgency into the message or is it more laid back?
What kind of language should we use? What kind of a language would you use if this was a stricter and corporate-like vibe VS. a more personal vibe? Would you start the email with a “hey man” or with a “Happy Monday Sam”? Would you use language such as: “According to the agreed upon KPIs …” or “so, last week it was clear we are both looking at the same goals”? The online communication VIA Zoom and others during the pandemic has allowed us to be less “corporate”. Gave us the option to be a bit more personable. Use it. Get Personal.
Where are we on our trust meter from 1 to 10? If we shared some personal information in the past, if we got a bit intimate in our relationship and I feel comfortable consulting them on a personal matter we are at 7-10. If it’s pretty much all technology, business and our conversations are around the KPIs and the only thing they know about me and me about them is where we live then we are at 1-3. If we are at around the bottom you will probably want to keep it (for now) mostly business like and if you are on the top of that meter, well, then “Hey man” is definitely the right vibe.
Feel free to test the water and push the boundaries a bit. If you are at 4 in that Trust Meter, start sharing yourself. Open up. Get Personal. The other side will reciprocate almost automatically and will instantly push you up to a 5, 6 and so on.
“Trust is always earned. Never given”
Whether your email is technical in nature, or you are finalizing a sale through offering a discount. Whether you have worked with this client for three months or three years, be aware. Check yourself. Take a minute to go through the motions and assess both the desired action and the emotion of the communication.
Create the relevant vibe and the action will come along.
I wonder, how did you FEEL reading this? Where are WE on OUR trust meter?