alt text mage of a man trapped in a jar sending email

The Limited Value Of An Email

It takes a lot of email messages to make up a single telephone conversation. I don’t have a mathematical formula, but my guess is that if the conversation is of some small importance, 11 email messages may make up a single, short telephone conversation. If the conversation is seriously important, the number of emails rises proportionally. Why? It’s the wrong medium for the exchange.

Oh, you’d rather email someone than bother them with a phone call? It’s bothering someone to have to respond to five emails about the same subject.

If it takes a lot of email messages to make up a single telephone call, what’s the math on a face-to-face conversation? If I had to guess, it might be something close to 63 email messages to make up single face-to-face conversation. And the communication, even though it’s in writing, is poorer.

The need to have whole conversations over “mail” ended with the invention of the telephone. Email is very much like postal mail. You wouldn’t want to have an important conversation over mail, would you? It would take too long, and it would lose something, wouldn’t it? Email is even more like a telegraph.

How to Decide to Use Email

Email is excellent when you need to send information to another party. It’s also excellent when you need an answer that doesn’t require any real conversation.

Email is a poor medium when the topic is important or when a discussion is necessary (like your proposal and pricing). It’s a horrible medium for resolving issues, problems, or challenges. It’s also a horrible medium for many of the sales conversations that are attempted through email.

Are you sharing information? Need a quick, easy answer? Nothing easily lost in translation? Send an email.

Important issue or request? Requires dialogue? Much of what needs to be communicated can’t (or won’t) be communicated effectively over email? Schedule a face-to-face meeting, a video chat, or a phone conversation (in that order).

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    awesome article

  • Jim Shiminski

    Anthony, Nice post. This is a message I share with our people nearly every day. It takes more effort to engage, either face to face or over the phone. Email is the easy way out and always leads to a less complete outcome. What you put in = what you get out.

    I appreciate your work.
    Jim Shiminski
    DAC Sales

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s so true, Jim. You need to be very thoughtful about the medium you choose for important conversations. Thanks, Anthony.

  • Gina

    Great posts and a big fan of your blog. Today, emailing someone and not having that face to face interaction is much easier than a simple call. I have many friends who would much rather text, wait ten minutes or more for a response and still not call.

    At Badger Maps, many of the reps using our software are on the road and do in fact, have that face to face interaction but with less stress due to the softwares ability to sort where and when they should go according to what their location is and how much time they have to reach their next destination. We are making sales easy.

    I also saw your tweet about the Top Sales Awards currently going on. We are one of the nominees, alongside Hushly and PitchPerfect24.

    I hope we could talk more about your upcoming projects as well as how Badger works as a selling tool and how it is helping sales reps and sales managers work efficiently.