Friday, July 23, 2010

When Ignoring Emails Becomes Profitable

The original email looks innocuous enough:

“I got your name from {your name here}. There is a spreadsheet that several people use to input data. The president wants to receive an email when the value in a cell is equal to a certain criteria.”

I replied with eight questions:

“Hi Jason, thanks for the email. Some questions:; 1 Is the email to be emitted every time the cell switches to a certain value? (a.k.a. "drive the president crazy by changing the value every 5 minutes"); 2 Is the value explicit to 15 digits accuracy or is it to be within a tolerance?; 3 Is there only once cell to be monitored, or a set of cells?; 4 Is the cell defined with a range name, or will you maintain and re-distribute the worksheet whenever the cell address changes?; 5 Does every user have Outlook installed as the default mail client, or are some users using Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora etc?; 6 Is the email to be issued the instant the user changes the cell value? How will you cope with people who turn OFF autosend in Outlook?; 7 Have you considered the option of logging the changes to disk and having the president (run a job on his schedule to) poll the saved log files?; The task will be written in Visual Basic for Applications(VBA). 8 Will every user have macros enabled?; I can probably dream up some more questions if you'd like.; There is no problem monitoring a cell and emitting an email; we would need tight specifications of when/how it is all to be triggered; I hope this helps.”

Nine Days Later

I have received no response, not even a “Thank you for taking the time to respond”.

Luckily for me I keep track of my time, and frequently examine time taken to perform simple tasks such as replying to an email like this like this.

Careful composition of a 260-word email as a first-time email to a potential client, spell-check and proof-read, takes fifteen minutes of my time.

Don’t pretend it doesn’t. You think it is 5 minutes, but it is much closer to 15 than 5. I know, because I’ve measured it.

I had BCC’d {your name here} on my reply, so’s they’d know that I had responded, and how I had responded and of course a few days later {your name here} emailed me back asking if I’d heard anything, so I responded to THAT email saying, in essence, “No”.

Bottom Line

20 minutes sucked out of my life. For what? For someone I’ve never met who can’t even say ‘Thank You”.

If they can’t say Thank You what makes me think they’ll be happy forking over money?

Where else can you spend time fruitlessly on a potential customer?

The Answer

Store Clerks do it all they time, but they are paid to stand behind a counter all day and smile as the customer approaches.

But I am not a store clerk. I do not stand behind a counter waiting for someone to swim into my view. I am a consultant with a business to run, and MY business is setting up meetings with CEO’s of large corporations.

The original email came from someone who thinks that I am a store-clerk. That is precisely the sort of person I can safely ignore.

And just in case you are thinking that times are tough (they are) and I’m strapped for cash (I am) and should leap at every opportunity – you’re wrong!

The path out of my hole lies in spending as much time as possible getting the word out to potential clients, not chatting with passers-by.

How Will You Throw Away Your Time Today?

Talk to Me !

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