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E-mail Management for Direct Sellers

I'm addicted to e-mail. I'm not afraid to admit that, but I'm not proud of it either. I check it way too often and it has the power to completely derail my day if I allow it to. The only consolation is that just about everyone I know shares my addiction (and lately you can also add Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to that addiction list, but that's a separate blog post).

 

I have tons of great direct sales training tools for managing my addiction, and when I apply them, I feel amazing and I'm productive as can be. So I thought I'd write a post and share some basic, easy-to-use tools to help you manage the volume of your e-mail and the time commitment you make to it. The key to these training tools will be for you to have the self-discipline to apply them (and I speak from experience). They’ll only work for you if you make the decision that you’re going to control your e-mail and not the other way around. And I'll just tell you up front, this post is a little long because I got on a roll, so you may have to save it and read it later. It's worth it though, so be sure you do that.

 

So, let’s start at the beginning – your e-mail program. You’re either using an online program (like Gmail or Yahoo Mail) to manage your business e-mail, or you’re using a desktop program like Outlook or Mail on the Mac. No matter what you’re choosing to use, the key is to become familiar with the management options of your program and to start to utilize them. I’d recommend that you take some time and just explore your program.

 

In Gmail and Yahoo mail, for example, in the upper right hand corner of the main mail page, there is a little sprocket that will open up your account setting options. That tab has simple to use tools for setting up a signature, a vacation response, and sorting your e-mails into separate folders as they arrive. If you’re using Outlook, go to the tools menu and click on options. Again, you’ll see several areas that allow you to customize Outlook to work for you. In Mac Mail, it’s the options menu. In both of these programs, you can create rules to presort incoming e-mails into separate folders which helps with your direct sales business. Just take some time and play around, try different functions and see how they work.

 

I recommend that you set up three main folders and then sub-folders within these three categories to automatically sort your e-mails when they arrive. If all your e-mails come into your main mailbox, it can feel overwhelming to open that box and try to sort out which ones to give your attention to first. If you have a set of folders and your e-mails are automatically sorted when they hit your system, you can go to the most important folders first and then work your way down to the least important. It will take you a little while to set up these folders (or create rules for each one), but once it’s done, it makes checking your e-mail more productive, faster, and easier because you can then choose which folder to look at first and prioritize how you’ll actually process through each folder.

 

Set up your three main folders using the “hot/warm/cold” concept (taken from my Get Organized and Take Back Your Life program and which I first learned from professional organizer Krista Clive-Smith).

 

Hot – These are the important e-mails that require your attention immediately. They are generally not “bulk” or generic e-mails, but a specific request or directive from a specific individual to you. These are also generally the e-mails that will be more income producing for your direct sales business. My hot zone includes e-mails from my business manager or our administrative assistant and e-mails from clients or joint venture partners.

 

Warm – These are e-mails that are of interest to what you’re doing now, often from your home office or direct sales resources that you need right away. These include newsletters and educational e-mails. For me, warm items are things like newsletters related to working or marketing my business, my Social Media folder (which signals me regarding social media activity), e-mails promoting educational calls in which I might be interested, and information about the online software that I use.

 

Cold – Cold e-mails are generally those I don’t even read before deleting. Things I can tell from the subject line I don’t need to read or “junk” mail that I mark as spam and delete. This zone can also include e-mails that you think you might be interested in in the future but don’t want to read right now. They would go into a folder for future reading.

 

Here are some examples of my sub-folders within each of the above categories:

  • Personal/Family
  • Customer Support
  • Social Media
  • Bills to Pay
  • For Follow-up
  • Future Ideas
  • Travel
  • Current Projects
  • Reading
  • Receipts
Using this system has supported me in shaving literally hours off of my e-mail commitment. It makes it easy to sort through what I want to read when and what is the best use of my time for e-mail.
 
Here are a few other tips for managing your e-mail habit:
  • Make sure the settings on your social media accounts are serving you. I’ll give you an example. When I first signed up for Twitter, I had alerts turned on for anyone who direct messaged or replied to a tweet. I was getting dozens of unnecessary e-mails each day that were simply cluttering up my inbox with information I didn’t need. So I went into Twitter and adjusted the settings so I no longer receive the notification. You can do the same thing with Face Book and LinkedIn. I do recommend leaving the LinkedIn alerts on, since activity in that account can be less frequent and it’s a good reminder to check it at least 2-3 times each week when you do get an alert.
     
  • If you have automatic e-mail checking and notifications turned on, DEACTIVATE THEM! These will pull you off track faster than anything else. You can be productive and working away and then your system informs you that you have an e-mail, you go and check it, and the next thing you know, it’s 45 minutes later and you haven’t completed the project upon which you were working. That’s how people get “overwhelmed” and behind.
     
  • Remove yourself from unnecessary lists. Many of my direct sales training clients have the option to join message boards and lists with other members of their companies. These can be a great resource, but they can also create stress with the volume of e-mails they generate and the amount of time they take to read. Many have the option to receive less frequent “digest” versions of the activity, with several e-mails on the same subject condensed into one digest version, so you still get the information but you don’t have to slog through ten e-mails to do it.
     
  • For some, opting completely out of one or more of these lists is what’s necessary. Even if you just need to suspend your membership for a little while until you get things “under control” I recommend that you do that. It will be worth it in the long run to get your e-mail box back to a manageable place and the information you’ll miss will still be there when you come back.
     
  • Don’t let your e-mail box become a junkpile, overflowing with garbage. I recommend that you clear out your Hot zone main box as completely as you can by the end of each day. That means reading each e-mail and either acting on it (if necessary) and deleting it, or moving it to a different folder for future action. Keeping items languishing in your e-mail box steals your energy because when you open it, you’re overwhelmed with what you haven’t done. Get it taken care of and get rid of it.
     
  • If you have a huge backlog of e-mails in your inbox (we had one client who had over 2000!), begin going through them once a day. Schedule a certain hour devoted to just doing this, and set a goal for yourself (clear at least 25 e-mails at a time, etc.). Most importantly, during this long term clearing out process, be sure you’re working hot/warm/cold system on any new e—mails you get so the problem won’t be repeated any more.
These are my best direct sales training tips for managing your e-mail habit. I can guarantee you, you can find hours in your day by applying these techniques and those hours can then be applied to your direct sales business and moving forward toward your goals. What are some of your best tips?
 
Ready for a fresh start in your direct sales business? Grab my "Direct Sales Starter Kit" to kick start your plan. It's yours for free when you subscribe to my mailing list. Already a member? My system won't add you twice, so go ahead and grab the starter kit anyhow. Click here to subscribe to my mailing list.


WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE FOR FREE IN PRINT OR ONLINE?

You may, as long as you do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate):

Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, keynote speaker, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.

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Not Back to School but Forward to What’s Next!

 

Valley-band

It's almost time for back to school. Depending upon the day, that's either a heartache or a relief for me. My oldest Sam took off for his second year at The University of Idaho last week and my "baby" Eli will be a junior at Walla Walla High School this year. He's been working at his first job this summer and will continue that into the school year while he balances AP classes and his role as the Snare Captain of the drum line for marching band. Both of my boys (that's them on the left) have expressed to me that they feel renewed, refreshed, and are hitting the ground running with a fresh start and some big goals for this year.

 

That got me thinking about this time of year for direct sellers and how important it is to make the same transition in your business that your kids are making as they head off to a new school year. Since September hasn't hit us yet, I'd like to invite you to take some time and answer the following questions about your direct sales business and where you're headed as we transition into the final 1/3 of the year: 

 

Here are some questions that will get you started:

  • What are your goals for the next four months?
  • How much income will you earn?
  • How many parties will it take to reach your goal?
  • How many new team members will you need to bring onto your team?
  • What will you commit to daily to reach your goal? Weekly? Monthly?
  • Finally, how will you feel once you hit it? (Really define this – it's probably the most important item on this list)

Just like the syllabi your kids are bringing home with outlines of assignments and project for the next semester in each class, this list will help you create your own syllabus for success in your direct sales business. I'd love to have you share your goals and action steps below.

 

Ready for a fresh start in your direct sales business? Grab my "Direct Sales Starter Kit" to kick start your plan. It's yours for free when you subscribe to my mailing list. Already a member? My system won't add you twice, so go ahead and grab the starter kit anyhow. Click here to subscribe to my mailing list.



WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE FOR FREE IN PRINT OR ONLINE? You may, as long as you do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate): Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.

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A Must-Do List for A Successful Fall Selling Season in Your Direct Sales Business

You've been hearing it for a few weeks now, like the theme song from "Jaws" playing in your head…Dah dum…dah dum… dahdumdahdumdahdum…getting faster and faster. The fall selling season for direct sellers is sneaking up on us and you better be ready! Take a deep breath. There's still time to get set up for success in your direct sales business before your kids head back to school and we head into the most busy season in our sales year.

 

Here's a must-do list that should help you get ahead of the game and be prepared to take advantage of all the momentum you can this fall:
 

  • Make a plan – This is the place to start if you're serious about your business. Take some time to sit down and create a plan so when September hits, you have a step-by-step vision and clear steps to take to get booked and build your business through the last four months of the year. Take an hour and set your goals for September through December. Click here to download my "Goal Setting Worksheet" taken from our "Powerful Tools for Your Direct Sales Business: Leader's Edition." It will help you make a strong plan.
     
  • Create a contact list of at least 50 people you haven't contacted recently – I guarantee, there are at least 50 people whom you could follow up with but haven't. Think about your customers, guests from your parties, previous hosts, and any other leads that may have fallen through the cracks. Make your goal to actually come up with 100 names and 50 will seem easy.
     
  • Throw your own celebration party – You have lots to celebrate this time of year in your direct sales business (and lots of awesome new products to share). Invite all of those people on your list of 50 and everyone else you can think of. Choose a fun theme and offer lots of great give-aways to compel people to want to attend.
     
  • Consider offering a virtual party - Virtual parties are all the rage right now and it's an easy way for you to share what's new and create a fun party without people having to leave their homes. You can learn 5 simple steps for hosting your own online party here
     
  • Give back - This is a great time of year to do fund raisers, which also generates greater interest in your business. You can make a difference while growing your business.
     
  • Make sure your customers know they can shop with you online – If you don't have an e-mail list with your customer's information, work on that now and then be sure you e-mail them at least once mid to late November with clear instructions about how they can "shop from their chair" with you on your website.

 

These are just a few of my "must do's." I'd love to know what you're focusing on now to ensure that your fall selling season results are out of this world. Please share below!

 

Ready for a fresh start in your direct sales business? Grab my "Direct Sales Starter Kit" to kick start your plan. It's yours for free when you subscribe to my mailing list. Already a member? My system won't add you twice, so go ahead and grab the starter kit anyhow. Click here to subscribe to my mailing list.



WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE FOR FREE IN PRINT OR ONLINE?

You may, as long as you do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate):

Julie Anne Jones is a direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read more blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.

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