As your business starts to build, responding to email inquiries can become a problem. There are just so many of them! You might think this is a good thing, and to an extent it is because emails are part of client attraction. But you need to learn how to efficiently handle, sort, and respond to numerous emails.
Now, some emails are inquiries from prospects who are seriously interested in working with you. Others are tire kickers or are asking for free advice. At some point, you won’t have time to answer them all on your own. Remember, there are only two types of activity you want to spend your time on when building your business:
- Working with clients and providing your service
- Marketing your service to fill your pipeline and get clients
This is why answering emails can be an incredible time drain. I experienced the problem myself as my business started to take off. After a while, I figured out that I needed to maintain strong boundaries to guard against situations that can take up loads of time, but don’t fall under the two essential categories above.
Here’s what I did to handle email inquiries, which can work for you too:
1. Stop answering emails to your personal address. This is a very big first step and a powerful one, although I’ll admit it’s not an easy step to take. I had to let go of answering all emails that came into my business email account.
I passed this task along to my virtual assistant so she could sort through them and forward the ones requiring my attention. The others she responded to herself. We worked out a system so she knew how I wanted different questions answered. This eliminated a ton of busy work for me and freed me to focus on more marketing and money-making activities.
2. Stop giving away free advice. Establishing boundaries is not only a smart business practice, but a valuable skill for life in general. If you let them, people will take advantage of you – not necessarily because they mean any harm. People are curious, have a genuine need and or don’t necessarily realize the impact of a request.
When requests for free advice got to be overwhelming, I came up with a response that educated people about their interactions with me. You can say, “The answer to your question depends on many variables. It’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of answer. If you are interested in working with me, I would be happy to explore that with you, create a strategy and help you determine which method could work best for you.”
A lot of the people who email will not be ready to work with you, which is to be expected. Some people will be upset with you. Just state your boundaries in a yummy way that is warm and positive, but firm, to safeguard your time available for client attraction.
Which emails tend to waste your time? Figure out your standard answer and save it as a word document. You can even cut and paste your response if you aren’t ready yet to hand your email off to a VA.