Email productivity tips for sales professionals

For sales and marketing pros, email is both an important tool as well as a distraction. While it is one of the best and most preferred ways of communicating with leads and prospects, email is also a time suck due to overload.

So how can you use email for productivity? Here are five ideas you should try.

1. Don’t send too many emails.

This one’s pretty intuitive: Sending many emails will lead to a full inbox. That’s because if you send many emails, you’ll also receive many replies—adding to the volume of emails you have to go through every day.

Avoid sending emails if you could. Consider using chat services (many, like Google Hangouts and Skype, are free) or better yet, if you need to talk to a colleague, consider a call or a quick face-to-face chat.

2. Turn off most of your notifications. 

Notifications are only useful if they don’t overwhelm your inbox. They’re only helpful if they’re actionable—if you can do something about them.

On Twitter, for instance, I don’t have email notifications for @ mentions anymore since I spend a lot of time on that network anyway. I also noticed that most people who mention me on Twitter aren’t necessarily waiting for a response. Often, they’re simply sharing a blog post or an article I wrote. That said, I do have email notifications for direct messages since those are less frequent and people usually DM because they need a response from me.

If your company is using a project management tool like Basecamp or an internal communications tool, be sure to adjust your notifications so you’re only getting the ones that you absolutely have to.

3. Unsubscribe to email newsletters.

Take the time to look at the newsletters you receive on a regular basis and ask yourself, “when was the last time I gained value from these?” Be brutal. Just because a piece of content is interesting doesn’t mean it can help you sell more.

Also, look out for newsletter frequency. My personal rule is that anything more than once a week is too frequent. Most publications and blogs have a subscription center that allows you to control how often they communicate with you, so be sure to check it out and adjust accordingly.

4. Don’t CC or BCC people…unless you have to. 

I’m sorry to say this, but not everything you do is interesting to your teammates. It’s important to be mindful about copying people on emails. CC or BCC people only if they absolutely must know something.

Use this rule of thumb:

  • Use “TO when you’re expecting a response from someone.
  • Use “CC” when you’re only copying someone but you want him or her to continue to be included in the thread.
  • Use “BCC” if you’re copying someone and you don’t want him or her to be included in the rest of the thread

Overcommunication is just as bad as under-communication. Respect people’s inbox and don’t copy people if an action or a response is not required from them. This helps your colleagues avoid email overload. It also reduces the number of emails you receive since you’re be getting fewer replies from long email threads.

5. Avoid sending huge files.

When you send files that are pretty big (say, anything more than 500 MB), you are increasing the chances of not getting a response. Most people who are viewing emails on mobile will be very hesitant to open big files. Not to mention that sending big files could clog the inboxes of your prospects.

Consider sending your files through the cloud—for instance, through Google DriveDropbox or Orangedox. That way, you can just grab the link and send that to your leads and prospects. Some of these tools even give you engagement analytics—helping you gauge whether a follow-up email to your prospect is required.


As a sales pro, you need to make sure that you use email efficiently. Keeping your inbox free of clutter should be a good start.

Did I miss any email productivity tips in this post? Please let me know in the comments.