Are your crappy email replies killing your business?

There’s a frustrating trend nowadays whereby people can’t be bothered to give a decent reply to sales enquiries, don’t bother to answer the questions asked, and don’t use punctuation. This is nothing new, but it seems to be getting worse.

This has happened to me numerous times recently. Here’s a couple of examples, literally from the last week:

I emailed an events company with two specific questions about show sponsorship, and received this reply:

“Yes. But next show is September “

That was it. I sent a clear email asking two questions, and that was the reply I received. He ignored the second question, and gave a confusing answer to the first.

How likely am I to reply to this person and spend money with them? Unlikely. In fact, it simply isn’t going to happen. I would have to ignore his unprofessional rushed reply, and actually chase him to clarify his answer to my first question, and ask him to answer my second question.

He had no idea who was enquiring either — I could have been a huge potential new client for him.

It’s also worth pointing out that I had to ask the questions in the first place because the website and sales literature was unclear. (Tip — if you can’t write good copy, hire someone who can).

So what should the reply have looked like? How about:

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

Hi Terry,

Firstly, thanks for enquiring about sponsorship at our show.

Sadly, yes you are too late this time, however we would love to have you on board in the future. There is another show in September — is that of interest?

By the way, if you’re coming to this month’s event please pop over to the ‘organisers office’ and say hello — I’d love to buy you a coffee and have a chat about your business and how we can help.

Many thanks again and all the best.


Sig file: Company

Contact details.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

There was no chance of anything like that… he was far too busy rushing about to spend time emailing people properly! Punctuation!? Why he’s not had time for that in years!

Here’s another example:

I sent an email to a holiday apartment owner. I asked two basic questions — whether the apartment has Wifi, and the price. I received this reply:

“Yes it has WiFi Lizzie

Sent from my hudl“

As is often the case with these type of replies, only one question was answered. So it would be down to me to chase and ask the second question again. Quite often it can be worse than that… you get a reply back that either evades your question(s), or answers something you didn’t even ask.

Also, did this person give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the holiday apartment, enticing me to give her my hard earned cash and book with her? Nope. If a sales enquiry gets a reply like that, do they deserve the booking? What will the standard of the apartment be when we get there? What will the customer service be like if there is a problem with the apartment when we’re staying there?

There wasn’t a hint of her trying to close the sale either, and that’s commercial suicide. I’m not talking about her coming back with some sales nonsense — I’m talking about her simply asking whether I want to make a booking! (Same goes for the first example I gave too).

So again, what should a proper reply have looked like? How about:

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

Hi Terry,

Firstly, thanks for enquiring about staying in our apartment. We would love you to spend your holiday here — it’s a gorgeous location and the apartment is beautifully appointed, with fabulous views.

Yes we do have Wifi. I’ve just realised it’s not mentioned on the website — I’ll make sure the site is updated.

The price for the apartment is xxxx. That includes a welcome pack of homemade bread, cookies and fresh milk. If you are happy to go ahead and want to book today, I’ll make sure there is a nice bottle of wine waiting for you upon your arrival too. How does that sound?

Would you like to proceed with the booking?

Many thanks again, and hope to see you soon.


— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

No, no! That was way too much trouble. Her reply gave the impression she was sat hoovering crisps off her belly whilst watching something on TV…, and I was a real pain in the butt for disturbing her.

The lazy email response trend seems to involve:

  • Not reading the enquiry properly.
  • Not answering the questions asked.
  • Not using punctuation.
  • Not saying “Hi XXXXX”
  • Not thanking the person for considering their business.
  • Not signing off with their name — instead simply relying on a signature file.
  • Typically the website is lacking — prompting the questions in the first place.
  • Giving the impression they don’t care about your enquiry — they just want your money, and quick so they can get back to flapping about being a busy fool, or watching TV.

My response to these email replies? Well I’m not going to give them my money in a million years. Clearly many people feel the same. Lousy customer service costs businesses billions each year… yes you read that right — billions every year — and it’s on the increase.

Along with these email replies being unprofessional, discourteous, rude, and irritating, they say something else about the business in question too… that the poor level of detail, service, and care will run throughout the rest of their business and products/service.

If the company is really bad before you give them your money, how bad will they be once they have your cash?! You guessed it — rubbish. If they can’t be bothered to reply to a potential new client properly, then they probably can’t be bothered to manage and run the other aspects of their business properly either. They certainly won’t be able to be bothered providing decent customer service and aftercare.

This is especially true if the person who could not be bothered emailing you properly is the founder/owner/MD/CEO of the business. If they work by themselves then it is highly likely that they run other aspects of their business in the same way. If they have a team, then it’s likely that the bad habits will run through the company because typically the founder/owner/MD/CEO creates the company’s culture.

Think about it. If you go into a coffee shop and have to wait ten minutes for the serving person to be bothered to drag themself away from facebook and saunter over to serve you, how likely is it that they will then plod back and suddenly transform into a passionate barista who deftly crafts you the best artisan coffee you’ve ever had?

Typical excuses for these email replies include:

  • “Oh I’m just a [whatever-their-job-is], I’m not good at dealing with people…”. If that’s the case, hire someone else to deal with your customers in a courteous and proper manner. You don’t need to employ someone either — you can outsource it.
  • “I can’t be bothered with all these annoying enquiries!” Well then sort out your website and sales literature so that people don’t have to ask questions all the time, or quit your businesses. I’d probably recommend the latter.
  • “I’m too busy to email properly, so it’s better to fire back something rather than nothing!!”. Sorry. You’re wrong.

There are no excuses. If you send email replies like that it’s because you can’t be bothered, you’re not interested, and/or you are way too self-important.

Here are some things to make sure you do when replying to sales queries:

  1. Start your reply email properly with “Hi …..“ or, “Dear.….”
  2. Thank the potential client for their enquiry.
  3. Read their email properly. If you’re too busy find time later.
  4. Answer all the questions they answer properly.
  5. End the email properly with your name. Don’t leave it to your signature file to sign off for you.
  6. If you are too busy to reply properly for a day or so then send back a quick courteous reply telling the potential client, and reply properly later.
  7. Write good website copy, or hire someone to do it for you. The better your website and sales literature the less people will have to email you in the first place.
  8. Have some template emails that you can send when needed. Note — don’t make these full of sales garbage, business speak, and jargon — write something genuine that actually means something.

There are lots of other things too I’m sure — these are simply the points that come to mind right now.

It’s important to note, that replies don’t have to be formal either. Be yourself! There is nothing wrong with replying “Hey, cheers for your email! Great to hear from you…” if that’s appropriate. The important thing is to reply properly.

In the examples above I was a massively hot lead. I went to them, and asked about giving them my money, but they not only let the potential sale go, they lost any potential repeat business from me too, along with any hope of recommendations.

To be honest, I actually can’t believe I’ve had to write about this. This is really basic stuff. There are good reasons why 90%+ of businesses fail. How you reply to your sales enquiries is one of them.