For 6000 years of recorded history, the cold-calling salesperson has arguably been the main driver of innovation. This is because he or she has often been the first to hear about a demand for a particular solution not yet invented and not yet even discussed.
For much of the above-mentioned 6000 years, the cold-calling salesperson chose targets wisely because he or she would often have to physically travel to the target (it is said that ancient salespeople used tavern message boards as the equivalent of Internet forums to spam on). Even the advent of the telephone only raised the number of realistic cold-calls per day from the single digits to the double digits.
It was not really until the advent of broadcast email capability that salespeople really became either 1) super effective or 2) super annoying. Today, as Basex has pointed out, Email Overload is one of the main problems corporations are going to want to fix.
Read this classic article from just before Christmas where Basex claims that information overload costs the US economy more than $900 Billion per year:
Now that we have established that email overload is killing us, one has to ask…are cold-emailing salespeople really the problem?
Let’s put this to the ultimate test:
On Friday I took a look at my personal laptop which takes emails sent to 5 different email addresses. Most of the email is forwarded to special folders via the Outlook Rules and Alerts function. Here is what I found in terms of constant “Incoming”:
1) My AOL addresses (downloaded in Outlook via POP3) get almost no spam because the AOL filters are really good these days. Once per week I have to go to AOL webmail to see if they designated good emails as spam. Thankfully they do not often make mistakes because I would rather get 10 spam emails then miss out on 1 good email (adjust your AOL spam filter to be relatively lenient).
Significantly, great email deliverability companies like the ISIPP (Institute for Social Internet Public Policy) and ReturnPath have helped to make honest corporations responsible in their email broadcasting behavior while true spammers have become easier and easier for ISPs to catch. I would say that the ISPs are being too strict: I would prefer that American ISPs not block entire IP ranges from parts of the world where plenty of great people live.
2) Twitter Notifications: The majority of my new emails, to any address, are Twitter notifications – technically Twimailer notifications because they arrive with an HTML page with the photo and follower information of a new follower. I never get Qwitter notifications because nobody seems to want to unfollow me on Twitter. 😉
I will browse Twitter Twimailer notifications quickly and I consider them valuable networking information for future email searches.
3) LinkedIn & Ecademy & Facebook notifications – none of it really spam except for the occasional unprofessional social networker like the one who just overloaded my Facebook message page with ads (if they had crossed over to my email inbox, I would have deleted that new “friend”).
4) Newsletters from Stratfor and a very few other news analysis sites. I don’t delete or unsubscribe from a newsletter if it has grandfathered itself into my life and comes no less than once per week and often has fascinating content I can read at a later date. I have tried to unsubscribe from a few newsletters that require a password to do that – a sneaky trick. I only accept corporate product newsletters from companies I work for or have worked for in the past.
5) While the occasional spam email (untargeted ad probably coming from a botnet) comes in and gets deleted in a half-second, personalized sales emails meant for me and me alone do not occupy much of my time. It is never spam to me if a salesperson is clearly pitching an idea to me specifically (or includes me in a rare broadcast of less than 200 people on a matter that is clearly of interest to me) .
And, as said above, email deliverability companies like the ISIPP and its SuretyMail service have helped make it second nature for people to request removal from email lists and for those requests to be granted.
Conclusion: Much of our Email Overload in 2009 is of our own making, meaning newsletters and social networking notifications. There is hardly an inbox problem coming from salespeople who specifically write to us as individuals on relevant matters. Here is some advice to cut down your email intake and processing time:
1) Use “Rules and Alerts” functionality to put certain types of email in certain types of folders. You should already have a Twitter and other Social Networking site notification folder. If you don’t and you are not automatically forwarding notifications there, you are your own worst enemy and you are costing your company time if you use work hours to drag and drop new notifications somewhere.
2) Unsubscribe from at least two newsletters that you now find interesting. You can go visit their website. Don’t waste your company’s time reading non-work related newsletters during work hours in any case.
3) Download and use the SenderOK add-on for Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo!Mail at www.SenderOK.com. SenderOK will analyze how often you’ve answered or deleted email from a specific sender. It will also judge whether you’ve recently been to the website of an incoming email from a new sender. It will then create a VIP and Important folder for you to see at a glance what is important and what Routine mails can be mass drag and dropped to a ToDo folder from the Inbox.
I hope this discussion has helped at least one of my readers battle Email Overload effectively.