Have you ever written an email asking someone for access to certain data or requesting that they do something but they never respond? You then call them and leave a message and still no response. Then the frustration begins to grow or maybe you start getting angry? Why don’t people listen to you? My guess is you are committing one of the four common email mistakes. As a business analytics coach, I want to share with you my proven methods on how to write a powerful email that gets rapid results.
There may be a number of reasons someone is not responding to your email request, but over the years I have learned there are four common email mistakes people make. By avoiding these email mistakes, your emails can become a persuasive and powerful email.
Let’s take an example of Bob needing access to a particular set of data. Bob sends an email to the IT person he thinks can set him up with access.
"John, please give me access to the XYZ data base for my project. I need it ASAP. Thanks...Bob"
As a result of this email, would you give access if you were the IT person in charge of granting access to data?
Things that were wrong with Bob's email...
He commanded and didn’t ask - The request sounds like a command. You don’t work for Bob. He’s just putting more work on your plate.
He didn’t really explain why access was needed - He never explained what project he’s working on. It’s your job to protect the data and without more explanation, you can’t just give him access.
He didn’t let you use your brain - The tone of his email may come across as superior as if he knows more about the data than you do. Maybe that same data is actually stored in a different data base that is indexed and optimized.
He didn’t leave the door open for you to correct him – The IT person may be hesitant to try to correct or make a better suggestion for acquiring access to the data.
For more common email mistakes, we suggest looking at the “12 Common Work Email Mistakes” from U.S. News & World Report.
A number of years ago, I realized my emails were a little too direct and I was not getting results. After analyzing the situation, I needed to write more persuasive emails. I realized by using a powerful email framework, it could increase my results, hence avoiding the common email mistakes. Every time I write an email asking for someone to take action, I'm now using this framework. It's actually a deviation of a writing technique learned in law school. I call it "IWAS".
What is the IWAS framework?
Issue or problem with deadline – Frame the challenge
Why is it important? What’s the benefit the organization will realize if the challenge is solved?
Analysis - Define or analyze the request/issue/etc.
Solution with an opening for other ideas.
What if you received this email instead?
“I know you’re very busy but I am hoping you could help me solve a challenge. Ken (the CFO) wants a dashboard that includes sales data so he has a better pulse of the business throughout the month. I am tasked with designing and building the dashboard which Ken says will help increase sales by being more responsive to changes. He wants this dashboard completed by the end of the month. I have mapped out the dashboard Ken wants. However, to accomplish it, I need access to sales information on a daily basis that will show information by sales rep, customer, location and product category. I believe this is stored in the XYZ database, but I don’t currently have access to the data. Could you please let me know what I need or who I need to talk to in order to get access to this data? If there’s a better place to get this data, just let me know. You are much more knowledgeable about where the data is and I appreciate your help in advance.”
Do you see how this is a more powerful email and more likely to get results?
How this email DOES fit the IWAS format...
Issue - It states that access to data is needed to complete a dashboard project due at the end of the month.
Why - It clearly states the CFO, a person of authority, wants a dashboard to increase sales.
Analysis – It states requirements have been done and defines what data is needed along with where he thinks the data resides.
Solution – It requests access to the data but leaves the door open for a better solution.
Also noteworthy to writing a powerful email that gets rapid results is that flattery never hurts. In the above example, he stated how knowledgeable the recipient is.
For more tips on writing persuasive emails, check out Alexis Rodrigo's blog entitled "The 4-Step Formula for More Persuasive Emails" which contains some great tips as well.
The IWAS framework really does work! It avoids the common email mistakes and gets results. In teaching one client this method, he immediately got access to a system he was waiting months to get into.
For more software agnostic tips & tricks...
If you would like to learn more about this, we have created a video on this topic which is part of our free members only Analytics Coaching Club. To join, all you have to do is CLICK THIS LINK. Provide your name, email, and create a password. Once you join the club, you'll get immediate access to our library of education videos. You'll find the IWAS video under Professional High Performance Techniques.
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