How to quit email … in the real world

So how do you speak with clients, connect with teams and communicate with everyone directly from your electronic device if you don’t use email?


I was the speaker at a sales conference in Joberg last week, a speech that focuses the listener on how to make time to meet more clients and close more deals. It was only in the ensuing Q&A session that the topic of quitting mail emerged. “So how do I get my team to quit email and actually still generate sales?” As I started talking through the options that they as a team could start exploring, in came the barrage of negative statements as to why this couldn’t work and yet the frustration they all felt due to an overflowing inbox was overly apparent. ‘Mail robs us of our time, focus and information, hinders collaboration, causes bottle necks in delivery and breaks down teams through stifled conversation.’ To name a few. Everyone in that room knew that their business and lives would be better in every way if they employed change but … how?

So what are your options in the real world, how do you speak with clients, connect with teams and communicate (I use the term lightly) with everyone and their dog, quick as a flash, directly from your electronic devise from just about anywhere, anytime if you don’t use email?

Simply put you have some options. The one that works best for you will be dependant on you, your circumstances, your team and your company. With email taking up a whopping 28% of our workday, whichever option you choose, you’ll already be making a massive contribution to your self, your sanity and very very likely, your companies bottom line.

  1. Work smarter with your existing mail:

This is certainly the easiest place for any team to start in my opinion. The path of least resistance is to work smarter with mail, minimise the spiral and take back your time. It’s not rocket science but more so the tiny things that result in meaningful change.

A few things to consider:

  • Don’t check email first thing in the morning, nor constantly throughout your day, unless it’s your highest value highest reward task in which case that’s fine, except it’s unlikely that it is!
  • Use meaningful subject lines with a specific call to action and deadline if appropriate. “Call Peter re outstanding invoice by 12h00 Friday” is better likely to get you a favourable response on time vs. “outstanding invoice”.
  • Sending less mail to receive less mail sounds silly even to type it, but thanks to a cover-your-own-arse culture existing in many teams, it’s common practice to cc everyone on pretty much everything. Instead consider picking up the phone or getting up to walk 5 steps to your left to speak to Suzie sitting at the next desk might just be a better way of getting the response you need.

2. Banish mail for internal comms only:

Okay so I’d suggest you practice point 1 above regardless the option you choose, but if you aren’t quite ready for point 3, shutting down email as a primary communication platform internally department by department is a really solid solution. See this as a phase in where you are shifting communication from the ‘me’ to ‘we’ and hence opening up opportunity for collaboration and transparency … the very thing that email robs us of and the secret sauce of sustainable thriving businesses.

Getting this right is a phased in process. We know your team is busy and changing systems right now might cause some resistance so it needs to be done smartly and as seamlessly as possible. In our experience telling your team on Monday that this is the new way (or there is the highway) is likely not a smart move. You need to offer the alternatives, collaborative platforms such as wrike.com, teamwork.com & huddle.com could be the answers you are looking for. These need to be setup properly to prevent confusion and your team might require rudimentary training but that’s fiddlestix compared to the benefit you’ll experience longer term. Think more time, results driven, transparent teams that learn through working outside of their inbox to build into their team and your company. See it as an asset.

3. Go cold turkey:

Before you take the all-or-nothing approach you need to ensure you have a couple of strong systems in place. What are you going to use as your company’s primary communication management system and that might well go beyond the bounds of an effective collaborative platform as mentioned in point 2. How will you communicate effortlessly with your team and customer, consider including LinkedIn, Twitter and Whatsapp as part of your strategy. Then send out an email, your very last one before closing down your email system for good, letting everyone know how, when and where to get hold of you.

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