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Point. Click. Delete.



I have a guilty confession.  Each day I delete nearly half of my emails without reading them.  That’s right. Point. Click. Delete. I consider it operational efficiency.  The problem is, as quick as I can delete the little blighters, there are more of them… in Gremlins.  Remember that?

Some of them come from you guys. Some of them come from people I know in my real life. But nonetheless, they get the same treatment. Point. Click. Delete. Operational efficiency AND natural selection.  Haven’t heard back from me? You just didn’t make the cut.

Ok, so I’m not that anti-social.  I’m talking about unsolicited emails, spam, begging letters, whatever you want to call them. I was discussing this with an advertising agency the other day who were seeking my advice about pitching the services of a third-party to HR Directors.  When he asked me what I thought about email, I sighed.

The truth is that on anyone day I get upward of 40 emails from would be suppliers/consultants or newsletters.  And all of them go directly into the bin.  I’ve not signed up for them directly, I’m assuming that they’ve bought my details from a database.  I don’t read them and even when I do they tend to get my name or company name wrong. So why the hell would I give them my business?

I appreciate that it is a tough market out there, but the numbers game is not the way to play it.  If you want to work with me, then you need to connect with me. You need to understand me and you need to treat me as a partner not a target, even before you have my business.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/09/2010 10:13

    Hahah! In my head I now have a vision of you just selecting the first 50% of your emails and deleting them regardless of who they are from!

    Seriously though, I used to do this, but now I am brutal with unsubscribing to, well, pretty much everything. I don’t know how I even get on half these friggin’ mailing lists! It makes me feel better though cos I have to delete less. And unsubscribing takes all of 2 seconds longer than deleting usually too, so it’s all good.

  2. 12/09/2010 10:24

    Couldn’t agree more – and as an editor in the HR press I receive hundreds of emails a day. Like you I delete the vast majority without opening. Yesterday alone I deleted 400! I have a job to do – if you are emailing me a ‘story’ then it is obviously not that important! And please don’t call me to see if I have received the email – unless the world wide web has collapsed I would have got it. And as thehrd says, if you haven’t heard back it ain’t happening.

    • 12/09/2010 13:56

      Gotta smile at some of these responses, especially at Robjones_tring’s.
      In fact it inspired an idea – I think I’ll use carrier pigeon to contact Sian Harrington in the future 😉

  3. Sarah Knight permalink
    12/09/2010 10:26

    I feel your pain.
    I often get people who call my company and ask to speak to Sarah West…..its get any potential supplier off to a really bad start. Research me and my company and speak to me properly about an offering that could benefit me…..or don’t bother….

  4. Alana Inness permalink
    12/09/2010 10:35

    Gave me the vision of that urban legend about the MD who dumped half of all the CVs he received in the bin stating “those people are unlucky, and I don’t want anyone unlucky working for me”.

    On a serious note I often do the same, I do try to unsubscribe too though to save me on future delete time. I get all sorts of daily news though that I’d love to have time to read but often don’t get time so these often go the same way.

    As one of those evil suppliers/consultants (go on, “boo!” and “hiss!” in a pantomime style), I would be really interested in your views of the best ways to properly “connect”. Obviously the market is tough so we working even harder at this than we always have done but my own experience is that finding opportunities to really engage with “internals” is tough, getting the first meeting or introduction can be tricky. We can often be excluded from events for internal movers and shakers for fear of being “sold to”. I understand this as although we like to get know people rather than meeting job titles other suppliers are perhaps more focussed on just getting the sale. So for this reason we have (along with other ways) been trying a few emails to see how it’s received. Be interested to hear how you personally like to get to know new people, be they suppliers or otherwise, to see if we could learn something.

    • Doug Shaw permalink
      12/09/2010 11:18

      for what it is worth…..I find patience, being yourself and taking a genuine interest in what folk are doing can all be quite helpful. And I do mean genuine. Don’t fake it – if it ain’t happening just leave it. That’s how I approach stuff. If you want to call that stuff work then fine but authenticity means you can call it what you like.

      • Alana Inness permalink
        12/09/2010 11:37

        Couldn’t agree more. People always ask me how I remember all the personal stuff about my “clients”, it’s because I am genuinely interested in them as people not just as sales! I always find it strange that in an industry that is all about the people element of business many suppliers I come into contact with forget that they are working with other human beings!

  5. 12/09/2010 10:58

    Feel happy with your 40 emails daily dose. On a recent seminar I attended about time management it was stated that a typical manager, on a multinational company, receives an average of 300-350 emails x day.

    Deleting without reading at least 30% of them. Any subject not clearly stating the topic (meaning that would affect your daily job tasks) is deleted, including of course all FYI’s, Fwd’s and CC’s.

    The rule was: “If you want to connect with me for a mutually important issue, ring me.”

  6. Doug Shaw permalink
    12/09/2010 11:23

    I had the misfortune of finding myself in association with someone playing the numbers game earlier this year. This person plays the game and makes money from it. And gets almost no repeat business. Just churns through people like Henry the Eighth scoffing chickens at a banquet. I learned a lot from this thoroughly unpleasant character, in a funny way I’m grateful we met relatively early on in the life of my company. I learned that the numbers game is for soulless gutless shitbags.

  7. Robjones_tring permalink
    12/09/2010 11:51

    I wasn’t going to comment because people have said what I would have… but having read some of the comments I was inspired (well killing time whilst on hold) to unsubscribe from a few unsolicited e-mails and my favourite thing happened…. an e-mail confirming my unsubscribe and asking me to complete a survey as to why i’d removed my name. FFS – PIGEONS LEARN QUICKER THAN SOME PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. 12/09/2010 14:09

    I am the same way. My work email I do a better job of filtering and keeping anyone from emailing me unless it is necessary for business. My personal email tends to fill up.

    But I think that many of us can look at a subject and find how needed the message actually is.
    Deletion is karma back on the sender lol 🙂

  9. The Engaging Engager permalink
    12/09/2010 14:54

    Please Note:

    ~ This user is using a qualitative filter to review their emails. Your email has been scanned, rated and deleted on the basis of the quality benchmark applied to the submission history from this sender~

  10. 12/09/2010 15:01

    I take it quite personally when I get a message from Outlook “Your email was deleted without being opened”.

    I wrote this response to another blog just yesterday – I think it’s relevant.

    Trust relevance and credibility. For me, allowing direct communications access to me is all about those three things.

    In ways that were never considered before, individuals now have to manage the degree of access they grant to, or will tolerate from, anyone else, be it other people, or more especially corporate enterprises marketing to them. It’s not so long ago that we would accept every single phone call, as it must be important, then the fax, then the email, texts, MMS, IM’s, DM’s, FB messages, and then back to calls on your mobile (caller-ID screened of course). How about Facetime on the iPhone? Would you accept a sales call via Facetime, even just for the novelty factor?

    Our primary trusted comms route has been a moveable feast by necessity, while they pursue us, and we run away as fast as possible. We need to know that this open line won’t be abused, because we will read, answer and respond to every missive. We really don’t want to be taken advantage of.

    Everyone accepts now that their inbox is inevitably going to fill with spam of all sorts. Savvy individuals have a “friends only” priority email address too. Because most social media aggressively encourages networking beyond our immediate trust circle, it has become devalued. Twitter, Linkedin and now Facebook are becoming infected. Need we really setup more than one account with each, according to the level of privilege we want to grant?

    Trust, relevance and credibility. Tick these three boxes, and I’ll keep opening your emails.

  11. 12/09/2010 20:10

    I feel really sorry for you busy people, if you are deleting mail from people you know or people who contacted you for some reason or another just because you can’t be bothered to look at it, is quite sad really. Why not get your secretary to vet your mail for you, passing on anything that is actually pertinent and that way you won’t miss the invitation to great Aunt Mary’s 90th birthday party or an old client’s wedding.

    Perhaps I am lucky, living in a beautiful county, surrounded by green fields, big skies and lovely beaches, I actually have time for my friends and find that life is for living, not deleting.

    Make the most of this life, it isn’t a practice.


    • Corporate Daycare permalink
      12/10/2010 19:12

      “Get your secretary to vet your mail”…that would be awesome. If I had a secretary.

      And I think the point was that the deleting was for unsolicited “spam-y” emails so that you could stop wasting your time and focus on the important things, both emails and people.

  12. Corporate Daycare permalink
    12/10/2010 19:05

    I don’t think you should feel that this is a guilty confession. First of all, almost all of us do it

    What some people fail to remember is that in most cases you are not obligated to read their email. However, perhaps this idea has been perpetuated by those people that are physically incapable of not reading and responding to their email 24/7.

    I liken it to weeding the garden.

  13. L&D Manager permalink
    12/10/2010 21:15

    Yup, ditto. Email cold calls are the same as phone cold calls. Due to volume of work and the fact that I do need to connect in different ways, cold calling/emailing, doesn’t work for me.

    I agree with all who’ve talked about authenticity. Obviously, the people emailing/phoning/direct mailing may will be amazing and highly authentic, skilled etc. But I think almost every supplier I work with are people I’ve sought out or somehow bumped into – because I read and admired their reports, blogs, books, Twitter presence, conference presentations…etc. I’m interested in what they’ve got to say. And when I do get to talk to them, here’s what matters to me: authenticity, transparency, proper know-how, the chance to do exciting work together, to learn something from each other, the ability to be really flexible, and just being plain fun and good to get on with and a good fit,…these are the things that matter.

    Maybe that isn’t ‘fair’ because there are tons of other amazing folk out there. But that’s whats workable and pragmatic and I’m thrilled with the suppliers that we do work with.

    But for the people who send me quarterly newsletters on tired management techniques, and the ones who misspell my name, and the ones who phone and ask me to explain what our ‘training plan for the year’ is [and get ratty when I don’t]….. no, no, and NO…This just isn’t the world that I inhabit. The private sector world and L&D for me is absolutely not about a world in which we make a static set of business plans, annually, from which we then make a static set of ‘training course requirements’ for the year ahead. It SO doesn’t work like that. I could write another 1000 words about why it’s not like that and how it is absolutely wonderful that it isn’t like that. But I guess that maybe, one day, I should write my own blog and explain it.

    (And, no, Mr Norfolk, I don’t have a secretary. What’s a secretary?)

  14. BettyBBlonde permalink
    12/10/2010 23:20

    I don’t know if it counts but my latest pet hate is receiving emails saying ” Rupert McTwat wants to connect on Linked in. Rupert McTwat has indicated that you are someone they have done business with at……”

    Done business with?? Since when is avoiding Mr McTwat’s cold calls and recycling his environment-destroying mailshots doing business with????


    Point. Click. Delete. Don’t bloody lie. You’ve lost before you’ve even started.

  15. 12/11/2010 18:31

    I see the confusion, the first poster said that he just goes through and deletes any emails that he doesn’t want to read, even if they are from people he knows, some of you are just talking about spam. I agree wholeheartedly about spam, it should be filtered out and deleted as most of them are obvious from their titles and sender’s names. What I am talking about, are the emails that I get from people who just might be my next customer, who knows who could be my next customer if I treat them with respect?

    I just got an email from someone who put “Hi” in the subject and his name was unknown to me. I opened it and he was asking for me to carry out a load of research for him. If I just deleted everything that looked like spam, I would loose customers.

    I apologise that I thought you all had secretaries, I would have thought that most one-man bands would check all emails for the same reasons I do.


  16. 12/14/2010 08:39

    @Wendy Jacob – But somehow it doesn’t seem to matter how many I unsubscribe from, others just appear! I tell you….Gremlins! 🙂 (PS. I didn’t put an S on the end of your name!)

    @Sian Harrington – Hey there, thanks for commenting! Angry journo head on…..I like! 🙂

    @Kay Phelps – Good thing is you can eat them afterwards too!

    @Sarah Knight – I have to admit….in the early days of knowing you, that one really confused me too! 🙂

    @Alana Innes @Doug Shaw Sorry for the joint response…I see it as a BOGOF. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. But worst are the ones that pretend to be personal but you know are mass mails, “Hi HRD, I know you’re a busy person and you probably get a lot of emails like this……” Yes, yes and goodbye!

    @Delfin Vassallo – Welcome and thanks for commenting. The 40 are just the spam ones….it doesn’t include the other business related ones! Ahh the phone….I remember that…great invention! 🙂

    @Doug Shaw – *applause*

    @Robjones_tring – Have you noticed how hard some companies are making it to unsuibscribe too? Or “it may take several days to unsubscribe” meaning….we’ve got a hold load of spam heading your way!

    @Benjamin McCall – Thanks for commenting and sorry for the confusion (you know what I mean!) Deletion is karma back on the sender! Haha love it!

    @ The Engaging Engineer – Love it!

    @Stephen O’Donnell – You can read in a preview pane without the message showing as being opened. And the delete it. You shouldn’t presume they haven’t been read.

    @norfolk-tours – Can we swap lives? Go on….you know you want to!

    @Corporate Daycare – You don’t have a secretary? Pffff…. Seriously, I agree and take the same route with snail mail. If it is garbage I don’t open it.

    @L&D Manager – Thanks for commenting (at last! :)) Yeah I love that technique…”I wonder whether you have a few minutes to talk me through your plans for the coming year” so you can tell me how wonderfully you can support it right?

    @BettyBBlonde – Yes I’ve noticed an increase in that……spam via Linkedin….is nowhere sacred?!?

  17. 12/14/2010 10:38

    No way mate, I wouldn’t swap my life for anything!

    Come to Norfolk and see for yourself!


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