Negotiating Over Email: A Cheatsheet for Entrepreneurs, Coaches and Consultants

Nov 18 2023

Negotiating Over Email: A Cheatsheet for Entrepreneurs, Coaches and Consultants

This should take: 4 minutes

This one is about fixing how you write emails.

Writing emails effectively can be make or break when you need to hunt to eat. I rewrite a lot of client's emails. It's still surprising the mistakes I find.

You often write because you want something. You want them to take action, reduce their price, improve their offer, accept your way of doing things.

Every. Single. Day.

Writing these kinds of email isn't about impressing anyone, it's about moving a person to action.

Most people fail to get a response because they are used to writing to get their point across. But negotiating with email requires strategy.

People want to use in an email because it seems less scary than negotiating in a conversation.

First, let's be real. Don't overuse email. Most negotiations are better done over the phone or zoom where you can adapt to the person.

Email requires just as much strategy or more than a conversation, because you can't quickly adjust and adapt to your audience.

Let's tackle some of the most common problems:

  • Avoid writing in a tone that distances you
  • Make sure they actually read the most important part
  • Leave them with a good impression.

Adjust your tone.

A good number of emails that I help my clients rewrite are way too formal. What's wrong with formal language? This is for work, you have to be professional, right?
Formal language is like a costume. It's not really you, it's your "business" cover that speaks like that.

We're trying to move people. That means they need to be talked to like you would talk to a person. If you're like me, you probably tend to skim over formal language because it feels impersonal. It doesn't feel like it was written to ME.

Of course, you can go too far. I don't want u to write like dis.
A good rule of thumb is just read the email out loud. Does it sound like something you might say?

Make 1 ask, or 2 questions.

This is important. If you are proposing something, make it just one thing and make it clear. If you are asking a question, limit it to two at most.

If you have more than one thing to ask for, email is likely not the right tool. Instead, you should have a meeting, and then follow up with email after you have agreement.

An email is a single action you are taking. In return you can expect a single action from your counterpart. Don't load them with five things to respond to.

Give a little context for how your ask is relevant to your counterpart. Edit this portion to make it as minimal as possible. This is different than writing why YOU want what you want. Take the time to see things from their perspective. Then write from that view.

Finally, make the ask. Put it on a separate line so if they are skimming, they still see it.

Don't be overly positive at the start. Save it for the end.

Often, an email that starts off with 2 to 4 sentences gushing about how great something is and how grateful you are is just not believable.

Instead, make your greeting super short, since it's going to be skimmed anyhow. Then be clear and upfront about what you are writing to them for. This doesn't have to be where you make an ask, but you do need to tell them the WHY of the email. Why should this matter to them?

Instead of:

"It was so great to meet you. I really enjoyed being able to discuss your work at company X. It was interesting to hear about.... blah blah blah."

Try this:

"I'm glad we got to connect today. I wanted to follow up on two of the points we discussed: timing for our work together, and to further answer your question about onboarding."

Then, if you want to show your gratitude, put it at the end of the email before you sign off. Be specific about what you are appreciating.

Make it short.

We all know this because we all hate long emails. I hope you like the irony of me saving this tip for last. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Usually sending a longer email usually happens because we haven't put the time and attention in to make it short.

Aim for 5-7 lines max and less if you can. Remember that text appears much longer if it's looked at on a phone where your counterpart is also likely in the middle of other things.

Remember: Email and text communication is a huge part of our work lives and there's a large variance at how effective you can be at it. Take one of these at a time, and ask yourself how you are doing when you're writing.

See you next week.

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