Enhancing Email as a Sales Tool

By Niraj

For a tool as heavily used and as ubiquitous, Email’s true power is rarely exploited by users. While many of us spend a lot of time each day going through our inboxes, searching, sending messages, and replying back, we barely even scratch the surface of what Email can do.

One business function that can really make use of Email’s capabilities is sales. Using canned responses, templates, and Email open tracking, you can easily automate and streamline your sales process, increasing your productivity.


Sales personnel usually make heavy use of Email, usually for work that doesn’t really require personal attention. At the same time, you can’t put off replying to your clients’ mails. What you can do, instead, is to reduce this effort by using canned responses and Email templates. These are particularly useful for some people – sales and marketing teams, tech support staff, HR managers, and even for people looking out for a job change. In a nutshell, if you find yourself sending out several sets of similar Emails every day, canned responses might help you cut down on the time you spend dealing with what are pretty much no-brainer tasks, leaving you free to focus on what really needs to be done. Some common uses for canned responses and Email templates are:

  • Responding to price list requests
  • Sending acknowledgements
  • Thanking customers and contacting clients
  • Sending support material in response to keywords in the incoming mail
  • Sending contract paperwork to new clients

For businesses using Google Apps or GMail, the in-built canned response tool can help reduce the time spent following up on sales leads and orders. This, available from the Google Labs section in your account settings, lets you specify several different canned responses. What makes this especially powerful is the ability to link your canned responses to Gmail’s filters – You can create a filter to sort out specific Emails, and use this to trigger an automatic canned response.

Canned repsonse for Outlook & Thunderbird
If you’ve got your Email account plugged to Outlook, you can use the Quick Parts feature to save preset text blocks. Another option is to use an extension like Email Templates (www.emailtemplates.com). This gives you a lot more control over your canned responses. Of course, the code gurus out there might prefer to create macros or VBA code to get this done! For Thunderbird users, the Quicktext extension lets you save predefined text blocks – when you want to use any, just select it and the text will get copied into the reply window.


Email tracking helps measure the response to your sales Email by embedding links in your messages. One of the simplest ways to implement this is to use Google Analytics’ URL Builder which lets you specify links for your various sales and marketing channels.

If you want even more information – you might find it useful to be alerted when your mail is opened – Email open tracking is what you need. This embeds a ‘beacon image’ in your email that is accessed whenever it’s read – alerting you to the fact. This removes the need for follow-up Emails – for example, there’s  no need to check with clients whether they’ve seen the price list you sent – and also improves your sales lead and contact tracking.

Some of the simplest ways of implementing Email open tracking are with browser extensions or web-based services:

  • Bananatag for Gmail (For Google Chrome)
  • ToutApp (www.toutapp.com) is a service that provides Email scheduling, tracking and offers browser plugins for Gmail – and can connect your Salesforce and Google Apps accounts
  • RightInbox (www.rightinbox.com) offers click tracking, open tracking, and email scheduling for Gmail


Being able to share an email folder, or label in the case of Gmail or Google Apps users can be a great way to share useful information within the sales team and to delegate tasks. Microsoft Exchange supports Shared Email Folders natively, and it is a very popular feature among Exchange users.

If you are on Google Apps, GrexIt (http://hiverhq.com) can be a great way to share Gmail Labels. You can use shared labels to shared useful sales email conversations, and to notify your teammates about the status on sales queries from right inside your email inboxes. Learn more about how email collaboration can help your sales team.


Google’s in-built tools offer a basic level of functionality that can be useful for those running smaller Email campaigns, but might seem limiting to some: For users requiring greater functionality, a sales, marketing and CRM service is probably a better choice. These provide you canned responses, templates, and Email open tracking.


Yesware (www.yesware.com) is a very popular CRM system that also offers Gmail integration. Yesware’s Firefox and Chrome extensions bring you collaboration tools, Email tracking, CRM data, and canned responses / templates straight to your Gmail inbox.


Salesforce (www.salesforce.com) CRM also offers E-mail open tracking and canned templates amongst its feature set. If you’d like to integrate Salesforce with your Gmail account, you can check the Cirrus Insight (www.cirrusinsight.com) browser extension.


MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) is a full-fledged Email marketing service that offers Email templates and tracking. MailChimp also offers Google Analytics and Gmail integration.


PinPointe (www.pinpointe.com) is an Email marketing and sales solution that integrates tracking, autoresponders, templates, Email surveys, and automation.


About the author

Niraj is the Founder of Hiver. Hiver turns Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool by letting you manage Shared Inboxes right from your inbox. Niraj can be reached on Twitter at nirajr.


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