Tired of sending emails to prospects that never get opened? Tired of not getting responses from your customers?
Salespeople of yesteryear never had these problems with in-person meetings and phone calls. After all, it's hard to ignore someone when they're across the desk from you. But, as the world shifts more and more to asynchronous communication like email, text messaging, and facsimiles (just kidding on the last one), unanswered emails are real challenges that prevent sales professionals from achieving maximum productivity.
Lucky for us, the HubSpot product team recently launched a new feature in our HubSpot Sales Free product called "Send Later." The feature, as you might imagine, allows Gmail users to schedule an email to be sent at a specific time in the future. This allows you to draft an email, schedule when you want it to be sent, and then forget about it.
As someone who relies heavily on email for communication with contacts internal and external to HubSpot, I immediately found the “set it and forget it” aspect useful. But after playing around with it a bit more, and getting others’ opinions on its value, I also realized that it’s sometimes better to send an email later instead of now. Waiting a while can actually better your odds of connecting in certain instances, making this feature doubly valuable.
Here are nine situations when a delay can increase your chances of getting the response you want.
1) When you’re working during non-traditional hours.
The main reason to use the "Send Later" feature is to increase the chances that your recipient will open, read, and respond to your email. If you're working late at night, you're probably better off scheduling that email to hit your prospect’s inbox in the morning.
As salespeople, we don't always work normal hours. We might work 9 to 5, but we're also adding extra hours at both ends of the sun's daily cycle. That doesn't mean our prospects are, though.
If you send an email at 9 p.m. at night, chances are that it'll be at the bottom of your prospect's list of emails when they open their inbox in the morning -- reducing the chance that they’ll read it with fresh eyes (or at all). Instead, get your email up to the top of the buyer’s inbox by scheduling it to send when they start their day. While you might not know exactly when they first check their email, a 9 a.m. send as a rule is better than the night before.
If your message can wait a few hours, schedule it to be delivered at 11 a.m. As you can see from the graph below, when we analyzed 20 million emails sent by users of HubSpot's sales software, we found that 11 a.m. is the optimal send time to maximize an email’s chances of getting a response.
(Download the full report on the best times to send email here.)
2) When you work in a different time zone than your prospects.
Calling on a company outside of your time zone is a perfect time to use the "Send Later" feature to send an email. Emailing prospects across the country, or in another country or continent? Just look up what time zone your prospect is in and schedule the email to be opened during their working hours. We’ve found that it’s always better to schedule your emails to send during their business hours, not yours.
HubSpot Sales Free's Send Later feature even offers a time zone dropdown menu, so you don't have to do the math yourself.
3) When you're traveling.
Sometimes, you have to take a trip that puts you in a different time zone. Not only might you be checking your email at odd hours -- in between meeting with prospects -- but you may also be working different hours than normal. Use Send Later, once again, to deliver your message when your prospect will likely be checking their email.
4) When you want to avoid distracting responses.
Smart salespeople block off time for different activities. For example, at HubSpot, we advise our salespeople to block off two to four hours per day for prospecting.
Blocking off time to respond to email is also a clever thing to do, especially for those of us who receive a lot of it. Why? Email can be distracting and many of us could literally live in our inboxes all day -- and get nothing proactive done. (Been there too often.)
To counteract this, I recommend two things. First, ignore your email inbox most of the day. Second, schedule "email time" on your calendar that's reserved exclusively for responding to emails. (For more tips on scheduling email time from the best-selling author and extremely successful entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, check out this blog post.)
If you do end up scheduling "email time," batch your outgoing emails to send an hour or so beforehand. When is the optimum time to schedule "email time?" If you're going to read and respond to email during the workday, then you should schedule it for sometimes in the middle of the day. According to an MIT research study, the worst time of the day to call someone is 11 a.m. So, to make sure you're not sending and checking email during prime calling hours, send your emails right before 11 a.m. and block off time between 11 and 2 to read and schedule responses.
5) When you know a person checks their email at a specific time.
The recommendations above are based on data from a few different studies. While they are the best data I've found that recommends when to send prospects email, nothing beats real time notifications that show us when a specific prospect reads our emails.
Every prospect has different habits. And while we haven't invented any way to record your prospect's every action, our sales and marketing software does track when prospects are looking at your website or reading your emails. By looking at your prospect's contact timeline, you can see exactly when they typically are in front of their computer. Time your email to be delivered at that time.
6) When the timing just isn't right.
Let's say you're making your prospecting calls. You get through to a prospect but, for some reason, the timing isn't right for a full exploratory conversation. Maybe your prospect is up to their neck putting something together for their boss, or they're leaving on a two-week vacation. Whatever the reason, they ask you to reach back out in a month.
While I'm a big fan of scheduling a call when you have them on the phone (or simply trying to call them again in a few weeks’ time) chances are that some prospects will just insist that you send an email. So, in addition to scheduling a task to call them, it makes sense to quickly schedule an email to send too.
7) When it’s a special occasion.
I first met Auren Hoffman in 2006. I've probably spoken to him only a handful of times over the phone since then. We've never actually met in person. But, he never forgets my birthday or my wedding anniversary. Every year, I get a quick note wishing me a "happy birthday and a great Thanksgiving" (since my birthday is November 28th). While I don't know exactly how he does it, I imagine he uses some kind of automation to send those messages.
With Send Later, you can quickly set up a nice birthday wish days or even months in advance. Don't limit yourself just to birthdays, though. There are all kinds of customized messages you could send based on your prospect's interests. Ask if they're watching their favorite football team this coming weekend, ask them if they're going skiing this season, or wish them a happy X holiday.
With the fast pace at which we all move today, personal connections matter even more. Use Send Later to schedule a batch of perfectly-timed well wishes.
8) When you need to give an email extra attention.
Sometimes you're in a rush, but you just can't resist checking your email. But after reading a particular message, you know you won't be able to respond quickly.
You could use Gmail stars or the "mark unread" feature to remember to read it later, but if you're like me, you never get back to some of those. What I've found works best for me is putting the message back at the top of my inbox.
With Send Later, I can put that message at the top of my inbox when I know I'll be sitting down to answer emails. Simply address it to yourself and set the time.
9) When you want to show someone just how hard you're working.
On a slightly more fun note, the Send Later feature can help you give your boss the impression that you're working long hours.
You might already be burning both ends of the candle. You’re driven to do 2x your quota and you're willing to work whatever hours it takes to get there. But, just in case you're not and your boss values the hustle, schedule emails to send at times outside of normal business hours, like 5 a.m. or 11 p.m. For maximum impact, send emails at all hours every day of the week for a full week. See how long it takes for your boss to notice.
Another time to schedule emails for later (err ... earlier) is when you are applying for jobs. Everyone loves an early riser. Schedule your emails to send at 5 a.m. the next morning, and see what kind of reaction you get from the hiring manager. You can also use this trick with clients if you're on a tight deadline and you want them to think you're working around the clock.
I say these last few tips mostly in jest. But, hey, the technology is there. You choose how to use it. I won't judge. ;-)
How to Use HubSpot Sales Free's "Send Later" Feature
If you’re a HubSpot Sales Free user, this feature has been available now for a few weeks. If you're not already a user, you can download the free app and start scheduling emails immediately. It works for Gmail and Google Apps.
The feature is pretty simple to use. Instead of clicking “Send Now” in the compose email window in Gmail, you should see a small clock with a dropdown. Just click the clock and enter the time you want your email to be sent.
All of the scheduled messages get stored in your Gmail drafts folder. Afraid you said something wrong or silly? Did you end up connecting by phone and talking about the content of your email? No problem. If you want to cancel a message or revise it before it gets sent, you can do that. Just go into your draft folder, open it up, and revise or delete the message.
It’s getting harder and harder to reach prospects and customers. Everyone is busy. Timing emails to be delivered when prospects are likely to read them has been proven to increase open and response rates.
As salespeople, we need to leverage every trick available, so that we can connect and explore new business opportunities with the volume of prospects we need to hit our goals. With Send Later, you can increase the chances of getting your message read, and ultimately, getting that appointment.
Let us know how Send Later works for you in the comments below. If you come up with other ways to use it, please share those too.