Answer every damn email

This post was originally written in June of 2011 and posted on the Adzerk - we have decided to purge that old content but I wanted to preserve it here.

One of the goals I have set for Adzerk is to answer every email that comes our way. Nothing frustrates me more then when I send an email to a company and never hear back. It has happened with companies of every size – but tends to happen more the larger a company is.

I think it comes down to two core reasons that so much email never gets answered.

1) It has become acceptable to just ignore sales oriented emails. We all get tons of them and people just delete them. The moment we closed our round it was like the starting gun was fired for vendors to start emailing us.

If you have ever done sales then you know that never hearing back is frustrating. If we send a sales email from Adzerk and don’t hear back – all we know is that we didn’t hear back. If you shoot back a quick email with “Thanks but we are happy with OpenX” – then we know that we need to do a better job of letting you know what Adzerk has that OpenX doesn’t. Or we need to work on our product to create more differentiation between Adzerk and OpenX.

Secondly, salespeople deserve respect and deserve a response. (of course if they keep emailing you then ignoring them is fair game). You never know who that salesperson is in the organization and how you might end up running into that salesperson again – plenty of times by being nice to a salesperson they will let you know how their company works and get you an introduction to the CEO or Director of Marketing.

2) The person emailing you isn’t worth your time. Perhaps they are a small client that you don’t think could afford your product, or they are a small business trying to get a business development deal with you. All it takes is a simple email letting them know you aren’t doing biz dev deals right now – or a rough idea of the price of your product so they can decide if they can afford it or not. This is really bad for a couple reasons – first off you might be wrong and the company you didn’t think was worth your time might be 37signals and your sales guy just didn’t recognize the name. More importantly you earn a bad reputation. When that person who never heard back from you is talking to someone (possibly to one of your dream clients) about how crappy your company is you can lose a huge sale. I know that I have stayed away from Rackspace due to what I have heard from my friends who were all treated poorly as small customers.

If you send an email to someone at Adzerk and don’t get a response – please let me know. My email is james at our domain. If you email me and don’t get a response in at least a couple days then send an email to andy at our domain and I will owe everyone in the office a beer.