WHILE THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, a phone call is better than both. To a point. While a phone call reduces misunderstanding, due to the inclusion of tone and ability for both parties to clarify quickly, it does have it’s limitations – especially when discussing agreements and contracts. America’s NSA might be recording your conversation, but once the call is complete there is no evidence of what has been discussed.
And that is why a follow up email is a must. Need more reasons? Here’s five:
1. An email can act as a temporary contract
Although contracts are very often necessary and strongly preferred, they leave a lot to be desired. They can take a long time to approve, and sometimes are only signed after the product or service has been delivered! Throughout this sometimes lengthy progress, a confirmation e-mail can serve as a reference and reminder of the agreed to terms. Of course, this only applies when both parties maintain trust.
We all forget, misunderstand, and mishear. A confirmation email should outline all of the agreed to terms to ensure that the 21st is not misheard as the for the 23rd, or 1300 CNY not misunderstood as 30,000 USD. A clear and very detailed confirmation email prevents further confusion, even if it feels unnecessary at the time.
3. Easy Access
There are multiple methods of recording information so that details are not forgotten – Sticky Notes, Word Docs, Excel files, and of course notes on paper. However, emails provide easier access, since the ‘Sent’ folder is always accessible, when you are online or off.
4. Turnover: No Record. No Deal.
People leave. That’s a fact of business. But don’t let other’s staff turnover affect your business. Emails show a clear process, confirm who is responsible, and can even indicate who was CC-ed, and therefore, in the know. If the only evidence of cooperation is a missing contract, that left with a former employee, then you might have a hard time convincing others that you had a legitimate deal.
5. You Remember
The language of sales has varying levels of ambiguity. You may remember all the items discussed, but the details may be hazy. And over time you are less and less likely to remember. By writing it in an email, immediately after a phone call or even face to face meeting, you remove all the haze and clearly lay out liabilities and obligations of each party.
And finally, remember to end your emails with the words “Please confirm receipt of this email by the above by [date]”. If you don’t receive a confirmation from the client, then there is still no evidence of agreement!