Three Trends Transforming Email Into Your Next Big Sales Tool

Michael Grinich, cofounder and CEO of Nylas

Email: We love it. We hate it. Either way, it’s one of the first technology tools many of us ever incorporated into our everyday routines, and today it’s a mainstay of modern life. Up until now, from a business standpoint, you’ve most likely thought of email in two ways: 1) as a basic communication tool, and 2) as a sales prospecting tool that enables your initial cold outreach efforts.

But there is a revolution going on with email today that promises to shake up the technology’s reputation. This most basic of technology tools is morphing into a powerhouse of opportunity and productivity, especially when it comes to sales and marketing.

Three major trends are driving this email revolution. Here’s why you should be looking at email in a whole new way.

1. The boundaries between sales and marketing are disappearing. Traditionally, sales and marketing teams worked virtually independently from each other. Marketing used email to conduct outreach and pull in leads. Sales then took those leads and followed up, going through a series of qualification steps to close the sale.

Today, the process is no longer linear. Thanks to CRM and marketing automation technologies, it is increasingly common for marketing and sales efforts to blend together, based on processes that have email—and the vast collection of valuable data contained within it—at their foundation. Email is, effectively, a database that contains all the information about a company’s complex relationships with its prospects and customers.

Both sales and marketing can make choreographed strategic moves more intelligently by monitoring, learning from, and acting on this data in real time. Advanced analytics such as behavior pattern recognition and lead scoring can help teams drive more informed decision-making and high-volume demand generation. The bottom line: email is the most comprehensive source of data that can drive more cohesive efforts across the sales-marketing continuum.

2. Smarter CRM is here. CRM software is likely already part of your technology arsenal. But for CRM to be truly effective, it must be constantly populated with information, monitored and painstakingly tended, and a specialist is often required to extract actionable and strategic insights.

All of that has changed with a new generation of CRM tools. By integrating with email systems and making it easier – sometimes even automatic – for salespeople to add the right data to the CRM without leaving the inbox, CRM platforms can now deliver a more streamlined experience and higher quality insights. And because they are no longer slaves to feeding details into CRM, sales professionals can now spend more time on high-value strategic tasks: crafting relevant, personalized outreach, honing lead-qualifying strategies, deepening customer relationships, and focusing on the close. The overall effect is more leads converted to sales than ever before.

3. Open source has extended to email. Creating an optimal blend of sales and marketing efforts based on email was a pipe dream in the past. But the SaaS revolution has now extended to email, with open source APIs available to facilitate integrations and customization of features. Companies can use these APIs to integrate email data with various tools throughout their marketing stack, which enables them to execute highly scalable, effective, and brand-specific funnel strategies based on their existing email and CRM data.

Email has changed, and the way you look at it should change, too. No longer just a basic communication tool, today’s email technology should be a strategic mainstay throughout the entire sales and marketing cycle. Embracing these new email trends is not only exciting, it’s a sure way to put you on a progressive track toward advancing beyond the competition and gaining a true advantage in the marketplace.

Michael Grinich is co-founder and CEO of Nylas, a a San Francisco-based startup offering modern extensible email. He studied computer science and physics at MIT, writing the first version of the Sync Engine for his thesis project. He cut his teeth building iPhone apps, previously worked at Dropbox and Nest, and grew up in a valley farm town in Oregon.