How to Stop Email Tag (and Rules to Confirm the Meeting Faster)

Few things are more important than securing a meeting with a key prospect or client, particularly when time is of the essence. Unfortunately, many boutique asset managers inadvertently complicate the process of scheduling meetings by getting caught up in unnecessary email tag, resulting in a loss of urgency and missed opportunities.

Despite the growing popularity of Zoom and Teams for virtual meetings, the process to schedule meetings remains hindered by the vague or ambiguous language used when proposing a meeting, whether it be in-person or online.

How Not to Schedule a Meeting

If you have ever attempted to schedule a meeting with someone, the following email exchange may seem all too familiar. Two industry colleagues were introduced via email in this example, but the scheduling process was inefficient and time-consuming. To protect their privacy, we have changed their names. We’ve included feedback for each email to demonstrate more efficient meeting scheduling practices.

Introduction Email

From: Dan
To: Joe, Mark
Date: February 20, 2023 at 3:42pm

As discussed with both of you, Joe and Mark consider this an introduction. Please schedule a call and copy me. I’ll join if I can.

Email #1

From: Mark
To: Joe
Date: February 21, 2023, at 10:42am

Thanks for the introduction, Dan. Good to meet you over email, Joe. Looking forward to connecting via phone or zoom. Let me know what works best for your schedule.

Feedback >>> Pleasant correspondence so far. But Mark could have suggested a date and time, or two. You never know if that option may have worked for Joe, and this scheduling process would be concluded.

Email #2

From: Joe
To: Mark
Date: February 22, 2023, at 10:01am

Hi Mark, Pleasure to meet you over email, as well. Do you have availability the week of February 27th? If so, mornings (7am PT to 9am PT) tend to work best for me, but I am flexible if needed.

Feedback >>> Joe offered a window of dates and times for Mark to select. For more efficiency, Joe could have added a specific date and time, along with the windows. If the specific option would have been satisfactory for Mark, that would have limited the email tag.

Email #3

From: Mark
To: Joe
Date: February 24, 2023, at 1:42pm

Hi Joe, the week of February 27th works great. The 27th or 28th would be ideal. Please feel free to choose the time that suits you best within your window.

Feedback >>> Joe already said these dates and times work for him. Mark could have simply selected a date and time from within the window and sent the meeting invite.

Email #4

From: Joe
To: Mark
Date: February 25, 2023, at 4:47pm

Hi Mark, how about the 28th at 8am PT? I am flexible that morning, so if an hour earlier or later helps with your schedule, that is fine.

Feedback >>> Joe and Mark agreed that the dates and times window works for them. Joe could have simply selected a date and time within the window.

Email #5

From: Mark
To: Joe
Date: February 25, 2023, at 6:42pm

February 28th at 8am PT works great. Would you prefer a call or zoom meeting?

Feedback >>> After five emails, we finally confirmed the date and time. Mark should have just sent the meeting invite. Instead, more emails are required to decide if this will be a Zoom or phone call.

It’s not uncommon for email tag to continue even further, with Joe possibly asking Mark if he wants him to send the meeting request or if Mark would prefer to do it himself. This may seem surprising, but it’s a scenario that happens when scheduling a meeting.

It’s important to note that in the email exchange provided as an example, neither Joe nor Mark took any steps to move the scheduling process forward toward finalizing the details and securing the meeting. As a result, the process dragged on without any progress for five emails in five days, and the opportunity to schedule the meeting was delayed. This open-ended approach would require at least a few more emails to settle the specifics, which can be frustrating for both parties who have more important tasks to focus on than playing email tag.

Rules to Confirm the Meeting Faster

For any boutique asset manager, the objective is to confirm the meeting as swiftly as possible and proceed to more pressing matters. This goal can only be achieved by minimizing the number of emails required to schedule the meeting. Additionally, it’s crucial to minimize the time gap between emails to maintain a sense of urgency and ensure the process moves forward efficiently.

To achieve efficient meeting scheduling, follow these rules:

1. Always propose date and time options first and suggest alternatives if they don’t work. Waiting for the other person to suggest dates can prolong the process, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll align with your schedule.

2. Send the meeting invite immediately after confirming the details to secure the appointment. Waiting until the meeting date approaches risks losing the opportunity if the other person’s schedule isn’t blocked.

3. Inform the other party early on that you’ll send a virtual meeting invitation to eliminate confusion about who will send it.

4. Have your own Zoom or Teams account. Never ask the other person to use theirs if you don’t have one. It’s unprofessional.

5. Be clear and specific about time zones to avoid misunderstandings. Using the other person’s time zone is the best practice.

6. Teach these rules to your assistant if you have one to save time for everyone involved.

For a professional tip, use a scheduling tool such as Calendly. Calendly simplifies the process of scheduling appointments and meetings. It allows users to set their availability and share a link with others to book a time slot that works for both parties. Calendly integrates with popular calendar applications like Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook, making it easy to manage scheduled appointments and avoid double bookings. Other scheduling tools include SalesForce Scheduler, HubSpot Scheduling Software, and Fugent Scheduling Assistant for investment professionals.

While many professionals appreciate the speed of scheduling meetings through technology, some may prefer a more personal touch. In such cases, I am happy to accommodate their preference for back-and-forth communication while still adhering to my efficiency protocols.

Scheduling a Zoom meeting efficiently requires clear communication and proactive planning. By following the rules outlined above and minimizing the number of emails needed to schedule a meeting, you can ensure that the process moves quickly and smoothly, allowing you to focus on more important tasks. By adopting these best practices, you’ll be able to close deals more efficiently and leave a positive impression on your clients and colleagues.

Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, an award-winning firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers, and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations, and sales programs. Click to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.