The “Easy Out” Email Technique

Life is a sales call. Every day we're trying to sell something to somebody — from as little as convincing someone to join you for dinner to as big as selling a potential employer on your credentials. That's why it pays to study sales and psychology.

Most sales activity these days happens over email. So it's important to think through how you can craft emails that get the response you're looking for.

My friend David Cohen, executive director of TechStars (apply to Boulder now!), blogged about a good technique to use that he calls "the easy out." If you've been emailing someone who is not responding and you've followed up by phone and still are not getting an answer, try this:

You can send an email that says something like “It’s been some time and after several attempts, I haven’t received a response from you about my proposal. I realize this may not be a fit for you, but I was hoping you could just let me know for sure with a quick reply so that I can cross you off my list.”…

Magically, you’ll find that providing the easy out sometimes triggers action. Psychologically, it feels like a last chance to the recipient. I’ve noticed that the easy out is generally effective at separating the “maybes” into “No” and “I really am interested – I’ve just been busy.” Most people won’t ignore the easy out (if they receive the message), and their reaction can be telling of their true intentions.

I'll be writing about this topic more later in the year. Let me know if there are other situations where you are interested in how to get the attention of a busy person.


  • Imagine if the SAT lasted two days, covered everything you've ever studied, and decided your future. Welcome to China.
  • When things go wrong or when your expectations are not met, the first words out of your mouth should be: "Hmmm. Interesting."
  • Cool time lapse video of a guy who drove from Los Angeles to New York.
  • What's the difference between liberals and libertarians? Arnold Kling outlines the key points.
  • Long piece on Dave Eggers. "I need eight hours to get 20 minutes of work done…and seven hours of self-loathing."

6 Responses to The “Easy Out” Email Technique

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *