Business Writing Example #2

After Business Writing Example #1, the customer sent an inquiry to my friend.

Please check possibilities to my inquiry form attachment. Please confirm prices and lead time too. Please also pay attention on weight of batteries.

We don’t have any storage space at the moment. There is a rollover and more than 40 containers arrive almost at once.

My friend wrote the following response.

Many thanks for your reply.

We fully understand your warehouse pressure. You can confirm the order this week, because the lead time might be 45 days, which it will arrive you around or after the Spring Festival. This timeline will not occupy your storage space. How do you think please?

Look forward to having your feedback, thank you.

My friend’s English is adequate. Her tone is fine. She is perfectly friendly. The problem with my friend’s message this time is it fails to answer the customer’s questions.

The customer asked for the following information:

  • Prices

  • Lead time

  • Weight

When replying to a business email you should answer every question as completely as you can. My friend didn’t answer the questions about price and weight. A customer should never have to ask you for information twice.

My friend did a minimal job of addressing the lead time question. She should include multiple lead time estimates, depending on when the customer confirms the order. This provides more information to the customer (which is good for the customer) and applies external closing pressure on the customer (which is good for my friend).

The reference to Spring Festival only works if the customer is Chinese or is intimately familiar with Chinese culture. The customer is not Chinese. Either the reference to Spring Festival should be removed or my friend should provide cultural context like “lead times increase around Spring Festival”.

The customer’s warehouse pressure is a potential bargaining chip. My friend should use it to try to upsell the customer.

Here is my version of the message.

Thank you for getting back to us so quickly. We understand what it’s like to have a limited warehouse space.

If you confirm an order this week, we estimate a lead time of 45 days (plus <number> days for shipping). If you confirm an order four weeks from now (late December) we estimate a lead time closer to <bigger number> days.

As for pricing, <pricing information>.

We are not (ourselves) super limited by warehouse space. Another option is to confirm an order now (so lead times are short) but have us mail the package later so that it arrives at the time of your choosing.

Negotiation is not solely about money. My friend benefits when orders are confirmed fast and confirmed early. If she can offer her company’s warehouse space in exchange for faster confirmation then everybody wins.