Do you remember the telephone when it was just a telephone? The phone of today has dozens of other communication and entertainment tools in one device. But there was a time when that was all you had, and if you did not know how to use it properly, you were out of business.
Please listen to what I am about to suggest. Please! You need to take some time and focus on your telephone business skills. You may be an expert at texting. You may be the master of fifty different apps. You may stand in line for hours and pay through the nose to have the latest technology, but if you do not work on your necessary telephone skills for a business you will be in future jeopardy.
We need to go old school and learn or at least remember the skills involved in using the telephone as a powerful business tool. Before we could text or email, we mastered the art of “smiling and dialing.” We would call people and conduct business by only talking with them. I know people who text people twenty times or more to decide where they’re going to meet for lunch when it would have saved time and effort to pick up the phone and call directly.
Here are a few of my basic rules of using the telephone for business.
- Identify yourself. Answer your business phone like it was your business phone. I am so sick and tired of people that I call who answer their phone with a “Yea?” or a brief ““ I make it a point that whenever I answer my phone. I always say, “Hi this is Coach Dan, how can I help you?”
- Have a great script when asking people to leave a message. A powerful voicemail script is a marketing opportunity that most businesspeople miss never take use as an advantage. I always have a call to action as well. If I’m calling someone in a business setting, the last thing that I want to hear is some cute, smart aleck, flippant voice mail message. Be business-like and be memorable. The most irritating for me is when an executive’s message is something like, “You know what to do.” I have people who call and tell me to hang up as they just wanted to listen to my voice mail message. I change mine often, but it always says something like, “Thank you for calling, I’m currently not available as I’m probably working with one of my favorite clients helping them grow their business. Your call is important, so please leave a message, and I’ll get back to you in two hours or less.”
- When you do call a business office, treat whoever answers the phone with respect. The assistant or operator that you disrespect may be the executives’ wife, girlfriend, or mother.
- Resist the urge to sell on the phone. Yes, that is what we used to do, but today, the only purpose of the telephone, in most cases, is to set an appointment or lock down a fact or to check-in. But, if you choose to try to sell, the person on the other end will exercise their right to hang up on you.
- Do not waste a person’s time. When you call, have a plan, and know what your purpose is and what you are going to say. Do not drone on and on, or the person you’re talking at will be tune out and play video solitaire while you yap at them.
I have a very long list of telephone skills/issues that you should consider sharpening. But for the time being, I will end with a quote from one of my favorite columnists, Harvey Mackay. He said in a recent article on this subject that we need to “take pride in how to properly use the phone because few people in the world do it well.” Those who master the lost art of telephone business skills will have a distinct edge. Consider it a powerful tool for doing business in our new world.