A friend of mine recently said that while the phone has always weighed 10 lbs for him, this year it has become about 35. I know that is the case for many of us and one way people have tried to combat that is by sending more emails. In fact, I get so many non-client-related emails anymore I had to restructure my rules to filter it for me. Now don’t get me wrong – I love email and it definitely is a great medium for conversations. In fact just this week I have formed a new relationship with an individual who is charming, witty, and really interesting all through email. But, I still love the phone. There is nothing like a phone call to strengthen a relationship, clarify issues and create new ideas.
Yesterday in a conversation with a client, we were talking about a difficult situation he handled well for a client. It was an interesting story and one we are turning into a case study. Just because of the way he said something about the project got me thinking about a different way to approach his work and we then had an entire conversation about how that change could really put his process on its ear but at the same time improve the service he offers. It was an exciting conversation! But it wouldn’t have happened if we had been on email or instant message because the way he writes is different than how he speaks so that idea never would have been triggered.
So how do you pick up the phone? Here are a couple ways to help:
1. Make a deal with yourself that you can’t (fill in the blank) until you’ve made X calls. That may be get a cup of coffee, read your email, respond to something, etc. Whatever will be something you wouldn’t want to give up.
2. Create your call list so that every 7-10 calls is one to someone who is fun. That might be a client, a networking partner, a vendor, etc. (it should be work related; after all, you are at WORK) but someone that will take your call and be interesting. That way when you make the next call, your attitude will come through.
3. Take a break – don’t spend 4 hours making calls straight. While you’ll get through your list, how likely is in that the call at the end of hour four sounds as confident and passionate as the first three did?
4. Don’t fall into the research trap. If you find you spend your mornings researching the people you are planning to call and then don’t get your calls done, try setting a timer. Identify the key things you need to know about the company or person and then give yourself a specific amount of time to find it. Whether you find it or not, make the call.
5. Create your call lists the night before. It can be at the end of your work day, but never make a list first thing in the morning. By the time you finish it you will have missed peak call times and other things will demand your attention.
Whatever you do, don’t lose sight of the value of the phone. It is a key tool to any small business!