Pick Up The Phone
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Estimate Software- Printing software that helps you find the hidden treasure in your business.

Pick Up The Phone

One of the worse things you as a businessperson can do is ignore request for return phone calls. These are missed opportunities and once they are gone, it will be very difficult to get them back.

By Johnny Duncan

If you’ve been guilty of this in the past, here is a technique you can use that was not borrowed from Steven Covey or any other business or time-management guru. This is something we all probably learned (or should have learned) in kindergarten. It is simple manners that when applied can take your business to new heights.

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  • When you first get to your office or shop in the morning, gather all of your phone messages from the day or night before and sit down with them. Now, if the person calling requested a return phone call… are you ready… CALL THEM BACK. It is not a difficult thing to do. If it is not a person you have time for, call them and let them know that you don’t have the time right now. If it is a sales call and you are not interested, call them and let them know. If it is a bill collector and you are not ready to pay, call them and let them know.

    One of the reasons we are so reluctant to return phone calls is because we think that it will take a lot of precious time we don’t have. This is only a perception. We do have the time and in this case, we control the time. Your friends might not even tell you this, but I will: Not returning the call because you don’t find it a priority is only giving yourself an excuse to be rude. Before you stop reading, let me explain what you are missing out on.

    Sales calls
    By not returning a call, you are not only showing disrespect for the person who called, you are showing that person that you are not a professional. Even an annoying sales person will go away if you call them and tell them that you are not interested. After that, if they call again, you have every right to ignore the call.

    If you are somewhat interested in what the salesperson has to offer, but not ready to buy, let them know that you are not ready. Give them a date in the future that they should try calling you back. Be professional and courteous. A friend of mine who is in government work was always kind and professional to the salespeople who tried to sell him computer systems and software. When it came time for an election, these salespeople stood behind him and even contributed to his campaign. He has yet to purchase anything from them.

    You may not get elected to office, but salespeople will remember your professionalism and may help you generate leads or help you solve problems in your shop. It could happen, but even if it doesn’t; rise above the average in today’s business world and be professional.

    Missed opportunities
    Let’s say you get a phone message from someone you don’t know and the only message was a request to phone him or her back. The temptation is to put it off and take care of what you see as priorities, and I’m sure they are. However, what if that person is your next big account. What if you never call back and they end up calling someone else. You could have lost a sale because you chose to miss an opportunity.

    Returning a phone call only seems like a time-waster. On average, a return phone call takes about three minutes. Here is an idea that will help you to manage your return phone call time. Buy a cheap egg timer or if you can find one, get one of those sand, hour-glass timers, and limit your return phone calls to three minutes. If the other person tries to exceed that time let them know that you would love to continue the chat, but you have deadlines to meet, (unless of course, it is a sales lead).

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    Another missed opportunity could be someone who requires a return call, but is looking for something your business does not provide. Have a referral list handy to use so that you can send that person to the business that can help them. Once you have a list started, contact these companies and ask them to reciprocate. You could generate business without even advertising. This referral system has been around for a very long time, but we have gotten away from it because of the “lack-of-time” excuse, pride, and not knowing other businesses in our communities.

    Establishing structure
    An advantage of returning phone calls on a timely basis is that you begin to establish structure in your personal work habits and in your office. The discipline required to return every single phone call you receive will show the solicitors, future customers, suppliers and charities how professional you are. It will also instill in your employees and team the same discipline. In his book, “Leadership Secrets of Attila The Hun”, Wess Roberts describes how when the leaders of the tribes came to the campfire wearing a particular garment, eventually, the tribe would begin wearing that same garment. If the leader changed clothes, the tribe did also.

    Setting an example for all to see is not the only reason for returning phone calls, but it is a darn good one. This simple act builds and reinforces integrity--- something desperately missing in the world today. Keep in mind that even though the call may not be all that important to you, it was important to the person who stopped what they were doing, took the time to look up your name and/or company name, and made the call. Some forethought was there prior to the call being made and this person actually had YOU on their mind for a short period of their life. Shouldn’t they be given the same consideration as well?

    Tit for tat
    Or this for that! However you want to say it, remember that you have also left phone messages that went un-returned. You know how that feels. You know the frustration of trying to get supplies sent over or a customer to call you back. Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to not return a phone call. The call is cheap and the dividends are high.

    The next time you get a phone message to return the call, please take the time to do so. It costs you very little (remember the egg timer) and could profit you and your business greatly.

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