Excerpted from the book on mindful business management, Business Black Belt.
The truth can be told in two minutes or less.
~ Paul Larson, founder, Summit Organization
We can use our voice mail systems to produce virtual conversations—people no longer need to talk in person to make their point.
I get messages on my voice mail all the time from salespeople saying things like “Hey, I’m in the marketing business. Give me a call. I’ve got some ideas for you.” They leave their number and hang up. Most professional salespeople, especially from the old school when I was learning sales, would tell you never to leave your pitch, never tell people what it is, always let them be curious, always go for the appointment so you can get in front of them and see them.
I’ll tell you what, these days I don’t want to see anybody unless I really have to. I want to hear what the gist of their idea is right then and there on the answering machine or voice mail. And, I don’t want to spend another 20 minutes or a half hour on the phone listening to what they’ve got to say. I recommend leaving a pitch on voice mail. If they’ve got a good idea, they can leave the outline of it on the machine, then I can call them back. I’ve done very well myself leaving my first presentation or proposal to people, in a summary form, in five minutes or less on voice mail. And they’ve called back saying they were intrigued with my proposition. Or when I called to follow up with them, they’ve said, “Oh yeah, I remember, that was an interesting idea and I wanted to talk to you about it.” If they weren’t the right person, they forwarded my message to the right person and I’m spared explaining it again. They could even forward it to several others as well, and my presentation is multiplied.
But when I get a message and don’t know what the call was about, I just figure it’s going to be some salesperson with another “cockamamie” idea that I’m not interested in at all. So my default response, when listening to these messages that request 20 minutes of my time to present something to me, is to hit the Message Delete key.
Leave your number as soon as possible
I often punch the Save key if I don’t have time to return the call. However, I will absorb the message and keep it as a reminder to call later. Usually I’ll remember what a call was about and re-listen to the message to grab the phone number—please don’t make me listen to the whole message just to get your number. If you leave your number earlier on in the message (and repeat it again at the end), I can go back to your message, grab your number and call right away.
One more thing
I often pick up my messages while I’m driving. When leaving a voice mail message, leave it loud and clear enough to be understood from a mobile phone over static, weak signals or road noise. Also, be sure to enunciate your name and phone number. (No matter how many times you rattle it off, I’ve never heard it before so speak it clearly!) I can probably call you back right then when I have the time, but I can’t look up your phone number when I’m driving.
Business Black Belt Notes
- Spell it out on voice mail. Tell the recipient what you would tell them if they were there in person.
- Speak clearly enough to be heard over road noise and a bad cellular or international connection.
- Always leave your phone number; the recipient can call right back without having to look it up!