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Ernest Hemingway said "Never mistake motion for action,”

Why are sales professionals afraid of the phone?

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The trend toward "Where's Waldo?" websites that hide company contact information has spilled over into email signatures. Let's take a poll: Who still uses email? Ahhhh, many hands go up. It's not going anywhere. Although more professionals, especially younger ones, skip the entire phone number element altogether, "Best, Cameron" isn't enough and that's not a signature.

Emails get forwarded to higher up decision makers and team members. Why would you want to discourage communication? Are you all that jaded by spam calls and telemarketers? Are you so self-obsessed that you think you are too busy and important to pick up the phone? If you are EMAILING someone, chances are they are a real human that could play a role in your success. Why wouldn't you add your phone AND email address in your signature? When emails are forwarded, your contact info may be lost and only your name remains. Unless you are truly famous, the group may not know you at all, and they don't know the role you play, why you are included or if you should continue to be included since you don't bother with a last name, phone, or email. You are coming across as the seasonal intern.

Why It's Important

If you make it difficult for someone to reach you, people will assume you are a minor player, have no decision making skills and possibly don't know how to speak on the phone. Are you so self-obsessed that you think you are too busy and important to pick up the phone?

Cristian-newman-186377-unsplash-balloon-face-hidden-900I know if there are several contacts, I'll reach out to the one that is easiest to reach with the assumption they must want to communicate and participate in the task, conversation or project. If you make it difficult, I'll assume you are a minor player, have no decision making skills and possibly don't know how to speak on the phone. Sound like a fair assumption?

Do you know how to speak on the phone or are you limited to only cryptic texting effectively? If you don't want to speak, list your assistant. You don't have to give up your cell phone number, but give people SOME way to SPEAK to you, invite people to set a PHONE appointment. I've found that a 3 minute conversation can many times cut down on a dozen emails asking for missing information, clarification and close a client faster. It can also clear up any misunderstanding in tone and context.  Isn't your time more valuable than the inane email threads of, "Got it." "Thanks I'll get back to you." "Which days work for you?" "No, that won't work, how about..?"

Why it Matters

Giving out your telephone number in your email signature shouldn't qualify you as brave or highly professional, but apparently the bar has been lowered substantially.

Since the bar is lower, I'll assume you didn't realize this next tip:

Did you know you need to configure your email signatures when you text, when you reply from certain smartphone email apps? It's not automatically bringing in the same signature from the desktop app just because you are replying from the same account on your smartphone. You can usually configure an email signature to be a bit lighter when you are replying to a thread that already contains your full information, but ALWAYS include your EMAIL address, full name/title and SOME phone number they can reach you, text or leave a message that YOU WILL RETURN PROMPTLY, unless you are just playing sales professional and really don't want to close more deals, or increase your value and authority. If that's the case move into IT where you can hide behind a help desk system and never need to build long-term relationships. AT the VERY least give your full name and cellphone number. Sometimes we use the mail app for more than one account so giving an email address may not work so well.

Consider having ONLY business mail go through the MAIL app and all other accounts, personal, etc. go through the Gmail app. Just an idea. It allows you to set notifications for business to only happen during business hours and personal accounts don't sent notifications.

Tips when you DO answer the phone:

  1. SMILE
  2. Turn down any other music, podcasts, etc. so you can really HEAR the caller.
  3. If you're driving and it's possible, pull over so you can really listen and don't crash
  4. If they don't answer the first time you say hello, pause 2-3 seconds and say it again. With VOIP, wireless connections, there is usually a DELAY and they can't tell you answered. Take a breath before you get irritated.
  5. If it's during regular working hours, it's not a bad idea to state your name, "Hello, this is Susan." so it sounds somewhat more professional than a friend catching you between happy hours.

Questions for you when you do NOT answer the phone:

  1. How's that outgoing message?
  2. When was the last time you updated it?
  3. Have you called YOU lately to see if you'd leave a message for "that" person?
  4. How's your inbox - full? Don't ever let it get full.
  5. How often to you check messages?
  6. How long do you take to return the calls?
  7. Do you have more than one outgoing message - one for callers and one when you are on a call (call waiting)? Make sure they are both CLEAR, upbeat and current.
  8. Do your phone messages feed into your CRM or contacts? You may want to make that happen so you don't have to dig around looking for this person again.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

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