I have promised you a solution to deciding whether you should answer the phone or not. Here, I deliver.
The solution is simple and has been around for a long time. It is something we all know and have always believed. Here it is: We must practice the Golden Rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I hate being put on hold. I hate when I am speaking to someone and they are not paying attention or they are looking over my shoulder at someone else and not me. I am fully aware of this rule when I am taking care of a personal matter and I want the undivided attention of the person whom I am seeking assistance. When I meet with my doctor, it is just him and I in the room except for maybe a nurse who is just standing there quietly and never interrupts. I have his undivided attention. When I sit down with my CPA and we are discussing my taxes and getting everything handled for April, he gives me his undivided attention. My CPA and my doctor are able to do this because I must make an appointment with them at a time when they are able to give me their full attention. I cannot just walk into my doctor’s office or my CPA’s office and start talking. I must set an appointment. This means that I must schedule time out my busy life to meet them. When I arrive I get the respect that comes from a professional who takes his profession very seriously, and is fully prepared to share information and provide me the answers or assistance I requested or need. My Doctor and Accountant both give me their undivided attention. So it is a combination of the Golden Rule and just good old fashion professionalism.
Another solution to this issue is utilizing voice mail and perhaps changing our voicemail message to show how much we value our client and their needs. The voice message convey to our clients that we are currently engaged in meeting with a client and ask if they would leave a message with a time and date in which they would be available to speak to you. This message communicates a level of professionalism that shows you care and that you are giving another client your undivided attention. The voicemail message goes a long way in establishing clear expectation and guidelines by which you will engage your clients.
In addition, having a great administrative support and assistance, and someone who is tracking your emails and responding to clients while you are in meetings is key. The clients now knows that the message has been received and depending on the level of support you have, the assistant can make contact with the client and obtain information about their request so that you are even more prepared for the meeting or conversation. Having strong administrative support is the best way to ensure your clients are truly being served.
We are approaching the halfway mark of 2016. If you are not bringing your A-game in this area you have time to fix it now. I believe that now is time for all of us to take our level of professionalism to the highest level we can within our individual capabilities. Real professionals are not available on the phone and rarely answer their own phone unless it is their cell phone. It is rare that you can get a successful sales professional on the phone. You have to make an appointment. If you can reach them it should be red flag that they may not be as successful as they would like you to believe. You should get their voicemail, secretary, administrative assistant, someone in client relations – anyone other than the professional because they are busy taking care of their clients.
This is common sense and an aspect that we must implement to become successful. In the last installment of this blog series I will discuss the application of how we can be better professionals in five simple steps. Watch for Stop Answering Your Phone: Part 3 for the conclusion of this important skill.
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO