This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
Years ago, I saw a terrific comic strip. The scene was an office, with a man holding up the receiver of a phone stating: “Check this thing out. It works just like email, but you can talk with the person.”
I saw this about 1998 or so, and I thought it was brilliant. At the time, email was starting to gain a lot of traction in business communication, but it was still a unique tool. Not every business had email yet, but the buzz was there. I attended a seminar called “Get out of Voicemail Jail,” and it was all about this crazy concept of using email to prospect for new customers. What? Email a prospect? Like a cold call?
Today, email is the most common form of business communication. Whether marketing mass emails, attempting to schedule appointments, or following up on proposals, most salespeople use email to communicate with customers and prospects. How many emails do you receive that are from strangers blindly marketing to you or constantly copying you and 30 other people on topics that mean nothing to you?
In addition, two generations (Millennials and Generation Z) joined the workforce since verbal communication had no longer been prominent. They use email or text messaging for virtually all forms of communication. In a recent study by LinkedIn and HR services provider Randstad, more than half of Generation Z workers use technology to resolve conflict vs. phone or in-person conversations.
With our current situation of managing expectations around lead time, price increases, and other things out of our control, many of our upset customers are receiving text messages letting them know that their construction plans may be getting delayed by four months.
Let’s reflect on that comic strip I saw 20 or so years ago: “It works just like email, but you can talk with the person.” Perfect!
The Salesperson’s Best Tool: The Telephone?!?
In today’s world of continuous issues, disappointed customers, and a population that is tired of looking at their monitors or screens, the greatest salespeople pick up a phone and call their customers.
Here are three situations where salespeople should be using the phone:
1. Whenever there is an issue or potential of a customer being unhappy, call. This is absolutely critical. Do not deliver bad news or try to resolve issues without talking to the upset person or people. There is a plethora of information shared in a voice that does not get communicated in written words. Empathy, hostility, desperation, and appreciation cannot be read, they must be heard.
2. Use the phone or voicemail to enhance other forms of communication. If you are going to mail a case study or email a link to an article to a customer, call and let them know. If you must leave a voicemail, that is ok. You will increase your acceptance rate by 25-50% with a simple call.
3. Call to say thank you and ask if they need anything. I know a very successful salesperson who calls a different customer every morning at 8:15 just to thank them for their business and ask if there is anything he can do for them. That’s it. No requests or pitches.
Once you decide the right time to use the phone, here are three tips to maximize its effectiveness:
1. Call direct lines. After Covid, no one calls direct lines anymore. Guess what? Most of your prospects are back in the office, and they are answering their direct lines!
2. Keep it brief. I take calls from certain people because I know it will only take one or two minutes, and I avoid other callers because of the opposite outcome.
3. You don’t have to use Zoom or Teams (or whatever) for every call. Even if you are scheduling a quick call on the calendar, just add to the subject line: “I will call you at...” and go from there!
Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (www.vectorfirm.com), a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use "Security Business" as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at www.vectorfirmacademy.com. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/12361573.