Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Getting Your Calls Returned

Do people always return your phone calls? Do you end up leaving lots of messages and still people don’t call you back? When people don’t return your calls what can you do? Well lots.....

Preparation is the key to getting your calls returned. Think carefully about the impression you want to create and outcome you want to achieve. Your preparation will be ‘felt’ by the person you are leaving the message for. People who are well prepared inspire trust and confidence and they give the impression of having something of value to offer.
Mindset before message: Before you make the call or leave a message check your thinking and your expectations. Ask yourself the following question: “Do I really believe that I have something of value for the person I am calling? If the answer is a clear yes it will come across in your message through your words, your intent and your tone of voice.
Building your message:
The first idea we want our message to convey is: ‘I am professional. I am structured and organised, and I am reliable because I am following up on our last call or meeting.’ We want to create psychological reciprocity whereby the person hearing our message feels compelled to return our call because not doing so would mean that they are unprofessional, unstructured, disorganised and unreliable.
The second idea we want to convey is: “I have something of specific value to you and your business.” This is fundamental to engaging the other person’s self-interest. People act in their own best interest. So, to get them to take action and return our call we need to give them one or several compelling reasons to do so. This means that we have to let them know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ with clarity, brevity and impact. The best way I know of to create maximum impact is to describe the potential pay back for them in their language.
The third idea is to state clearly the reason for your call and therefore the reason they should call you back. Your message should answer the question: ‘How I can be of value and service to the person I am leaving the message for?’
Mixing media. E-mail vs. phone messages: If you are not getting your phone calls returned try another communication medium. I find that email works best with a lot of busy people. Email has the advantage of being read, re-read and responded to at different times of the day and of the week. Example: I know of one International CEO who responded to an e-mail follow up message at 11.40 on a Saturday evening. Obviously this was the best time for her to go through her inbox and respond to unanswered e-mail.
End your message with a ‘Call to Action’: Simply asking them to call you back is not enough. You must tell them why it is in their best interest to call you back. Tap into their self-interest by describing the potential pay back and proposing a concrete next step to move forward in that direction. Example: “Hi Bill, I am following up from our last meeting where you indicated that an increase in production levels could justify a full review of your existing ERP system. I am calling to schedule our next meeting where I would like to present the findings of a recent study and explore how those recommendations could be implemented to drive up productivity at ABC Inc. By the way, the 23% improvement number we discussed seems very realistic. Who else from your team should be at the meeting?”

Make it easy for the other person to want to take action and return your call.... and they will!

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