Pick up the phone!

    I hate leaving voicemail messages. Few things make me feel less in control than leaving an important message on someone’s voicemail.  I have no idea if or when my message will be listened to and even less of a clue how long it will take to get a response. And nothing gives me less confidence than when someone tells me she will be out of the office until the 12th and today is the 14th.

    I admit I am impatient, but if I call someone today for business, I expect to hear a live voice.  If I wanted to leave a message, I would have sent an email.

    How people buy

    In my consumer life, often the first vendor to pick up or respond gets the sale. For example, I am currently in the process of renovating my house. Last week I needed something done that my contractor couldn’t do. I searched online for the specific trade and left a few voicemails.  My third and last call was answered by someone who was clearly not sitting in an office (based on the background noise I heard on the line).  He was courteous, he was knowledgeable and he picked up the phone.  He got the job.

    When your products and services are not obviously unique, what often separates a sales win from a loss can be as simple picking up the phone.  Modern phone systems let you answer your phone anywhere.  Personal routing rules like “find-me-follow-me” allow you to put just one number on your business cards and email signature and phone systems hunt for you.  Mobility tools allow you to have your work phone running as an app on your smart phone. This takes “find-me-follow-me” one step further, allowing you to call your clients back from your cell phone in the car, with the client thinking you are at your desk.

    Time is death to deals

    Even the most connected employees occasionally miss a call, and some calls go to voicemail.  Modern phone companies make voicemail proactive rather than reactive by offering voicemail to email or text alerts.  Its 2013, no one should ever have to call in blindly to check voicemail.  The most responsive sales reps should have voicemail transcription enabled, allowing them to read voicemails from any device and not depend on listening to them.  Time is death to any deal, seconds count.

    We have all heard the phrase “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”  Some of the best sales organizations I have worked with send sales activity reports out to the entire sales team.  For phone-based sales teams, these reports usually show how many calls come in and how long the average calls are.  Often the top reps are on the phones the most.  But what managers should also measure is who is picking up the phone on your team?  Is there a correlation between this metric and success in your org?  Likely there is.

    Tell us how you feel about voicemail.

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