Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Getting those calls returned

Long-time readers may remember me griping occasionally about the failure of so many business contacts to return phone calls or e-mail.

I think it’s because most people are so busy that they have no time to deal with complex messages. If they can’t respond immediately with a snappy answer like “Yes,” “No,” or “Thursday at 2,” they have trouble processing the message in real time. So they put it off, recording the message on a scrap of paper or saving it in voice mail. Or they leave the unanswered e-mail in their Outlook “In” box – where it quickly (and conveniently) slips off the screen, never to annoy them again.

Either way, few people are organized – or professional – enough to either finish processing messages immediately, or maintain follow-up systems. (I’m working on both of those myself.)

To get my calls returned, lately I have had some success with calling or e-mailing people back (after waiting a week or so), acknowledging how busy they are, and simply asking them to confirm their receipt of my original message. That’s usually enough to get them to process the message and move it forward, since it gives people a non-committal, non-judgmental opportunity to pick up the ball.

The other thing I am working on is making it easier for people to respond immediately by reducing what I want to its simplest form. Example: asking for a short meeting if what I want is a million-dollar contract. The old KISS rule (Keep it Simple, Stupid) still rules!

I know the seasoned pros out there learned all this long ago, but for the rest of us, success in an era of shrinking attention spans is a ongoing journey of discovery.

If you have a system that works for you, please let us know in a comment. (Or if it's really powerful, send me an e-mail so only you and I know it.)


M T said...

I use the following way to get people to call back (and I have had people call me back):

And I agree with the simple method.

1) I have a couple of questions about your business. Please call me back today. My name is Y and my number is X.

Make sure you really do have questions and don't just go into a pitch (if your in sales).

My theory: Treat the voicemail as a sale or a direct response piece. You are trying to sell them on calling you back...you must give them a compelling reason (for them: self serving, curiosity etc.), but you have to close by asking them to call you.

Thats my theory, try it out and see if it works for you. I would be interested to know of the results.

I have found that many business owners and entrepreneurs love to talk about their business! Its great and I love to hear about them because I am a sponge. I think that will get them to call you back, to talk about their business.

George Torok said...

Hi Rick,
Your question is one that I often hear from sales people. They complain that "Nobody returns my calls."

I tell them, "Nobody has to return your calls."

You need to give them a compelling reason to call. And make it easy for them to call.

Listen to the audio post on my Marketing Blog www.GeorgeTorok.com

George Torok