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Conducting Business Over the Phone

I spend a lot of time on the phone.  Yesterday I participated in 11 one-hour calls, including:

  • Recording a podcast with Barry Trailer of CSO Insights;
  • A call with Al Case, ESR’s Principal Analyst;
  • Opportunity reviews with individual sales reps from the company I discussed earlier on this blog;
  • A discussion with Mark Morris, the CEO and founder of My Pipeline, a company that initiates long-term relationships for their clients.

I’ve been doing most of my consulting over the phone for the past 11 years. I’ve had a number of long-term clients whom I had never met face-to-face.

There is nothing that has the relationship-building impact of a face-to-face meeting.  But in certain circumstances, a person experienced in conducting business over the phone can definitely get the job done.

A few ideas for getting the most out of conducting business on the phone:

  1. Make sure you’ve got a good phone line.  I’ve had issues with VoIP—echos, dropped lines, etc.  I use a quality headset that isn’t wireless and plugs into the wall.  Batteries don’t work well for those of us who spend 8-10 hours a day on the phone.
  2. If possible, avoid cell phone discussions when either you or the other party is driving.  No way, you say—if I don’t do that I won’t get anything done.  Effective phone calls require a degree of focus and attention.  I can definitely tell whether someone is pre-occupied with driving. For that reason I refuse to interview sales or VP candidates if they are on a cell phone.
  3. Take notes.  I tell people on the other end of the phone that I’ll be taking notes on my computer, so when they hear me typing, they don’t think I’m surfing.  Ten years ago a friend told me to learn to power type.  I bought the Mavis Bacon program on floppy disks and within two weeks could take very accurate and complete notes during a telephone call.  I’ve got every call I’ve had in the past ten years in my Outlook Journal.
  4. Don’t multi-task when you’re on the phone.  I know you are able to multi-task, but the results of the phone call will be sub-optimal.  You don’t multi-task in a face-to-face meeting, right?  On the phone you’ll need to work harder to understand the real meaning behind what the other person is saying.  You’ll have no visual cues to help. 

One Response

  1. Dave, I love-love-love the new blog! The content is excellent and the posts are so frequent that I’ve begun to weave reading them into my daily routine. I hope it’s doing everything for you that you want it to. Regards, John

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