There is hardly a business in existence that does not depend on the phone, and increasingly, voice mail for rapid and direct communication. Their effective and appropriate use can dramatically improve your efficiency and performance.
Choosing When to Call
Set aside a specific time of day for making phone calls, and list all the calls you need to make every day. Be clear about the purpose of each call, and draw up a brief agenda for each as if the call was a meeting. Then make sure you cover all the items on the agenda during the conversation. Prioritize your calls in order of importance, to ensure that you concentrate your time and resources on the most important and urgent calls.
Keeping On Track
Do not let a phone conversation stray too far from your agenda unless there is a good reason, such as dealing with an unexpected problem. Take notes and tick off items on your agenda as they are covered. You may find it easier to lead your conversation if you stand up or walk about.
It is easier to lose track of time when speaking to someone whose conversation you enjoy. Assess the purpose of the call – for example, can you be brief or do you need to spend time building up a rapport or placating an angry customer? As an exercise, use a timer for a week to monitor the length of time you spend on each call. Time can be sobering, both because of both the cost of the call itself and the cost in terms of your time.
Using a Voice Mail System
Corporate answering machines, also known as voice mail, have become common place. Some people dislike the impersonal nature of voice mail, but you need to understand how the system works and how to make efficient use of it.
It is an ideal tool for arranging internal meetings or eliciting a response from a busy colleague. Avoid bargaining or making deals by means of a seemingly endless series of voice-mail messages, since you need to speak directly to customers or suppliers to gauge reactions and find areas of compromise and agreement.
Things to Do
- Prepare yourself for a phone conversation as you would for a meeting.
- Bunch calls together. If a number is engaged, try it after completing other calls.
- Choose an order of priority in which to make your calls.
- Use a speaker phone so that you can do other work while waiting for an answer.
Do’s And Don’ts
- Do introduce yourself, “This is Bolaji Chinedu, I’m ringing about…”.
Don’t start a call with “Hello” and expect to be recognized.
- Do be aware of the amount of time you spend on each call.
Don’t put off urgent, difficult calls to deal with easier and less important ones.
- Do be clear about the points you want to discuss every time you make a call.
Don’t continue a call if you have a bad line. Hang up and call back.
- Do leave short, concise messages on answer machines.
Don’t make important calls unless you are fully prepared.
- Avoid any distractions when talking on the phone, focus on what the caller is saying.
- Take a deep, relaxing breath before you make a call.
- When making a phone call, have another project at hand to work on in case you are kept waiting.