Why the phone still matters

We’ve all heard ourselves say at one time or another, “I’m all dressed up with no place to go.” This means you’re prepared for something that isn’t going to happen. In a way, I feel that the huge push for social media involvement is like this.

Companies invest in social branding and sparkling websites then are left wondering about the return on investment for this effort. You engage in Facebook comments or personal news media and post blog entries and generally are left creating your company’s news all day, every day (you can come up with 165 characters of tweeting eight to 10 times a day, right?).

The question is, who’s bothering to read all your social media messaging?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think social media has a solid place in any marketing campaign. I just don’t think it does the complete job. Social media is, in a way, like a fairy post box in a tree stump—if someone were to see the messages there, you could have a great campaign. The question is how to get people to find the right tree stump and the treasured messages inside.

And here’s where the telephone comes in.

Without the person on the phone making your organization an urgent situation for the people your teleprospectors contact, there is no real need to connect. Social media has become so ubiquitous that all the shouting, rambling, entertaining, and informing on-line has become like cake icing with too many food colors thrown in—it’s a mash of messaging whose sweetness doesn’t look so appealing without a clear voice. It’s noise without reciprocity.

The telephone is a much more instant two-way message, and it’s the two-way message that brings about true communication.

Communication (and sales) only happen when people engage one-on-one.

Too often the phone is used to “close” that sale, even though no relationship exists. As humans, we’re trying to push repeatable sales methods and individualized mass communication to the extreme with no better results than ever before.

But, when we engage in true relationship building via the phone, I believe we are using the most cost-effective form of personal marketing possible.

Now, I’m not advocating the archaic badgering of people and wasting their time calls. Nor do I believe that telemarketing scripts with “me, me, me,” messaging work either.

No. I’m talking about picking up the phone, getting to the point, and seeing if there’s a spark for good business relations to happen. If not, I’m willing to let go and move on to the next person. The new opportunity.

So what makes the telephone useful in building business relationships?

I love it when people ask me this! When I pick up the phone, it’s usually after doing a little pre-call planning and personal research. I have in mind exactly the kind of person I’m looking for and will use my first call to confirm my theories of who I want. Once I get through to Person Big (i.e. the person who best fits the profile of the colleague I want to talk with), I’m armed not with information about my company, but with curiosity and great questions about Person Big’s organization.

Thing is, people truly love to talk about themselves, but there are seldom people who want to listen. Hey, listening is something I can do. I take notes next to the questions I wrote before even picking up the phone. I note about personal interests as well as business interests. I offer information when asked.

Funny. These are the basic rules of politeness from back in the day. These rules are so old you’d think they were carved on tablets somewhere. But the reason they are trite and antique is that they truly work in helping people build relationships.

Relationship Selling

Even today, the old saying is true. Everything being equal, people do business with people they like. And even if things aren’t equal, they still want to do business with people they like.

You can’t build a relationship with social media alone. You must, absolutely must, reach out to others. You have to be willing to take the first step in building a good sales relationship. You must pick up the phone and become a real person.

Pick up the phone and ask your next contact about their biggest current need. Ask about things that qualify them as a prospect or disqualify them because their current needs and your current offering aren’t a good fit. Then pick up the phone and do it all again, with the next person.

We can’t build mass relationships. We can only build one-on-one relationships, and do so one at a time. Use your attraction marketing as your back up. It needs to be there. But your best defense today, as an assertive offense. Pick up the phone. Be assertive. You can do this.


Categories: Sales & Marketing