Technology vs. Talking

Most people have smartphones. I’m amused by the fact that the word “phone” is part of what we call them because we use them as “telephones” only 7% of the time. Mostly, we are texting, photographing, searching, reading, streaming and doing everything else EXCEPT talking on them. Our world is digital and technology has changed our lives for the better.

It’s easier and faster to text someone “I’m running late” than to make a call. Texts are like “banners” on our phones. There are no steps to finding them when you glance at your screen. Emails are a “far-behind second” to texting when a message is short and doesn’t require an answer. And phoning is usually last on the list.

Taking the time to make a phone call has its place in our world, but many advisors just resort to digital communication. With most people ignoring their calls and our overall contact rate hovering around 10-13% in urban areas, it is harder to dial your way to successful appointment setting.

I’ll go out on a limb and say you CAN’T just dial and expect to set enough appointments per week.

If you randomly dial when it’s convenient for you, you will probably get so frustrated that you’ll give up on using the phone. Setting Phone Dates (i.e. a time that is mutually convenient for you and the prospect/client) will increase your contact rate – to almost 100%. The prospect agrees to a date and time to be available to talk, therefore they are likely to pick up at the agreed upon time. Having several phone dates a week will lower your actual time on the phone but increase your time talking to people.

To schedule a phone date, you need to email (or text) the other person to find out a time that works for them. I urge you not to ask for the appointment through a digital means but to only ask for the phone date.

I spend too much time rewriting three sentence emails where advisors are flat out asking people for an appointment. I don’t think that works. If you are introduced to someone and the referring party carries a lot of clout with the new prospect, your first communication may be able to suggest a visit. But in that case, I’d ask the question as an alternative – “We could either have a brief phone call, but since our offices are so close we can schedule a visit. Which is easier for you?“

I’ve done this email for prospects that are within 20 minutes of my office. One time, the person immediately offered an appointment time. The other time they offered a phone date.

Remember: Emails to people you don’t know will get deleted if your subject line doesn’t resonate with them. There are some easy rules about subject lines. For example: always use the name of the referring person in the subject line to a referral. Keep subject lines to 3 words (see below). Don’t say “Follow Up” as that gets put into junk mail frequently.

I’ve had people blatantly ask me if ANYONE is using the phone anymore. Well, yes, of course. And there are several good reasons to continue using the phone.

The sound of the human voice is very important in building relationships but is being devalued by our technological world. We all know of situations where we resorted to a digital message that got completely misinterpreted. Without inflection, your words can get read in a way you did not mean — and get you in trouble.

To create a relationship (and this business is ALL about relationships) you really need to talk to the other person — in real time. A conversation, with natural back and forth, will outdo any digital communication when it comes to getting someone else to feel like they know you.

Overall, you need a balance between using technology and continuing to speak to people. Using only one or the other will not work. Straight dialing won’t get you enough pick-ups, but rejecting the phone completely will hamper your ability to create relationships.

It’s all about balance.

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Gail Goodman is known as The PhoneTeacher. Gail has developed the best structured analysis of the appointment setting phone call so that all direct sales people can master this critical skill. Being a great sales person is irrelevant if you’re not sitting with prospects, and Gail’s training materials, on-site seminars, videos and newsletters zero in on the most effective way to understand this critical part of the sales cycle. For almost thirty years, Gail has continually updated her seminar and training materials to keep pace with the changes in our culture. Despite the exponential increase in emailing and texting, the ability to communicate effectively by phone remains an important part of American commerce. Gail addresses the new “digital-personal-vocal mix” which all sales teams must learn to manage in our ever-changing society.