Celebrating my 12th Anniversary of writing the Kole Hard Facts, and #300, I am reposting my first attempt at blogging and adding some additional thoughts at the end.
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I’m sitting in my office, and “ding,” the email icon appears, and for one time in my life, it’s the only unread email in my inbox, so I quickly scan it and see it’s from a buyer asking something simple. Knowing she had just sent this, I picked up the phone, and after two rings, her voicemail system picked up.
I answered the mail with my one-line answer. As I turned my attention again to the spreadsheet I had been working on, “ding,” I heard another email come in. It’s from the same customer, so I again dialed the phone, and it went straight to voicemail. Answering the 2nd mail again, I hear a “ding”; she must be sitting at her desk but won’t answer the phone. I say to myself. So, my 3rd answer is, “I’ll answer your question if you pick up the phone!”
Before there was email, and unlimited nationwide calling, I cherished the moments we could have conversations with our clients. The general discussions, not negotiations, but finding out what makes this buyer tick or what the objectives of these projects were. You can’t get that information in an email. It’s only safe to talk freely when you, well, talk!
Before you write your next email, pick up the phone instead. First, try the direct approach and strike up a dialogue. Then, before you start the next long email chain of empty conversation, find out what you need to put in writing the old-fashioned way – PICK UP THE PHONE. It is always my first inclination how to contact people.
Why do we have cell phones if we only use them to write emails? As salespeople, we want to build relationships with our customers and clients. As leaders, we want to connect with our teams. Yet, it’s often the information we can’t put in writing that is the most valuable. It might be how the person changes their voice, or their body language conveys something different. It’s not possible to have a nuanced conversation in black and white.
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect – John C. Maxwell
A lot has changed in the past 12 years since I wrote this article. We now have Slack Channels, Teams messaging, Whatsapp, Intranets, and maybe dozens of other ways to get information. However, it does not replace the best method of communication.
In many of my group coaching sessions, I hear the same excuse; “They were CC’d.” Somehow this magical CC has absolved the writer of any further responsibilities in communication etiquette. We all know that proper communication goes both ways, and, at a minimum, it’s a 3-step process.
- Step 1: Say what it is you want to say
- Step 2: Ask the receiver to confirm what they heard
- Step 3: Acknowledge that you are both on the same page
There are most often multiple steps between the beginning and the end. For example, there could be clarification of the message, some unanswered questions, or details clarified. As my original example showed, there were five or six steps between the original question and the final answer. Having an in-person or over-the-phone conversation is the most efficient form of communication. You will get to the solution and acknowledgment in the shortest amount of time.
Have as many in-person conversations as possible to develop a culture of solid communication and connection with your team. It is hard work today, but it will lead to a better tomorrow.
Thank you for reading our blog for the past 12 years!
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