Friday, October 05, 2007

Is Rude Your Rule?

People who are busy in their careers have decided it is okay to ignore others. Somewhere along the line executives have decided that it is appropriate to avoid sales people and others who reach out to them. I think it is rude to just delete phone messages without a return call. Especially when these people's outgoing voice mails states:

"Hello and thank you for calling. You have reached the desk of Mr. BigShot and I am currently away from my desk or on the other line. Please leave a message and I will call you back."

Hmmmmm, why say you will call them back if you know that you routinely ignore many who try to reach you? That is a lie. You are telling the world "I am a liar, but it is okay, because I am busy and everyone know this is just how business works".

It would be better for these people to have a message that states:

"Hello and thank you for calling. You have reached the desk of Mr. BigShot and I do not answer the phone when caller ID displays a number I am not familiar with. Feel free to leave a message, but if I am not familiar with you (and probably even if I am) I will delete your call."

I know this post will ignite some disagreements, but our society has accepted being rude as a normal part of doing business. If someone does not perceive the immediate personal pay-off, they rationalize their full schedule is reason to dismiss.

I know a guy who is senior executive for a major company who makes a sport out of ignoring sales professionals. He laughs about it. The irony is that he is always upset that his own sales team has trouble getting appointments. He does not see the disconnect in his views. As the manager of a team of sales professionals he should be open to talking with those who call is karma!

I recently had a friend who scheduled a coffee meeting as what he called a "courtesy", as the person requesting the meeting knew one of his co-workers. The surprise was the positive outcome of the appointment and the potential of future referral business. They are planning to meet again, and hope to establish a great business friendship. Had he been one who ignored all who tried to call with him, he would have missed this opportunity.

I used to sell corporate sponsorships for special Chamber of Commerce publications around the country. About one in five of the companies I met with participated in these projects. 100% of the companies who ignored me missed the chance. Often after the books were released prominent executives from local companies would complain that they were not part of the amazing, high-profile publication...these were always companies I had attempted to invite, but who would not take the fifteen minutes required to meet with me. They had ignored my voicemails and did not have the courtesy to either call me themselves or delegate the meeting to someone who worked for their company.

Once when I was working in St. Louis I phoned the CEO of a large company. I asked to meet with him about the project. He told me that he was very busy, and only met with sales professionals at 6:30 AM, but if I was willing to come to his office at that hour one morning, I would have his undivided attention for a maximum of thirty minutes. When I arrived he informed me that I was one of the few who ever took him up on the crack of dawn meetings. While he was incredibly occupied running his international corporation, he believed that you should always find some time to talk with anyone who called (he said his mother had raised him to always be polite no matter how busy he was with his career). Since he was a morning person he used 6:30 as his open office hours. He found that it separated the really dedicated people who had a strong desire to meet with him. He sponsored the project and taught me a huge lesson. How we budget our time is our choice, and there is always a choice to be polite!

Everybody is busy. That is just a fact of life. However, elevating the view of your own self importance to the point where you ignore others will set you up to miss opportunities. Opportunities come from people, and you need to open yourself up to those who come calling. This does not mean you have to buy their products, just hear them out. Imagine if every prospect for your business hit delete to your would go broke.

If your schedule is really so full, then delegate to someone else on your team to gather the information. A returned phone call does not mean you have to take the meeting. Just politely find out the basic details and then make your decision as to granting them an audience. A good salesman would rather you have a discussion and say "NO" then to just ignore them outright. If you do decide to let them in, be clear about your schedule's limits and hold them to that window of time. You just might be surprised about what you will discover!

So what is your take on this topic? Leave a comment.

Have A Great Day.



Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true salesman and not a CEO. I talk to nobody who calls me without a connection to someone I already know. You are the one who writes about is through my network that I vet out opportunities. If you do not know me or someone I know, you get no return call.

Anonymous said...

Thom- thanks for returning my call this morning... your comments on this blog ring true, and when someone says 'no' to me, i am not offended... i merely cross them off my list instead of calling again in 3 days. although you said 'no', thanks for entertaining my pitch! -Jordan, UBS

Mike said...

I personally return every voice message I get.

If everyone I called did the same, even just to tell me they weren't interested, I'd be a more efficient,effective salesman.

Great post.

Tripp said...

Generally, one of the biggest complaints that clients have with attorneys is a lack of follow-up. While you may not think you have time, I stick to the motto that there are 24 hours in a day for a reason. One never knows what relationships may come of a simple phone call.

Pete Monfre said...

Two things:

"I am a liar, but it is okay, because I am busy and everyone know this is just how business works". Am I the only one who laughed out loud at this?

Also, I think you would be a great CEO.

Now I understand why you made me get up so damn early when we first met. I'm glad I did but I'm still trying to recuperate.

Aruni said...

I agree. I wonder if good manners have gone out the windows these days. Fortunately, I will usually get some kind of return call/email but that's because I try to use my network to get the initial intro.

I have cold-called several people in the past and more than often I've gotten a call back even it was to tell me they weren't interested...which I appreciated. I figure if I've left two messages and I don't hear back then something must be going on in their life at the moment that might not make it a productive time to connect and I'll try again later or move them off my list.

Nice post Thom!

Kate Carruthers said...

I'd like to tell the truth (that I don't like voicemail & would prefer people send me emails, also that I don't listen to voicemail very often). But the corporate powers that be force us to use a corporate voicemail message script. I resent this as it merely creates an unfortunate belief that one day I'll return a call based on a voicemail that's been left for me.