I made a call across time zones. Deep into night-time where I was.
The intended recipient unavailable. Their encouragement to leave a voice message kicked in. I duly spoke.
When finished, I noticed first that the entire dial had taken less than sixty seconds.
Then it quickly hit me.
I wasn’t happy.
My message just left fell short of the standards I set.
The darkness of the hour was no excuse.
I am better than that. Much better.
After my initial purpose was swiftly dispatched (to say ‘thank you’), I rambled. With far too many an um and ah flickword – such speech disfluencies which infuriatingly I pride myself on never uttering. Even using a misleading phrase that I also loathe (“plenty of irons in the fire”). Worse still, I concluded without a proper form of expectation set for the future.
I was beside myself.
How often do you run through in your head how you’d respond to the recording beep should no-one be at home before you make phone contact?
When coaching rudimentary telephone competence, I deploy the considered tactic of making people turn away. Specifically so that non-verbal cues are removed.
This is especially useful when role playing suspect-cum-prospect conversations.
I’ve also seen worthy results in other situations.
One is during a review. Whether ‘pulling up the drains’ of a live deal, or planning for the next call. If you ask the account owner to imagine leaving a voicemail on their imminent dial once out the current meeting, and say it out loud as if it were real (allowing absolutely none of the deflecting, “well, I’d say this … then …”), whilst crucially you demonstrably avert your gaze, you make vital progress.
Another is during my regular new product sessions. A typical scenario is where you aim to intro your wonderful game changer to a client. Again, imagine next time you ring they’re not around. Now leave that message. Right here.
Both highly revealing an exercise.
And one without doubt we could do for ourselves once in a while.