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Which Communications Should I Return?

In this day and age of computers, faxes, and voice mail we are led to believe that life is easier in the year 2003. For many of us, that is not true. Now that electronic messaging has arrived more people can contact us, requiring a greater need on our part to discern with whom to connect and when.

Many of us use the fast-paced world as an excuse for not returning messages. We have not embraced the priorities of effective correspondence. We also must embrace our limitations, and clearly communicate them to those who want to contact us. We need to choose the best way to return communication, regardless of method. Some sort of planned strategy is required.

First the priorities. If you are in business and are left a message by someone who is a potential client, might send you a client, or is an existing client, call them back within 24 hours or less. Make that your company policy.

Let people, especially those who frequently contact you, know the best method to reach you. Tell them the best way to connect with you is by telephone, particularly if you check your email only occasionally. Be sure to check your messages frequently. Many of us can check our messages every hour or two during the business day.

Have all of your telephone messages go to one message center. Many of us have both cell and hardwired telephones, and should be able to retrieve all our messages from one source. Return all business calls (potential client, might send you a client, or an existing client) within 24 hours.

Leave messages with substance, and speak slowly and clearly. Start with your name, then your telephone number. If you are originating the call, leave a message telling them what you want; they will appreciate your information and be able to provide answers. When returning their call, leave a message including the information they initially requested. If you need to speak with them directly, leave a message suggesting a telephone appointment and stating a specific time for them to call you back. Be available and prepared at that time.

How should we handle emails? My motto is ‘If I don’t recognize the sender’s name, DELETE.’ My policy is to check email once per day during the business week. All emails that come in during the weekend are read the first work day of the week. Everyone who frequently calls me (clients, potential clients, and those who might send me clients) typically know the best way to connect with me is by telephone.

We have cell phones, an 800 number, a business number, and two other lines for fax and computer. They are available 24 hours per day. The telephone and cell phone messages are forwarded to one message machine. We are sensitive to adding additional services as required by call volume, which we monitor. Our success is directly associated with how quickly we can respond to our clients’ needs.

I have studied business professionals’ communications habits and found that they have a community impact. People we speak to remember who returns communication. When clients are considering doing business with an individual or company, they consider the return rate of communications. Returning communication, or choosing not to, becomes part of your legacy.

Certain individuals are known throughout the community I live in for not returning telephone calls. One fellow I know (who tells me he is a successful businessman) is known to rarely return calls. His clients must constantly call him, hoping to connect. A businesswoman I know, the leader of a highly visible non-profit in our community, promptly returns all communications’and she is successful.

Many of us include communications leading up to the sale as a factor in completing the sale. If I have difficulty connecting with someone who wants to sell me something, I may very well choose someone who is easier to connect with, even if their price is higher. When asked for a recommendation for one company or individual over another, I always tell friends and clients about their ability to communicate.

It has been said that clients make their decision to buy in the first few seconds of meeting you. Be that the case, your reputation can affect your ability to get in front of a new prospect. Planned communication is the key to connecting with existing and potential clients. Developing an effective plan of communication will help you maintain an excellent business reputation in your community’and clients will line up to do business with you.

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA. He works with realtors who want to attract the right prospects and their affinity partners who want to generate more referrals. More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability. Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.

His books, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, 101 Tips to Attract Prospects, 101 Tips to Generate Referrals and Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Giving Your Clients What They WANT, So You Get What You WANT are currently available. Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Using Your Time, Energy, and Creativity to Create Value, will be available in 2006.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses. He is a networking dynamo. Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together’which is why he started Integrity.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is an Accomplished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to gerry@integritysd.com.  For more information, go to www.integritysd.com

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