You are just starting to make your prospecting calls when one of your existing clients calls you. They’re a great client, and you have an excellent relationship with them. You want to help them with whatever they need, so you answer their call only to find out they have a problem and ask you to help. You sold the client, and you are responsible for the outcomes you promised them, so you immediately get to work resolving their problem.
You call your operations team to let them know your client needs help. Then you call your client back to let them know your team is working on their issue, and they will follow up with you, and you will call them again to let them know their problem has been resolved. You have lost twenty-four minutes of your ninety-minute call block, and you decide to pick up the phone once you hear from your operations team. How can you make your calls when you have an unclosed loop hanging over you?
You Are Not Customer Service
You own the outcomes you sell your clients. You promise that you, your solution, and your company will help them generate better results. What you did not promise them is that you will personally handle every challenge, large or small, from an incorrect invoice to a missing shipment, to shutting down their business because you failed them (only one of these requires your attention).
While you are responsible for the outcomes you sell, you are not responsible for all the transactions that lead to those outcomes. You have an operations team and some customer service or support roles paid to do that work while you work on acquiring new opportunities and new clients.
You should not do the work that belongs to other people on your team, and they are not even remotely interested in making your cold calls for you because you’ve fallen behind. Please test this by asking your operations team to schedule your appointments and see how excited they are to make your calls.
You are limiting your success and results by doing work outside your role as a salesperson, and you are stunting your company’s growth. When you aren’t selling, no one is picking up your slack.
You Are In a Client Meeting
Imagine you are in an important client meeting. You have pursued this prospective client for just over nine months, and you are thrilled to be sitting across from them, deeply engaged in a serious conversation. By all indications, you are leaving this meeting with a new opportunity to pursue, and one you are likely to win.
Just as your client starts talking next steps, your smartphone rings, and when you look at the number, it’s one of your clients, the one that calls you every time they have a problem. Do you answer the phone? Do you ask your prospective client for a few minutes so you can help your existing client with their problem? Or do you ignore the call?
The truth of the matter is that your phone is turned off (the best choice) or on mute (not quite as good, but maybe you have children and aren’t comfortable with your phone turned off). In either case, you are not taking the call from your client, not only because you are in a meeting, but also because you can call your client back when you leave the meeting without any harm to you or your client.
If you are not willing to answer a call when you are in a meeting with a client or a prospect without fear of losing the client, you must then agree that you can let the call go to voicemail while you are in the middle of your call block. How would your client know where you are and what you are doing?
The truth of the matter is that if you are open to distraction during your call block, you are susceptible to distraction from the people around you, UPS ringing the doorbell, and the chime that tells you you received an email, which you shouldn’t have open in the first place.
All Work Isn’t Your Real Work
Many things show up in your world that looks and sounds like work, and it is easy to pretend that some of these tasks are important, and maybe they are. But they are not more important to the only two things salespeople are responsible for: 1) Creating new opportunities, and 2) Pursuing and winning those opportunities.
You aren’t eligible for customer service rep of the year for your amazing ability to defuse angry clients. You are not going to win the President’s Commendation for the incredible invoice design you created for a client when they needed correction. However, you are going to be measured by your sales results, the one thing that should command your time and attention.
What To Do When You Are Calling
Set up your voicemail with the following message: “I am sorry I missed your call. I am in a client meeting right now. If you need immediate help, please call 800-555-1212, and someone from our amazing operations team will take care of you. Leave me a message, and I will call you back as soon as I can.” This is what sales professionals do.
When your call back is over, check your voicemail, call your operations team, and then follow up with your client. You will find that your clients are going to call your operations team, preventing you from playing a game of telephone, where they tell you something, only to have you tell your operations team what your client would have told them had you allowed them to call.
You might have a client who will wait to talk to you, in which case, you will need to have a conversation about your role and your responsibility to them, scheduling a meeting to introduce them to someone they can call who can solve their problem without having you as the go-between.
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