I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to a business meeting and been asked to give an ‘elevator pitch’. That is because it is literally dozens… probably hundreds!
Most networking meetings give you 60 seconds to relay to the rest of the room what your business offers. But, according to The Center for Sales Strategy, that whole minute is a bit too generous. They say that someone will decide in 20 seconds whether they will listen to you or not.
This critical window of opportunity means that when it comes to business discussions in lockdown, a telephone call can be a better way of engaging than a video call.
As I mentioned in my last blog, it’s time for us all to consider Zooming Out for at least some business conversations! If those 20 seconds are spent trying to connect to the audio or with other issues, you may be facing an uphill struggle before you start your conversation.
This is where telephone calls come into their own. They are direct, simple and there is no loss of nuance or tone in the same way as an email. I sincerely believe that building a relationship with good, old fashioned telephony during times of social distancing is a valuable tool.
But when is it best to call? Some of you may find it second nature, but a study shows millennials hate using their device for the very thing the phone was invented for: talking!
There are occasions where a call is better, so let me introduce some thoughts as I ask you to consider Zooming Out of video conferencing.
Fewer distractions with a call
Being at the end of a phone helps us be more focused on what the other person is saying. Even if you have joined the 20 million people working from home in the pandemic, the distractions are easier to manage while on a call.
Let’s consider Professor Robert E. Kelly back in 2017! While speaking live to the BBC, one of his children wandered into shot, distracting the news presenter. That moment went viral and has become part of television history!
While you may have chuckled at the time, there’s every chance you now sympathise with Professor Kelly. How many Zoom meetings have you had in recent months where another member of the family has wandered into shot? Or what about a family member asking if you require tea or coffee out of view?
All these circumstances distract you, but they also distract the other person, which means the thread of your conversation. Such distractions are easier to manage on a phone call because the other person won’t be fazed.
What we say and the way we say it is paramount to helping others fully understand each other better. Listening is an incredible skill and research by the Wright State University says it not only allows us to acquire more information, it increases trust in others and reduces conflict.
Watching someone (and yourself) on a screen can be uncomfortable, it can mean we concentrate on the what is in front of us and less time listening to each other.
As camaraderie is tied to the transfer of emotions, a call does a much better job because the conversation adds layers of information through interactive dialogue that can be missed in video calls.
U.S. headphones entrepreneur Joe Huff explains, “There have been so many times, a new store or account or potential press relationship, we’ve gotten on the phone with them and after the conversation, even [after] just a 15-minute story about what we do and why, they say, ‘Wow, I read everything on your website, but to hear you tell it, there’s a huge difference.’ Because we have a passion-based business, it’s really important for us to get that across.”
Anyone who has been in business for any length of time will know that there are some days when things go wrong. If you suddenly realise that a client issue has arisen that needs attending to promptly, I would suggest it’s highly unlikely you will look to video conferencing.
In the first instance, you do not need to send joining information by email or text to the client, which could add to their irritation. It’s much simpler and convenient to pick up your phone!
Making a call alleviates issues before they grow out of control because:
• You convey the urgency of the issue as you haven’t delayed in communicating
• Your client can extract the sincerity of your apology as they hear your voice
• And the steps you take to resolve the problem can be reassured more actively in a call
Effective and meaningful relationships cannot be built on nothing but referrals. Business transactions are clearly part of it, but it is in our human nature to share personal information. In your own business relationships you will have some people who know the names of your partner, children and even your dog, as well as your hobbies and interests.
This also means they feel comfortable sharing their information too, and sometimes it can be quite sensitive. The prospect of being heard by other people within your family who happen to wander past your home office will undoubtedly lead some connections to feel concerned.
The phrase regularly used to describe a meaningful business contact is ‘know, like and trust’. They may trust you, but maybe not others who maybe in ear-shot of what they are about to reveal. Only the telephone can provide that security in a way video conferencing simply can’t.
If building and maintaining effective relationships is important to you, then why not contact me and let me show how I can help transform your organisation.