I came across a business blog recently in which the writer, a professed entrepreneur, advised to never answer your own phone. His claim is that it’s essentially a time waster, robbing you of your most precious commodity (time) to advance your business. His solution is to either turn off the phone’s ringer or of course – no surprise here – just let the caller advance to voicemail – particularly if you’re a solopreneur. His “statistics” tell him that 90 percent of those who call him never leave a message, and if they do, if it sounds vague or non-descript, they don’t get a returned call. And here’s one more gem he offered: rendering yourself as a bit difficult to reach positions you as one of the top gurus in your field.
It’s true that many people are merely trolling or feeling out your services when they place a call. But it’s also true that the phone still remains the lifeblood of most businesses. It’s a step removed from face to face contact with a potential buyer of your services.
Of course, you may not be in a position to answer all incoming calls, that’s obvious; but when you’re in a position to do so, it’s your chance to shine, to make an immediate impact. What if a peer of yours directly referred the caller? Wouldn’t you want to entertain this person immediately? What could be more important at that moment than fielding a call that can potentially bring business to your firm? Nothing – REALLY.
It’s also pretty ridiculous to base whether to return a call or not on the way a message sounds. Not everyone who legitimately is seeking your services articulates his message well, and as for vagueness, voicemail is impersonal and people don’t often want to pour out details to a message collection device.
As for being perceived as a top guru in your field if you’re difficult to reach, I’ve never heard such nonsense. Gurus are difficult to reach? Not in my experience. The ones I’ve sought out return my call within a day, and most often within hours of my placing it. They exert their influence through engagement, not being hard to reach.
For too many businesses, the phone has become a pariah. And that’s a shame, because who doesn’t like to hear the person they’re trying to reach on the other end of the line?
Answer the phone whenever you can. If nothing comes of it, you will have at least provided an element of surprise that is getting rare these days.