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  • Overcoming call reluctance

    Overcoming call reluctance

    Last week I took part in a webinar given by Steve Mills, a business results coach.  During the webinar he described the ten keys to growing your business. In order to achieve better results, he said, we need to do things we aren’t doing now. One of these is making phone calls. But some people don’t like using the telephone, Steve said, so for them it’s about overcoming call reluctance.   

    In order to increase your sales, you need to be comfortable calling people in your network – people you’ve met through networking or connect with on social media, including current prospects and past clients. Steve emphasized how important the telephone (well, smart phone these days) is as a business tool. He calculated he’d achieved business worth about £60k over a year as a result of speaking to people on the phone. 

    Fear of rejection can increase call reluctance

    A basic human fear of rejection lies behind call reluctance, it seems. After Googling the term, I saw that various organisations offer training  to help with overcoming call reluctance. There are positive steps you can take to reduce it, as Connie Kadansky at Hubspot explains in her blog on cold calling.

    So far, so good. But what would you say to someone who won’t use the phone? Indeed, they have no experience of using it, because they communicate solely by text messaging? A friend of mine who works for a local county council interviewed a nineteen-year-old for a job recently. During the interview the subject of making calls came up. This was because the job involved using the phone regularly. The candidate should have been ruled out if they couldn’t overcome call reluctance and use the phone as part of their work.

    Texting vs making phone calls

    Being a person of mature years, call reluctance is foreign to me: in my teens and into my twenties, I remember being on the phone to mates and friends endlessly. It used to cause arguments at home because nobody else could use the phone for hours while I was on it! OK, we didn’t have smart phones then. But if you’re used to communicating by phone, overcoming call reluctance may not be as big a problem as it obviously is for a nineteen-year-old with no phone experience.

    What’s the solution? I’m guessing this isn’t an isolated case and there are plenty of nineteen-year-olds who text all day long but don’t phone at all. Texting is a very different type of communication with its own linguistic characteristics; so for them it’s a big step overcoming call reluctance and developing a confident telephone manner.

    People buy from people

    Perhaps there’s a need for more focused coaching, in school and through career and employment organisations, to help young people overcome call reluctance and become confident making telephone calls? Of course, you can read books about increased prospecting but that’s a stage beyond offering advice on using the telephone to prepare yourself for work.

    Steve Mills is right – the phone’s an essential verbal tool because ‘people buy from people’. We need to build relationships, so talking on the phone is next best to having a one-to-one meeting. Once you’ve established rapport, the other person should feel confident enough to buy  from you, whether it’s a window-cleaning service or something else.

    Verbal skills are vital

    Don’t get me wrong – text messaging has its place, just as emailing or posting on social media do. But human beings are social animals and we need to use our verbal skills too, so we don’t lose them. That’s why overcoming call reluctance and being able to communicate by phone – whether to increase sales or just make somebody smile – is vital.

    Our story has a happy end – my friend saw that the nineteen-year-old candidate had many great attributes and she was taken on. This friend then spent time teaching the new employee how to overcome call reluctance and become confident on the phone. 

  • Achieving greater things in oxfordshire

    Achieving greater things in Oxfordshire

    I’ve been a member of The Oxfordshire Project (TOP), a collaborative networking group that extends across Oxfordshire, for a little over a year now, and rate it as one of the best networking groups I’ve become involved with. It certainly inspires people,  so that they’re achieving greater things in Oxfordshire.

    Top talk

    TOP run meetings at attractive venues in Thame, Witney, Didcot, Abingdon, Bicester, Oxford Central, Banbury and Faringdon every month. There’s a lively talk by a TOP member at each meeting, helping listeners achieve greater things in business in Oxfordshire.  I’ve learnt something useful from every talk I’ve heard so far.

    Supportive connections

    Unlike some networking groups, there’s no pressure to provide referrals and the atmosphere is friendly, uplifting and collaborative. The TOP mission statement is ‘To support, connect and inspire great people so they achieve greater things’, and you do feel supported, connected and inspired. As a member, benefits include a complimentary mentoring session with a member of your choice (or with one that’s been recommended) and a coaching session with a member having expertise in an area you’d like help with.

    In the spotlight!

    A new initiative is the TOP Business Spotlight, and I was chosen as one of the first twenty businesses to be in the spotlight. You can read my spotlight feature here on Linked In. After having to think quite hard about some of the questions I was asked, I’m really pleased with it – it’s a great idea to help build awareness of your business, inspiring you to achieve greater things in Oxfordshire.

    Reach out

    TOP say their members have a giver’s ethos based on ‘how can I help?’ rather than ‘what’s in it for me?’. In a world where, it seems, there’s a lot of focus on ‘me, me, me’ I find it refreshing to belong to an organisation that places emphasis on reaching out to others to improve business, personal life, and community at home and abroad.  

  • Your document's finished or is it?

    Your document’s finished – or is it?

    It’s time to start composing that important document! But once you start, it’s tempting to ‘go for it’ and write as much as you possibly can. The thoughts are coming thick and fast, and you’re intent on capturing them all before they vanish again! Then it’s done, and a weight is lifted from your shoulders! Your document’s finished – or is it? 

    No, in most cases it isn’t.  This first draft is a long way from being the finished version.

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  • Giving constructive feedback

    Giving constructive feedback

    Most of us try to do our best when we’re asked to carry out a task or respond to an enquiry – whether this is from customers, clients, colleagues or our nearest and dearest. But how do we know when we’ve done our best? Were we given any constructive feedback? Could we have performed better? Were there aspects we could have improved if we’d been aware they were required? 

    There’s usually some learning to be taken on board, no matter how experienced we think we are. The only way we can really improve is by receiving feedback. But this is mostly not given unless specifically requested.

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  • Overcoming fear f blank paper

    Overcoming fear of blank paper

    Overcoming fear of blank paper is something most of us have wondered how to do at some stage. We have sat in front of that blank sheet or screen, wondering what on earth to write and where to begin.

    Some people find it easier to handwrite initially, others prefer the keyboard or tablet. It doesn’t matter which medium you use, just choose the one you feel most comfortable with. 

    Switch on the light!

    Perhaps you’ve been asked to write a job description or a difficult letter, a marketing strategy or business proposal, or simply summarise outcomes from brief (and now difficult to make sense of!) notes you made at a meeting? Time ticks by and you still haven’t written a thing!

    But there’s no need to feel defeated by the blank paper (or screen) in front of you. Just start somewhere.

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  • Engaging with readers stimulating interest

    Engaging with readers

    I love reading articles by many different writers because every one of them has his or her own style and vocabulary. Each writer has their own way of engaging with readers. No-one writes in the same style as the next person, which to me is part of what makes us unique as human beings.

    Sometimes a writer will use a word I’ve not come across. Being a wordsmith, I usually do a Google search to find out what it means! The writers I’m talking about write for newspapers and magazines. Their aim is to entertain as well as stimulate interest, engaging with the reader and capturing their attention. Good writers succeed in doing this. The best writers are those whose articles provide a pleasurable reading experience. They write well about things that interest us.

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  • Avoid email misery read emails carefully before pressing 'send'

    How to avoid email misery

    I expect you, like me, have received unpleasant or disagreeable emails. These emails were often sent on the spur of the moment, without thought of the hurt they might cause when the recipient read them. If only the senders of badly worded emails had thought twice about how to avoid email misery at the receiving end before pressing ‘send’.

    Silent conversation

    Email messages are a great way to communicate quickly, but the speed and ease with which they can be sent means they are also easily abused.  When you’re writing a report or proposal, it’s going to be checked before it gets sent anywhere. But emails are exchanges of dialogue between two or more parties. They’re like having a live conversation with someone, but it’s silent.

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  • Personalised handwritten mail

    Mail is better handwritten for uplifting response

    I was half-listening to a programme on BBC Radio 4 recently, during which the reporter remarked, ‘…ripping open envelopes feels like such an old-fashioned thing to do’. This comment struck me as bizarre. I half-wondered if the reporter had removed his letterbox on the grounds that he no longer received post – whether impersonal direct mail  or personalised handwritten letters. However, I feel sure he won’t have done so. Any more than he employs a private letter-opening assistant so that he doesn’t have to undertake such a menial task.

    While it’s true that we receive much less personalised handwritten mail these days – birthday cards and Christmas cards are major exceptions – business mail isn’t in decline with the rise of the internet, contrary to what some may believe.

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  • Girl reading attentively

    Letting Your Values Shine Through

    I was at a networking meeting the other day where I heard Mike Jennings of Jennings Property give an excellent talk about values and purpose. He made the point that, at Jennings, they have been developing their core values over several years.

    These values underpin what they do, how they do it and why. Their values have helped create the company’s ethos, so that they’ve evolved from being ‘just another property company’ to one that appreciates the people around them as their greatest friends and allies. Their ethos informs the way they behave with their tenants, suppliers, contractors, networking contacts, associates, partners and professionals. 

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  • Writing creatively

    Writing doesn’t have to be a hairy experience

    A lot of people find writing a hairy experience. They look at a blank sheet of paper as though somebody suggested they jump off a cliff edge into space. The truth is that anybody can write, once they get connected with their thoughts.

    To start with, type any thoughts you have relevant to a particular subject, then you’re underway! It doesn’t matter if it makes complete sense, the point is, you’ve broken the ice and have got started.Read more