Hey, January 2025 professional… check out this app. It allows you to select someone from your contact list and then with a push of a button sends a signal to that person alerting them that you are trying to connect. If they wish, they can accept the incoming communication with you, and at that point – you can have a two-way, back and forth, instantaneous conversation… using voice!
Yes, in 2014 we call that the phone.
Even the best business development professionals periodically struggle with call reluctance in their careers. But imagine the next generation of professionals who spent their college years not even having to pick up the phone to order a pizza. As you would guess, many generation Y sales professionals rather contact prospects via text or email than to pick up the phone. This is even the case when it isn’t a sales call to a potential client – even internal communication by Millennials defaults to email.
For example, I asked my recent college grad assistant how things were going on scheduling a certain event as it had been a week and I hadn’t had an update. She responded with, “I will expedite the process with a phone call.” Now this wasn’t her fault, as sometimes email communication is easiest when dealing with many people. However, it was eye-opening to me that the phone was being viewed as an expedition tool rather than the first option in contacting someone.
We all know (and many of us participate in) the text messaging boom. A method of communicating that seems like a technological regression! Just like email, we cannot pick up on tone and messages can easily be mixed up. CAPS LOCKS, emoticons and italics can only do so much.
I recently discovered the app Voxer, an app that acts like a walkie-talkie with friends (think Nextel- push to talk) but it leaves your sound clip on an easy to access screen. Basically like text messaging but with voice clips (and you can also send text and pictures.) So essentially someone can have a back and forth conversation, but not a “live”one… meaning you can reply whenever you wish and never put on the spot. So why do we love text messaging (and now Voxer) in our personal lives and maybe in our professional lives?
I think it all comes down to being more permissive, flexible and allows people to band-aid their fear of reacting to rejection. If we text or email someone, we can re-read it 15 times before sending so it’s just the way we like it. If we interact on the phone, we don’t know what can be thrown at us and how we will react. Texts cuts back on awkward hellos, small talk or good byes. When we reach out to someone via text or email, the person is reading the message on their own terms and it’s not disruptive to their day (this mentality is stuck in the senders head more than the receiver’s mind and is a cause of call reluctancy).
Then there is the big reason why we prefer text or email in a professional setting… the ease of rejection through text based communication. Texting allows us to cope with a message that we don’t like without an immediate reaction… which makes it easier to deal with but less practical in being able to handle the objection. We all know this can become a problem when you communicate important messages or try to approach a conflict through these methods which should always be delivered in person or at least on a live call discussion.
I believe the verdict is still out with text messaging being perceived as a professional form of communication in the business world, especially when a solid relationship doesn’t exist already. It is safe to say that it will become more and more acceptable. It is fine to email someone in a professional way, the question has always been whether or not the person would open the email. Now many of us have our email accounts connected to our phones. So the difference between a text message and an email these days is narrowing.
As of now, I look at text messaging as a complement, not a substitute for the phone. It can really be best used as a “warm up” introduction inviting a phone call. I also believe if you are going to start using text messaging in business development then you need to start tracking the efficiency of it. How many texts do you send per day? How many responses do you get? How many calls did you warm up or meetings did you book using that text language? Then compare it to your dialing efficiency, emailing efficiency or other ways of reaching out to potential clients.
I believe this professional balancing act can be subsidized through social media such as LinkedIn where contacts can send messages in order to warm up an initial phone call or face to face meeting. Mixing this method in with traditional referral based calls can help Millennial business owners and sales professionals take advantage of new technology but stay grounded in the old school efficiencies that the phone call provides.
Eddy Ricci, Jr., has been labeled as “the emerging expert in developing Gen Y sales professionals” by the chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler and is also noted as “understanding what motivates Gen Y sales teams. He is on my radar and should be on yours” by international speaker and NY Times bestselling author, Erik Qualman. Eddy is the director of a unique training and development collaborative platform that services financial planning firms in the northeast where he has arguably worked with more Gen Y financial professionals than anyone in the country over the past four years. He is the founder of The Growth Game, LLC. ,a professional development company and has authored a book that holds the same title. Eddy is a CFP ®, certified coach and specializes in helping professionals develop sales skills, leadership approaches and implement business development activity systems.WWW.THEGROWTHGAME.COM