People of influence
are the men and women within an organization whose opinions count-not
necessarily because they rank high on an "org" chart-but because
they have acknowledged experience or are associated with people of authority.
This article is one in a series of five articles on how to expand your
sphere of influence through better communications.
It never ceases
to amaze me that companies will spend vast amounts of money on leading-edge
technology and then fail to give their staff sufficient training so
they can use it effectively.
In addition, if
these "technology" tools are not handled correctly, they can
rob staff of their professionalism, thus limiting their sphere of influence.
Telephones are a case in point. Telephones have been around so long
that North American business people take them for granted and seldom
offer or seek training in this area. They forget the way the telephone
is answered provides a one-second promo spot for themselves and their
Here are some concerns
I have with telephone handling and some action items.
1. Telephone experts
say most people use only a fraction of their phone's features.
Action Item: Check
to see if a manual is available. If you add only one or two new features
to your telephone "know-how," such as forwarding a message
or transmitting a "delayed send," you will increase your productivity
and your ability to serve others.
2. Although you
may be on the phone with a caller for only a few minutes, the caller
will be forming an impression of you and your organization and deciding
whether working with you will be a good or a painful experience.
Action item: To
handle a call professionally, you should work on conveying the following
3. In a recent survey,
564 business people were asked what irritated them most about the way
a business call is answered. The responses were:
Action item: To
improve your company's initial impact with callers:
4. Another area
that irks people is speaker phones. In a survey, conducted by a market
research firm, 50% of the respondents said they can't stand conversations
where the other party is on a speaker phone. The main concerns were
the lack of privacy and the sound quality. Another sore point was the
belief that the calls are impersonal or patronizing.
5. Have your ever
checked your voice mail and found you had a message but you couldn't
make out the name of the caller or his phone number? Frustrating, isn't
When leaving a message,
state (in this order):
1. Your name slowly
and clearly; spell it, if it is an unusual one.
2. Your phone number,
then repeat it.
3. Company name
4. Date and time
of the message.
5. A message, if
there is one.
6. If you need a
7. Best time to
call you back.
It is important
to use this order because some messages cut out after a specified time.
6. Voice mail is
so popular now we are surprised when someone actually does pick up the
When you set up
your voice mail message, keep it strong, upbeat and brief. You have
only 10 to 15 seconds to create a favourable impression.
7. When speaking
on the phone:
Telephones may not
be an exciting new toy, but sloppy usage can cost you productivity and
image and reduce your influence.