Thank you again, and I hope to see you at another meet-up in the future. My sincerest apologies for not getting back to you about the remote internship sooner.
We all get busy—or even sometimes lazy—and forget to return a call or answer an email. This often leads to problems and can even ruin a good opportunity. Here's how to repair the damage next time you drop the ball.
We receive a lot of email at Lifehacker, and we're not strangers to phone calls either. It's pretty much impossible for us to get all our work done and respond to every message we receive. Even so, I am especially bad at answering emails and calls. For better or (more often) for worse, my brain prioritizes communication last. Part of the problem is that I know it's important to respond, and (just like William S. Borroughs) I often put too much effort into a response. I'll spend a long time writing a thoughtful letter or preparing myself for a call so I'm well-informed. In my brain's sparkling, romantic view of communication—in which people still wait two weeks for a letter—I am a magnificent communicator. In reality I just suck, but that has lead to one major upside: I have a lot of practical experience in effective apologies.
Nowadays, immediacy is the norm. Cellphones offer the possibility of constant contact and app and…Read more Read
When you forget to respond to a phone call or email, chances are you're going to have an angry, or at least disappointed, individual on your hands. While you'll rarely get someone waiting by their phone or computer until you respond (or until old age claims them), they're likely counting on you and you let them down. While you can make excuses like "it ended up in my junk box" or "the call didn't show up on my phone," you can only use that method so many times. Because I actually do not receive calls on my phone the majority of the time and I have, on occasion, actually found someone's message in the junk box, I don't like to use those excuses unless they're true. First of all, when you make a mistake you kind of owe it to the other person to be honest. Second, you run the risk of sounding like a liar when you use these excuses whether they're true or not. They're just too commonly known as the sneaky way out of a communication error. This is why you need to be honest and take responsibility for your mistake.
You need to make an honest apology, but it's not always as simple as saying "I'm sorry I took ten thousand, four hundred and sixty two days to respond." In the eyes of the recipient, you're not terribly responsible. By taking responsibility for your actions, you can show that you're not as bad as they may think. Here's an example:
First of all, I want to say that I'm really sorry I am only replying to your email now. I can get a little scatterbrained when life gets busy and lose track of even more important things. I'm sorry for leaving you hanging when you've already been so nice and helpful.
This example does four things: 1) apologizes for the error, 2) notes that the apology is the most important part of the message, 3) explains the situation without making excessive excuses, and 4) ends with a compliment for good measure. A message like this shows that you're taking responsibility for your error and that you genuinely care about the recipient and your correspondance. What you say and how you word it will depend a bit on your situation, and you don't want to say anything that isn't actually true, but this is the essence of an apologetic response that'll get you back on the recipient's good side after a long period of radio silence.
Of course, it's better to just respond in a 24-hour period whenever possible or you may miss out on an opportunity. For example, a late response can take you out of the running for a job. It would be nice if we lived in a world where there wasn't such a premium placed on immediacy, but that's reality. If you feel like you're going to have trouble keeping up on calls and emails, respond as soon as possible to just let someone know that you're overwhelmed and that a proper response will be a little later than usual. If you set expectations, you'll buy yourself additional time. When all else fails, however, just keep the above apology ready to help get you out of trouble.
This post was illustrated by Dana Zemack. Check out more of her stick figure comics and follow her on Twitter.
Social GPS is a regular post about navigating the awkward and uncomfortable moments in life. If you've got a difficult social issue you'd like us to address, let us know!
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Unless you’re cold calling someone whose office is on fire, there’s a good chance they have time for you.
Nine times out of ten, “I don’t have time” is just polite-speak for “you’re not a priority right now.” If prospects were really busy, they’d simply hang up—or ignore your call altogether.
So how do you make your cold calla priority?
If prospects knew they could make $8 for every $1 spent on your product or service, would they still avoid your call?
Of course not.
On cold calls, it’s your job to demonstrate value early and often. As sales veteran Anthony Iannarino says, “The greater the perception of value, the greater the likelihood you gain a commitment that moves you forward together.”
Want to take your cold calling to the next level? Download a free book on making sales calls that win deals!
So let’s talk about two stages of the sales process where you’re most likely to hear “I don’t have time”—and discuss the ways you can provide value to your prospects.
Nobody likes getting cold called, so you’ll often get the no-time objection right away. While the average salesperson might take offense to this sort of knee-jerk reaction, a great salesperson sees this as an opportunity to move the conversation forward.
To manage this objection, try a simple, two-pronged approach.
1. Show how much you value the prospect’s time
Here’s how this conversation might go:
Prospect: “Hey, now is not the right time for me to talk about this.”
You: “I completely understand. Maybe this isn’t worth your time—the last seven people I talked to said the exact same thing at first. But after a brief conversation, they were all glad they took the time to learn more. Just give us three short minutes to figure out whether this is a wise investment of your time.”
This response covers a lot of ground:
If you’re polite, charming, and confident, most prospects will give you three more minutes to make your case.
2. Pitch to their top priorities
After you’ve bought yourself a few minutes, ask this question to identify the prospect’s needs and demonstrate your expertise:
“What’s your number-one priority right now? Because if you’re like my most successful customers in this field, your goal for next quarter is ___________.”
At this point, the key is to listen carefully. If your number-one priority doesn’t match theirs, ask follow-up questions. The more context you have, the more you can tailor your value proposition to their specific needs.
You might feel the urge to spout off a list of product features to address those priorities, but it’s way more important to ask questions. The more opportunities they have to discuss their goals, the more likely they are to stay on the line—giving you a chance to better understand what they do have time for. Plus, it shows you’re truly committed to helping them succeed.
Pro tip: One of the best ways of really internalizing this strategy is to make a lot of cold calls. Speak with a high number of prospects, and the "I don't have time"-objection will inevitably arise again and again.
Our CRM with a built-in predictive dialer will help you actually speak with more prospects on the phone than ever before possible, without having to hire more reps. Instead of wasting time listening to dial tones and ringing, sales reps can almost seamlessly move from one sales conversation to the next. Curious? Learn more here.
Now let’s talk about managing the “I don’t have time” objection in the later stages of a potential deal.
Hearing “I don’t have time” near the end of a deal is a completely different beast. The most frustrating part isn’t that prospects are ignoring you—it’s that they haven’t been ignoring you...until now. You’ve talked on the phone, exchanged emails, gave a product demo. Both of you have invested a considerable amount of time in this deal. Then, out of nowhere, they hit you with the no-time objection.
Why does this happen? Because you found a prospect who was willing to listen without being 100% convinced of your value.
They had the time. They’re just not sure you deserve any more of it.
When you hear this objection so late in the game, you’ve likely made one of two mistakes:
There’s still time to salvage a deal in this situation, but don’t rely on an email to do so. Instead, pick up the phone and say:
“Hey, I need your help. We went through this whole process and it kills me to think this was all for nothing. Can you help me understand where I went wrong?”
Most prospects will backtrack with the it’s not you, it’s me routine. People are trained to be polite, so they’ll come up with excuses that have nothing to do with you. But you need to demonstrate that you hold yourself accountable for the breakdown in communication. Here’s what you might say next:
“No, I don’t accept that. My job is to help you succeed and I’m clearly failing at that. Don’t take this responsibility away from me. How did I misunderstand your priorities? Tell me what really matters to you.”
This kind of vulnerability builds trust and encourages prospects to reciprocate your honesty, which is what you want above all else. Only then can you move past an objection to identify the problem. This is the last chance to prove your worth, so put it all on the table. Show them you truly care about their priorities—and that you’re confident your product or service can deliver real value.
If you absolutely can’t change their minds, take a step back. Refer them to another company that fits their needs and move on. Do this well and you’ll be top-of-mind the next time they’re looking for a new solution.
Great salespeople don’t push prospects into buying products and services—they help uncover value that otherwise would’ve been missed. That’s the secret to cold calling. When prospects understand the value you provide—and you address their priorities throughout the sales process—they’ll always make time for your call.
For most sales teams, the biggest challenge is to actually get prospects to speak with them on the phone. Reps waste so much time listening to dial tones, ringing, and voice mails, and not enough time actually speaking to real prospects.
With Close's predictive dialer, built right into your CRM, you can move seamlessly from one sales conversation to the next, minimizing the wait-time in between. Now, your focus shifts on actually making these conversations count, and the tips shared in this article will help you do so.
Want to become a master at overcoming common sales objections? Download your free objection management template now!
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Or, “I'm sorry, no one is available to take your call right now, could I take a Before picking up the phone, stop what you are doing, sit up straight, take a deep .
FROM: Rachel Simmons
TO: Friends, Family, Colleagues, Readers, Old Students, Current Students, Parents, Teachers, Random People I Went to High School With & Spammers
DATE: February 18, 2010
RE: The Curse of the E-Good Girl
I’m so sorry for taking this long to write you back. I was away for a few days and am digging out from the emails that piled up! It’s a giant, digital deluge.
I need to confess something: If even a few days go by without me replying to you, I start to worry. Am I making you feel bad? Am I being rude? And the most fifth grade fear of all: will you be mad at me?
I find myself apologizing constantly. “I’m sorry for the delay in replying, but…”. “Sorry it’s taken me so long.” I do it so often I can cut and paste the phrases into each email reply. One day, drowning in electronic apologies, it hit me: I have the curse of the e-Good Girl.
Sure, everybody’s got email problems. But if you’re the kind of person who worries about disappointing others, who wants to be liked, who wants to do everything right, a mounting pile of email lights your Good Girl issues up like a Christmas tree.
When I stop and think about it, I realize that letting four or five days go by before responding to you is actually not a big deal. With all the instant technology at our disposal (text! Chat! Skype!), I’ve gotten warped about what “a long time” really means. The pressure for an immediate response has gotten out of hand.
And my productivity suffers. When I’m writing back to you, I’m not working on a lesson plan or a book chapter. It’s just that answering email is so darn attractive. It offers a satisfying double hit of blazing through my to-do list and fulfilling my need to be nice and please you. (By the way, it turns out the book chapter doesn’t say thank you. It doesn’t think I’m a nice person for writing it, either).
In a highly scientific survey, I asked one of my best friends, who works in publishing, if she ever felt like this. It was Saturday morning and we were both trudging through our inbox (yes, the word “Saturday” is what is wrong with that sentence). When I asked her if she had the Curse of the E-Good Girl, I could practically hear her sit up.
“Totally,” she said. “I don’t want clients to be mad at me, I don’t want friends to be mad at me. I don’t want business associates to think I’m being disrespectful. I don’t want people to think I’m ignoring them. But by doing so, I’m making their time more important than my time.”
Hey, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe my friend and I are just Exhibit A of the research on gender and communication: women tend to communicate more socially, while men tend to adopt a more task-oriented (read: short, sweet, guilt-free, unapologetic and to the point) style.
But I’m not sold on that. Fact is, what we do in real life migrates online, Curses of Good Girls included. A 2001 New York Times article explored gender differences in e-mail. It cited the research of Dr. Susan C. Herring, a professor of information science and linguistics, who found that in online groups, “men tend to make strong assertions, disagree with others and use profanity, insults and sarcasm. By contrast, women tend to use mitigated assertions along with questions, offers, suggestions and polite expressions. They are supportive and agreeable, peppering their messages with more emoticons and representations of laughter, like ‘haha,’ ‘heehee’ and ‘lol,’ for “laughing out loud.”
The reporter also interviewed a college student who explained her need to drop everything and reply to her friends’ emails. “Even if I don’t have a lot of time, I will respond right away and be, like, `I don’t have time now, but will write a longer e-mail later,'” said the Good Girl to the Gray Lady. Hope that doesn’t mean, Even if I have a Chem final, I’ll respond right away. Or, Even if the building is on fire, I will so write you back.
This same article quotes a Rensselaer Polytechnic professor who confesses she is unable to answer emails concisely, even when a one-word answer is expected. “I say, `Yes, that’s fine,’ or `Yes, that’s O.K.’” She wonders aloud to the reporter: “Why can’t I just say no? If I know someone, I will answer even longer.” I’ve got an idea about why you can’t just say no. It starts with a C and it ends with an “Urse.”
Joking aside, I want to know: is it just me and my friend, or do you also feel the pressure to prioritize email to others over your own professional obligations? Maybe if we all talk about it, we can agree to give each other some more berth in response times and a pass on the guilt.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being the nicer, gentler sex online. Relationship building is a vital “soft skill” that gets you ahead in all areas of life. And I’m all for softening the Interwebs with my sensitivity and responsiveness. But as I often say to the girls and women I work with, when kindness comes too often at your own expense, it’s not a kindness worth having.
So here’s my plan: I want to stop feeling guilty for needing time to reply. I want to stop apologizing for the delay. I want to have days where I don’t email but instead just work on my own stuff. I don’t want to stress about what you’re thinking or feeling. You’ll be okay, and if you’re not, we’ll talk about it, right? Since, as Dr. Herring’s research shows, you’re more likely to be supportive and pepper me with emoticons.
So I’m really sorry to do this, but I need to start choosing myself, and my productivity, over a quick reply. Oh, wait, scratch that. I’m not sorry. That’s the first step.
Want to know the best alternative to the e-good girl conundrum?
“Thank you for your patience.”
I'm sorry I couldn't answer your call, I was in the middle of my psychology class. My Professor is really big on the "no cell phones in lecture policy". home to check my schedule for the next week and i see that I'm only working one day out of.