If you are in a relationship-driven business, as financial services is, you must still master the phone.

There are a million reasons to believe that using the telephone is a futile way to set an appointment. 

Two years ago at MDRT a main platform speaker waved his phone in the air and announced “This is DEAD!”  Several attendees who knew me made a point of repeating this pronouncement. 

My reaction? Just a wise smile. 

At every seminar, my group has “the conversation” about emailing, texting and phoning. It seems that in our highly technological world, the phone is at the bottom of the heap, destined to be buried in the near future.

Smartphones have certainly changed the way we communicate, but don’t start the sad bagpipes yet.  The personal phone call — the-human-talking-to-human — is not dead.  And its imminent demise is up for discussion.

Emails certainly have their place in our world.  Many clients prefer emails as a way of getting in touch and huge numbers of people ignore the sound of a ringing phone. 

(There is irony in the fact that so many people have their new smartphone programmed to mimic old ringing telephones). 

I agree with the fact that we may need to email someone to get their attention —initially.  But I still believe that if you are in a relationship-driven business, as financial services is, you must still master the phone. 

How to balance all of this is the challenge.

I’m sure I’ll get lots of emails from you about this, but I think that many 20-somethings are overly tied to their QWERTY keyboards and not connected enough to other humans. 

It has become a generational battle to find the happy medium between technology and person-to-person conversations.  We are a human-driven business. We are a highly trusted adviser.  People don’t work with a financial professional unless they feel that person truly cares about them.  Nothing replaces voice inflection and too many emails get misunderstood because they have none. Using emails to initially get someone’s attention is fine. But it should be used to request a time when you can actually SPEAK TO the person. 

If you personally know a person and email them that you want an appointment, are they aware it is a professional appointment? Do they know what you intend to talk about? 

For people you don’t know well, emails may be the only way to get the person to even know who you are and they can be great for an introduction from a client to a new prospect. But from there, you should request a time to speak on the phone.

It’s critical to be able to call another person, tell them why you called, why you are suggesting an appointment and what’s in it for them. I agree this may be an age-related fight, but I will continue to cajole, debate and argue with my younger seminar attendees about the nature of a financial career and its inherent humanity.

We are not a tech-based business.  We are a person and family-based business that uses technology at times.  Reducing the relationship to an impersonal email does not get it off to the right start.  Learn how to talk to folks on the phone and the results will bear witness to my argument.

It can be a brave new world, but it’s still inhabited by people.

Keep Smilin’ and Dialin’

 

Read also these columns by Gail Goodman:

Diagnosing your lack of appointments: 7 possible reasons

Getting the appointment: Use a well-practiced script

Phone language versus selling language