Talent Acquisition

Hello Phone My Old Friend

It’s a funny recruitment world we live in these days. Funny, in that so many new consultants (and to be fair the managers who teach them) have grown up in a world dominated by email, and online recruitment systems. Funny, for those of us who grew up in a world of desk phones, private incoming phone lines, and fax machines.

When I talk like this I feel really old, but in lots of ways, I feel sad too. It’s not nostalgia that makes me feel this way. I feel sad for the solid sales skills that are being lost, the confidence-building practices that are disappearing and the influence and persuasion skills that aren’t being learned.

Gone are the niceties of speaking with people. Gone is the ability to understand, influence and sell. Gone is the opportunity to differentiate and build real relationships with clients. Gone….

Hang on a minute. That’s not true. None of these things are gone at all, they are just not being used as well, or as often.

I have a really simple view on this. Email is great and has many, many advantages over the now antiquated technologies of post and fax. It’s fast, it is effective, it is cheap. It is not a replacement for the telephone, and it is certainly not a means to have a real conversation. And please don’t get me started on using it as a cold calling alternative……

When I was a very new consultant, I was sent to meet one of the company’s top billing temps consultants and he taught me a very simple lesson. He said “listen, it’s really simple. You pick up the phone, and money comes out of it”.

You pick up the phone, and money comes out of it.

Was there ever a statement, so well put, so simple or so true.

Phone skills are an incredibly important part of a consultants skills toolkit. In my mind, they should be the first skills taught. Learn to love the phone. Use it as a means of introduction, a door opener, use it to keep in touch with people, use it build relationships. Use it whenever the urge comes to email.

The best tool for the job is the best tool for the job. Before you reach for a keyboard, please stop and think. What is the best way to achieve what I want to achieve? If it’s the phone, pick it up. If it’s the keyboard, then go ahead. But, be honest with yourself. Are you typing to avoid having to call? And, if so, what’s stopping you?

When I walk into one of my client’s offices and all I can hear is people talking on the phone, invariably the fee boards on the walls look very healthy too.

When I walk into a client’s office and all I can hear is clicking on keyboards, the fee boards are often empty too.

Co-incidence? Of course not.

About the author: James Nathan runs the James Nathan experience; the Business Development, Sales and Service Excellence Expert for Professional Recruiters.

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