Imagine you’ve just gotten off the phone from a lively conversation with a prospect that lasted an hour. Your purpose in having the call was to build a new business relationship or build on an established one. You both discovered you have much in common and had lots to talk about. What was expected to be a half-hour call became a delightful chat that extended to an hour. You hang up feeling really good about the personal connection you made and pat yourself on the back.
Then reality strikes. You check your calendar and realize you’re now behind schedule. Your other planned work for the day has been compromised and you’ll have to work a longer day or bump something to tomorrow. “That’s OK,” you think, “It was time well spent.”But wait, it’s not about you.
The person you were speaking with undoubtedly feels the same way. Even though they enjoyed the conversation, now they are also struggling to fulfill their commitments and maintain their work schedule.
Even though the experience felt positive, what comes next may not be so pleasant. And they will (consciously or unconsciously) blame you for their struggle.
Just because you can engage someone for a lengthy discussion, doesn’t mean you should.
I’m far from perfect in this regard. I love chatting about small business “stuff”. I could do it for hours. But since I’ve realized the impact on the other person, I work at making my phone conversations more precise… and more productive.
My friend, The Phone Lady, suggests creating an agenda (perhaps a simple bullet list) that you can use to keep yourself on track. Now I rarely have a call where I don’t have a short list of things to be covered. Doing this has made a huge difference in the quality and productiveness of my phone conversations.