We have already talked about following up on other occasions, and today, I would like to focus on a typical situation: you call somebody and there is an answering machine. As you expected to talk to a person on the other side, you might hesitate, go blank or decide to hang up and call back later.
You don’t know if that person cannot pick up the phone, is ignoring it or talking to someone else.
Well, I’m going to give you some guidelines that will solve your doubts and make the follow-up process much faster and much less uncomfortable in such situations. It is about always having a plan B.
Let’s start with a typical scene: you call somebody and bump into an answering machine. Instead of hanging up, leave a message telling you will call back another time. Look at your schedule and try to make it the next day about the same time, if possible. The other person should hear the message. They can call you back or wait for the agreed time, when, hopefully, they will answer.
If they answer the call, it’s great, so take the opportunity to say that you left a message making a new appointment because you understood that the person was busy with something important. Say it confidently, because there is no proof that it’s not so, it really could have happened. That person may want to share the reason for their absence or not, the important thing is that you talk as you have agreed.
But what if they don’t answer?
Well, be patient and have good manners. That person may be ignoring you, but to be fair, they may not really be able to answer the phone. If you bump into the answering machine for the third time, in your next voice message, instead of simply proposing another time to talk, ask if everything is going well and remind that they can talk to you about matters other than the business, get some support. It’s not a matter of always thinking the worst, but of keeping the mind open and be empathic. We don’t know what is happening in the lives of others. Tell them to let you know if everything is okay.
If the person returns the call, at least it means that they don’t want to get you worried or that they understand that it’s not very professional to ignore calls without any reason. If they don’t call you ever, well, keep in touch with the other people on your list and tick that phone number red, because you will probably not call anymore.
If the person does answer the phone, but at least three times in a row, they tell you they haven’t had time to think about the proposal, that moment or that week isn’t good for them and they always say “we’ll talk next week “, most likely they won’t get past that point. Press a little or let it go.