Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Telephone challenges…

Tammi writes…I'd love to hear you address this issue some time... I am a stay-at-home mom and the best time for me to make phone calls is during my toddler's nap time (once I pick up my older kids from school, I feel lucky if I get time to go to the bathroom in private, much less make professional phone calls! Homework, dinner, bath, family time, screaming toddler, etc...) Most of the time, the people I call are not home during my toddler's afternoon nap and I have to leave a message. My question is twofold... What is the best thing to say on an answering machine (don't want to sound pushy or desperate and want a way to want them to return my call)... and is it OK to call people's cell phone number even if you think they may be at work (keep in mind many are people who filled out a form at a fair and I don't know them).

Dear Tammi,
Oh boy - I remember well the days when my office hours were 1-3pm. It was naptime for my toddler, preschool time for my son and those were my office hours - period. I can also remember having the same frustrations that you are experiencing when people who I needed to talk to, weren't home. What's a mother to do? Well, here are some ideas that have been shared by some consultants in the past and also that I have used over the years that have helped with this delicate business/family balance issue.

1) One of the most successful consultants in our company built her business to over 400 consultants within her first 2 years by focusing on moving ahead her business by doing one positive thing each day. It was so successful in fact, that our company adapted it into a `battle cry' for all consultants to mirror. It was called “One a Day”. Daily, you focused on doing just one positive thing: Book a party, schedule a recruiting appointment, hold a recruiting appointment or sell some product.

2) When making contact with people ALWAYS ask them what a good daytime number is for you. And, if they are giving you their cell phone number - ask them if you have permission to use it.
3) Saturday mornings from 9am-11am is a wonderful time to reach people at home as are Sunday evenings. These were times that my husband and I `negotiated' child care.
4) On Fridays, I had a friend who I hired for three hours in the morning to take my daughter so that I could do phoning. I found that having one day a week when I was following up with those who I couldn't reach during nap time really helped.

5) I traded time for time with a friend. We would take turns watching one another's children. This way, again, I had a time other than naptime when I could reach people.

6) When leaving a message, I always tried to say something that would entice them to want to pick up the phone the next time I called or perhaps call me back. “Oh I am so sorry I missed you! There are some exciting things going on right now that I just know you'll want to hear about. Call me at: 555-5555 if you have a moment. But if I don't hear from you - I'll try you again.

7) If I have left multiple messages with no luck - then I will leave a message that says: “I am feeling like such a pest and that is the last thing I'd like to be. I know you are busy and I don't want to presume that you are no longer interested - but if you'd do me a favor and just leave me a voice mail at 555-5555 to let me know one way or the other - that would be great! Thanks. (The key is that if you tell them to leave a voice mail, then they are more likely to call because they don't think they'll get you in person.)

8) Instead of flipping on the TV on evenings when a party cancelled, I sat in the office and did my phoning anyway. This, like the Saturday morning/Sunday night calls were points of negotiation with my husband.

The bottom line is that you will have to get creative. I found that the more money I made with my business, the more cooperative my husband became in terms of co-parenting. If you are just playing with your business and it is more of a hobby that costs your family money vs. a viable money making business - you can hardly blame a spouse for being less than cooperative. OUCH…a challenging but necessary message to hear and consider.

Thanks for writing in! We love to hear from you! - TSF

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