Phone Call Savvy for Everyone Who Uses a Phone!

An important part of building good business relationships is to give the impression of being a confident professional that clients and co-workers will be eager to have on their team. The way you speak over the telephone coveys approximately 85% of your  message. Build a reputation as a highly professional business. Present the best possible company image by keeping staff informed on proper phone coverage .  Below is a sample script you can follow:

Please advise Jake that I must speak with him before Thursday regarding his estimate on the costs associated with getting the Diamond Widget account set up.  What is his schedule like between now and Thursday?

(The assistant informs you that he is only available between 10:45 and 12:00 noon today and is then out of town until Thursday morning.)

Let him know that I’m available at 10:50 and I’ll write him in my calendar.  If I’m away from my office when he calls, please tell him to have me paged because it’s critical that we speak before he leaves on his business trip.

You then inform your office that you’re expecting an important call from Jake and that if he calls, you need to be paged.  You absolutely must talk with him. To convey the utmost in professionalism, follow the tips below:

  • Always say, “May I tell him/her who is calling?” rather than “Who’s calling?”
  • If you need to transfer someone, be sure to say, “I will connect you to Mary Jones, who will be able to help you”. Avoid saying “transfer” which makes people feel like they’re getting the runaround.
  • Always ask permission to put someone on hold.
  • Repeat names, phone numbers and pertinent information slowly and clearly.
  • Important! Watch your opening statements and tone of voice as you immediately set the tone and where the conversation will go.
  • Visualize the person to remind you that you are engaged in a two-way conversation and that this person is your #1 priority.
  • Check your body language and facial expression.  Energy, frustration or any other mindset will be transferred.  Emotions are often irrational while you are focused on a rational solution.
  • Inform the individual as to when you will have an answer or be getting back to them.  Always keep your word to call back at that time, even if you need to let them know that you’re still working on a solution and when you will call back again.

Why Small Business is Big Business

“Great” thought leaders are always willing to help out the next high growth business. But is that the right direction? According to Kelly Edmiston, a senior economist in Community Affairs at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, economic development experts are abandoning traditional approaches to economic development that rely on recruiting large enterprises with tax breaks, financial incentives, and other inducements. Instead, they are relying on building businesses from the ground up and supporting the growth of existing enterprises.

Here are some amazing facts about small businesses.

  • A small business is generally described as an independent company having fewer than 500 employees. (Small Business Administration). For the small business definition by industry used in government programs and contracting, see www.sba.gov/content/small‐business‐size‐standards. There are an estimated 27 million small businesses in the United States. (Census Bureau)
  • America’s small businesses are the engines of job creation. Small businesses employ about half of all private sector employees and create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product. (Small Business Administration)
  • Generally, 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs come from small businesses. This number fluctuates year‐ by‐year when some small companies grow enough to become classified as large firms, and when new businesses are created. For example, from 1999 to 2000, small businesses accounted for 75 percent of all new jobs created. Small businesses have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. (Small Business Administration)
  • The so‐called “gazelle” firms (ages three to five years) comprise less than one percent of all companies, yet generate roughly 10 percent of new jobs in any given year. The “average” firm in the top one percent of all companies contributes 88 jobs per year, and most end up with between 20 and 249 employees. (Kauffman Foundation)
  • Small businesses are innovators. They produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large firms. (Small Business Administration)
  • From 1992 through 2010, small businesses outperformed large firms in net job creation 75% of the time, according to the latest the SBA Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Economy 2011 report (released March 21, 2012).
  • The U.S. ranks 13th in ease of starting a business in the world according to a World Bank report. In 2007, the U.S. ranked 3rd.
  • Total revenues from non-employers hit $989.6 billion in 2011 Census Bureau, up 4.1% from the year before

What is the Plan?

If you are already in business, stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are my company’s strengths?
  • Do I clearly understand my market niche or position?
  • What business am I in—what is my product or service?
  • How do I measure success?
  • What are my short-term goals?
  • Who are my customers?
  • Who are my competitors?

If you are ready to launch your small business enterprise, get a copy of South Pacific and pay close attention to Bloody Mary when she sings “you gotta have a dream—if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true?” She is the epitome of a homegrown successful entrepreneur selling island goods and services to American Seabees on a remote Polynesian island during World War II (her specialty product is grass skirts). Mary’s “dream” is her marketing plan and she implements it with great bravado, resulting in substantial financial gain.

If you’ve been in business for some time, are you implementing a marketing plan? Do you know what a marketing plan looks like? If you are not achieving your financial goals, it may be an indication that a plan is needed.

A marketing plan need not be a 30-page academic and theoretical document, which probably will sit on a shelf collecting dust. Your plan must be flexible and dynamic, responsive to changing market conditions. However, you do need one—even if it is a one-page summary.

Ready to build that marketing plan:Check out the book “Small Business Guide to Marketing Basics