Last month I agreed to help a colleague book meetings with SaaS (software as a service) companies, primarily in California. This is work I enjoy and I’m able (usually) to deliver excellent results. Also “working the phone” allows me to identify new communications trends and behaviours. While I can’t attach the word “success” to this project, it definitely revealed some startling truths about our relationship with the telephone.
What did I discover in these recent calls? What does it mean for the future of phone communication?
For the past 11 years I’ve been involved in a wide variety of “cold calling” projects. As my teaching schedule has expanded, I’ve reduced my time on the phone, but still taken on one or two of these projects a year to make sure my skills align with market conditions. This year has presented me with my biggest learning curve yet.
I made calls to 26 SaaS companies. Detailed research had been done on each of them; I had a contact name, title and phone number. I clearly understood what they did and my client’s value to their growth and prosperity. Traditionally, making 26 calls would result in a minimum of 4 detailed conversations and at least 1 meeting booked. Not this time!
Only 6 of these companies had employee-specific voicemail allowing me to leave a message (no one called me back). At the other 20 companies I encountered:
- No voicemail at all – a phone ringing into space;
- A dial-by-name directory that took me to voicemail with no name attached to it;
- A dial-by-name directory that took me to an employee’s voicemail that was full, unable to receive more messages;
- A dial-by-name directory that did not include our contact, or any executive at the company;
- An answering service that was only able to accept minimal information;
- A receptionist that would only connect me if he could find me in the company’s database;
- Helpful staff who had no idea how to reach the executive I was calling.
While it’s tempting to dismiss this as trend specific to SaaS, I know this isn’t the case. Due to our constant state of overwhelm, more and more companies are labeling phone calls as unnecessary distractions/intrusions, and beginning to limit access. We will start to see specific distinctions between companies that embrace phone communication and those that don’t, and the types of clients each attracts and keeps.
I’ll be sharing more research on this in the New Year (yes, it is just around the corner). In the meantime, do share your thoughts. What choice will you make – or have you made – about the role of the phone in your company?
P.S. Many thanks to those of you who responded, publicly and privately, to last week’s post. Do know that David and I are doing very well. Like all Nova Scotians, we are deeply concerned about our health care system and want to contribute to creating something more accessible and compassionate for the future.