How to Combine Phone Calls with Digital Options – Tip #1

woman talking on the phone while writing

There’s a quote from a Canadian CEO who participated in my 2024 Report on Phone Communication Trends that I’m continually thinking about: “It can be confusing to understand when to call or text versus email or video calls … . People need help understanding where the phone fits in with their sequences … .”

This makes perfect sense to me, and is fully supported by the training and coaching I’ve done for the past eight years. For someone who’s relied primarily on email or text to communicate, how do they know when to incorporate a phone call?

Efficiency and clarity are two primary reasons for choosing a phone call over email. This is applicable, for example, when booking a meeting or event and needing to navigate multiple constraints. Email can certainly start this conversation, but as soon as multiple messages go back and forth over dates and times, the inefficiency of email takes over.

How does a phone call help in this situation? When would you call? What would you say?

The Case for Phone Calls

Here’s a story that illustrates what I mean: Recently a team member from a long-standing client emailed me about delivering a workshop. They mentioned that it was a last-minute request and provided two possible dates within the next two weeks. I replied quickly, letting them know that I was unavailable on those dates.

If this had been the end of the conversation, then an email was a perfectly acceptable way to communicate. However, they replied with two additional options, which also didn’t work with my schedule.

This is where a phone call should have taken place. It didn’t. No phone number was included in the client’s email. I knew it was a remote work situation. It was the weekend. And I didn’t follow my own best advice. I should have replied, “Let’s jump on a quick call on Monday,” and provided my phone number.

All of us, including myself, get into the rhythm (I actually think of it as an addiction) of hitting reply immediately, both with text and email. And this impacts our ability to create both efficiency and clarity. I should have taken a breath, broken the spell of clicking on keys, and asked for a phone conversation.

Instead, I looked at the next several weeks in my calendar and sent back my existing availability. Four more emails were exchanged to set the date and time. The content details of the workshop still need to be verified.

The Takeaway

In my experience, a phone call of less than 10 minutes would have allowed both myself and my client to view our calendars at the same time, choose the date, discuss the content, and verify the fee.

Yes, there would have been some social chatter. Contrary to what some might think, this bit of conversation would have added to the value of the phone call. It would support and strengthen our long-term relationship and still allow us to “get the job done” faster than eight emails.

What’s your reaction to this scenario? Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How do you decide when to make a call versus sending an email or a text? Share your experiences and strategies in the comments below so we can learn from each other.

Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

6 thoughts on “How to Combine Phone Calls with Digital Options – Tip #1”

  1. Definitely easier to pick up the phone in the example you gave. I run into this very often. It’s also easier to accomplish end results when using the phone over email

    Reply
    • Thanks, Scott. It definitely saves time and also allows for other information to be shared that can move a project along faster, uncover a new opportunity to work together, etc.

      Reply
  2. Great topic, and it has come up / been discussed with several clients lately. I am starting to get more phone calls, and starting to make more phone calls, as we ( myself and clients) both understand /acknowledge that a brief phone call can save 6 -10 emails, finalize the task/issue and move on to the next. How do I know when to pick up the phone? I can see when a timely resolution is necessary and emails are ineffective. I’ve also had years of experience in the sales/customer service industry. When I do phone, clients are always as “relieved” as I am to resolve and move on 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Diana. I appreciate that you’ve shared that your clients are “relieved” to resolve and move on. Absolutely!

      Reply
  3. To me, this is the big question with modern communication – when to email, or text, or call….

    For me, I call if I know the person will have a response to my call on the spot – a question I might have, or their opinion about something. Also, urgency plays into my decision to call.

    If I know that the person will need to think about or look up something to respond, I send an email. I also use email to follow up on calls to ensure a record of our discussion. Another use of email is when broadcasting information to several people or to send detailed information to someone.

    I never text for business. Keeping records is next to impossible and far too informal. It is also far too difficult to control autocorrect. I can’t imagine a medical doctor or lawyer sending texts, and so I don’t either.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Mick. This is valuable for all of us working to find balance between words on a screen and real-time conversations.

      Reply

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