December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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16 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 Vince DiCecco is a dynamic and sought-after seminar speaker and author with a unique perspective on busi- ness development and management subjects, primarily in the decorated and promotional apparel industries. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, he is presently an independent consultant to various apparel decorating businesses looking to im- prove profitability and sharpen their competitive edge. Visit his new website at, and send email to YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS TRAINER B Y V I N C E D I C E C C O H ow many times a day do you try to reach an important business contact and hear a voicemail greeting like this? "Hi. You've reached the voicemailbox for Gordon Mat- thews. I am not available to take your call, but it is important to me. At the tone, please leave me your name, number, and a brief mes- sage. I'll return your call as soon as possible. (BEEP)" What do many of us do? Too often, we do the absolute wrong thing, a thing that nearly guarantees we won't get a return call: we leave a rambling, ill-prepared, uninspiring message. Is it any surprise that our batting average for getting timely replies is dismally close to that of a third-string pitcher forced to hit in the playoffs? How about raising your response rate to warrant induction into the Voicemail Hall of Fame? There are a few simple ways to improve your effectiveness in using Gordon Matthews's 1979 invention. (Fun fact: Matthews happens to hold the US patent for voicemail.) So let's try a few on for size. GET THE MESSAGE Voicemail is the next most effective means of communicating with another person if a face-to-face meeting or real-time phone con- versation is not possible or practical. A voice- mail message is superior to an email, text message, snail-mail letter, and even a message you may ask an administrative assistant to pass along. Why? It's because such a message includes your actual voice and its tonal inflec- tions, rather than mere words. Neuro-linguistic studies have concluded that the tone of a message is more than five times as important as the actual words used. Unfor- tunately, when leaving a voicemail message in haste, the tone of one's voice can inadvertently convey various undesirable underlying mean- ings, such as nervousness, uncertainty, fear, nega- tivity, or impatience. Efficient use of telephone technology is a re- quired business skill these days. Taking a minute to plan that important call will undoubtedly result in a more coherent, effective voicemail message if you are unable to speak to your party directly. In fact, "choreographing" such a call could be as important as its content. What constitutes good planning? It could be as simple as answer- ing a few self-directed questions. Grab a pad of paper and jot down your thoughts to these questions: • Within the first 15 seconds, how could I professionally and courteously encourage this person to shift their attention from daily tasks to the reason for my call? • What is my purpose for the call? What do I want the receiver to do and know, and how do I expect him to feel as a result of my call? • How can I concisely present the benefits or rewards of return- ing my call? Or, if more appropriate, how could I thoughtfully explain the risks involved in not taking action on my message? If designing a template to fashion a consistent structure for your voicemail messages will help you develop long-lasting habits, then create one. Some of the most common components of a well-built message include identifying yourself, stating the reason for the call, a brief preview of your key points, the presentation of your key points, a quick summary of what should happen next, and a heartfelt thank you. MORE IS LESS, LESS IS MORE Your professionalism and conversational delivery within the first few sentences of your message will determine whether the person you called is moved toward action or toward sending you to the deleted messages graveyard. Studies indicate many voicemailbox owners will abandon a sig- nificant portion of incoming messages in the first 15 to 20 seconds—or, put another way, not even halfway through most of them. A short, helpful greeting in a friendly tone is always business-appropriate. When you consistent- ly offer a well-paced, upbeat start to a voicemail, you politely grab the attention of the person and can hold it for the duration of your message. Consider something like this: Leave Your Message After The Beep Earn a Better Response Rate from Your Voicemail Messages

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