Our business and personal lives would come to a halt without engaging in timely communications. Now I agree wholeheartedly that we cannot communicate with every one that attempts to communicate with us. Personally, I receive in excess of 100 spam e-mails a day and have carefully created around 1000 filters to catch and delete (after a quick review) just about every conceivable piece of garbage that enters my in-box. I am looking forward to the day when our high speed internet providers charge clients by usage instead of flat monthly fees, in order to wipe out the spammers who send millions of e-mails for the same usage fee that I pay for the few legitimate e-mails I send out daily.
Notwithstanding the spam we receive, there are lots of important e-mails and phone messages that fall on deaf ears and never get answered, which contain legitimate inquiries about conducting business. Recently I tried purchasing a laptop, asking a manufacturer in an e-mail for some clarification on the rpm's of the hard drive which was not listed in their ad. Their lack of a response cost them a $1500 sale. A couple of years ago, it cost a Toyota Car Dealer the sale on two vehicles, because their salesman who I dealt with before, never returned either my e-mail or voice messages for a couple of days. And the grand daddy of my experiences was when a real estate salesperson never called me back at the time promised, and lost the sale on a house I purchased. These were all lost opportunities that could have resulted in closed sales, with more timely communications.
How many times have you departed from a meeting, and someone said one of the following parting statements: "I'll call you"; "I'll e-mail you"; "I'll let you know"; "I'll get back to you." And it just doesn't happen. If you are like me, the credibility of the individuals making these false statements drops down like a falling star. I don't care what title; background or accomplishments these people have. If they can't get back to me as promised, I want very little to do with them in the future. And I will go out of my way and even pay more for a product or service that they were providing, in order to avoid them.
I believe that opportunities in life are created by individuals who have excellent communication skills. It's wonderful if you can communicate effectively one on one; or when necessary to a room of 500 people at once. These are powerful skills to hone over your lifetime. However, I believe that excellent follow-up skills are just as important as those in-your-face communications. You can stand before someone and convince them to purchase your product. However if you can't follow-up and deliver like a pro, you will lose the business in the end.
Here are some simple tips, to facilitate communicating in a timely fashion:
Only promise to call back or follow up in any way, when you absolutely plan on doing so
Make phone appointments to avoid playing phone-tag
Be specific on appointment times, for example - Tuesday 05/29/07 at 9:33 am
If you set a time to call someone, Call EXACTLY on time
Establish an unblemished reputation on your follow-up record with everyone
Check e-mails as often as possible and reply as quick as possible
Never put off an important communication, since you'll probably forget it if you do
Leave nothing to chance by following up with clear, concise, messages
Take pride in your e-mail communications by using proper spelling, spacing, grammar, fonts, lower case, salutations, etc; everything counts....your pride and reputation are both at stake
Always keep improving your communication skills each and every day
There's no excuse for ever dropping the ball in communicating with important people in your life. And when it comes to prospects in business, you will never know how important some prospects can become, if you choose to ignore their communications. We have all heard the stories of book publishers that ignored or turned down an author, only to have that author's book become a phenomenal success when it was published by their competitor. Or I'm sure you heard the stories of the giant record labels that ignored the Beatles or the movie producers that ignored Sylvester Stallone when he was trying to sell his first Rocky movie.
Our world is full of ignorant people who think they are either too good or too busy to follow-up with requests. Don't join that crowd. Always return communications like a pro!