The One New Year’s Resolution Every Business Person Should Make… And Keep

In the pursuit of every pitch and proposal comes the inevitable follow-up phone call… and the predictable frustration that follows.

You have a meeting; you talk over objectives, needs and points of pain. With positive words and head nods, there seems to be a connection. You create and submit your plan and wait the requisite week for response to look professional, but not over eager. With no word, you place the call about next steps and…. nothing. Another week slips by. Then you’re like Lt. Uhrua on Star Trek. All hailing frequencies open. Emails and phone calls ensue. What you get in return is dead space.

You scratch your head, wondering what possibly went wrong. Odds are you’ll never find out because, for whatever reason, you’re out of the running. The prospect is no longer interested, and for some so-called professionals, it means you might as well have never existed.

Just what makes it so hard for business people to promptly return emails and phone calls? It’s my number one pet peeve.

Too busy? Sorry, we’re ALL busy. Don’t care to deliver bad news? Too bad. This is business. Not only is this silence bad etiquette, it harms reputations. Take a few seconds and think about your last non-responsive prospect. Yeah, I thought so.

You’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of behavior and you know how it feels. You’d like it if that the person you were perusing showed class and professional courtesy. So here is my suggestion: make 2012 the Year of the Return Phone Call. Now, this does not mean EVERY call. Unsolicited messages don’t count; just the people with whom you purposely engage. If the person or business you were talking to with so much interest isn’t selected or if there is a delay in your decision-making process, make sure to call him or her back.  Not only will you look professional, you’ll cut down on the amount of calls you’ll receive.

So, if you cringe at every voicemail you get, make it stop. Respond back and tell them why there will be no deal. Ten seconds later, you’ve rid yourself of one more unimportant call and come off looking like a decent human being for having done something so few people these days have the courage — and the courtesy — to do.