Prioritize your calls. Then try to figure out the best time to call—and if you need to talk with a person. Here are some suggestions for saving time on every call you have to make:
Plan every call before you pick up the phone: That’s the smartest way to save time on calls you make. Write down the points to cover and prepare all necessary information. Know how long you expect to take for your points. Keep the call focused.
Anticipate any questions they might have: The other person is likely to ask and prepare an answer, along with any information needed. You’ll seem more professional and save time.
Keep your call focused: Check the time before calling and then keep track while you’re on the phone. Specifically:
- Start by giving your reason(s) for calling—and then mention your key points in order of importance and stick with them.
- When you’ve achieved the goal(s) of your call, politely end the call.
- Summarize the call and ask, “Does that cover everything?” Then, my favorite, say, “I know you’re really busy, so I’m going to let you go.”
Make telephone appointments: If the other person is too busy to talk, make an appointment to call back. Write it down—and make sure that the other person writes it down, too.
By planning your call before you pick up the phone, you will be better prepared to leave a short, specific message with a deadline for them to call you back if appropriate. When you leave a voice mail, keep your message short—15 to 30 seconds; otherwise they won’t call you back. Speak slowly and clearly.
Here are four more suggestions for making phone calls:
Set aside specific times to make calls: Batch your calls so they take less time. Make the most important calls in the morning. Batch lower-priority calls from 11:30 a.m. to noon and at the end of the day. People are quicker on the phone before lunch and before they’re leaving for the day. Return all voice mail messages within 24 hours, the same day if possible.
Make notes on your Master List: When you talk on the phone, keep track, especially of agreements and commitments, for future reference.
Choose voice mail if possible: If someone offers to take a message, ask for voice mail so you can leave a more detailed message and it will get through accurately: “It would probably be easier for you if I could leave a voice mail message.”
Return all calls from salespeople: Leave a message that you’re not interested or you’ll call if interested. This should eliminate future calls from those people— a good investment of a few seconds.
If you’re calling to provide or request information and don’t need to speak with the other person, try to pick a time when he or she won’t be there, so you can just leave a message.
“On average, an unplanned phone call takes five minutes longer than one that has been planned. Planning a phone call can be as easy as a 30-second outline of what you want to say or ask.”