You just called a client to wish a quick happy birthday.
Forty-five minutes later, you’re listening to Janet tell you about her grandson’s first soccer goal.
A good deed gone sour.
Sometimes, you have places to go, people to see, and insurance to sell.
Here are 4 things you can do to get away from a client when you need to.
1. The weasel
If you’re just giving quick call, say what you need to say, and weasel your way out.
Here’s the formula for what to say:
“[Greeting], I really don’t want to keep you, I know you’re [whatever client is doing; if not known, substitute the word “busy”], but I just wanted to [whatever the purpose of the call is].
For example, if you’re calling a client on their birthday, say something like this: “Hey, I really don’t want to keep you, I know you’re busy, but I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”
If you’re calling a client to update them on the status of their application, it’s the same concept. “Listen, I really don’t want to keep you, I know you’re getting ready to move, but I just wanted to give you that quick update.”
Works every time.
2. The pre-defined period
This works best if you’re meeting a client for an appointment, a lengthier phone call, or any conversation that will probably last longer than 15 minutes.
When you schedule the appointment, make the length of it clear.
For example, “Alright, Ms. Jackson, I have you down for our 1-hour appointment on next Thursday at 2 o’clock.”
If you’re jumping on a call to finish up an application or something of that nature, begin the call like this: “Hey, I’m so glad you’ve blocked out some time to finish this up with me. It should only take about 20 minutes or so.”
The pre-defined period also works well in conjunction with the weasel, especially if time is running out and there seems to be no end in sight.
3. The quick closer
When you’re ready to close a conversation, use a short word and adjust your inflection to signal completion.
For example, the word “alright” said in a pitch slightly higher than your regular talking voice signals that you’re ready to go.
Extra points if it’s slightly louder and somewhat sing-songy. Go ahead. Try it.
Another good word is “well.”
For example, “Well… sounds good!”
The way the word is said almost sounds like, “Welp!” The mouth closes abruptly at the end of the word. Try saying the word in both ways — “well” and “welp.”
Do you sense the finality of the latter?
It’s the universal signal that the conversation is closing up.
See it in action here:
It’s even better if you use one of these closers with a statement about the next steps.
For example, “Well, I think I have everything I need. I’ll submit this application and will let you know the verdict as soon as I can.”
4. The one-sider
If you just need to relay some information to a client, and they don’t answer the phone call, it can be tricky.
You leave your voicemail, and an array of unsavory things can happen:
- You risk missing their call back
- You play an annoying game of phone tag
- You get stuck on the phone before an important meeting
The easy way to avoid this is to give a one-sided voicemail.
Here’s how it works.
“Hi Mr. Johnson, I wanted to give you a quick call to wish you a happy birthday. Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you. Don’t worry about returning the call — just enjoy your day! Alright, talk to you later. Bye.”
The key line here is “don’t worry about returning the call.” However, make sure to sandwich it between two nice statements to ensure it isn’t taken the wrong way.
You can see in the example above that the key line is surrounded by “I was thinking of you” and “enjoy your day.”
This is a surefire way to make sure your client gets your message while avoiding any callback problems.
Do you have any stories? Put them in the comments below!