Many salespeople find themselves ‘on message’ 24-7 with their business mobile phones nowadays.
The dilemma is that whilst mobile phones have proved a blessing to busy salespeople on the move, if used inappropriately, they can be highly annoying and disruptive. So it’s important to practice good etiquette in terms of what you should and shouldn't’t do when considering using your mobile phone when with a client or colleagues out ‘in the field’.
In fact, rude or improper use of a mobile phone can cost you considerably when it comes to business and many a deal has been called off because of things like meetings constantly being interrupted by a person making or taking a mobile call.
Here are 7 situations to reflect upon when considering using your mobile in business.
1. In Sales Meetings – update your voicemail message
If you are in a meeting, ensure that your mobile is switched off or its ring tone put on silent during the meeting. Don’t be tempted to put it on vibrate and leave it in your pocket. If it vibrates, that could be heard by other participants in the meeting which is just as likely to be as annoying, if not more so, than listening to a ring tone.
Don’t answer or make calls or text or respond to texts during a meeting. In fact, a good habit to get into before you go into a meeting is to ask yourself,
“Do I really need to take my mobile phone into this meeting with me?”
If you can’t answer that positively, then you should probably switch it off.
Even if your mobile is on silent, don’t leave it out on the table during a meeting. Meetings are part and parcel of business with colleagues and clients. You’re not going to lose business just because you can’t make or receive a call for an hour or so.
Better still, I notice some of my colleagues update their voicemail message stating that that are currently in a meeting and therefore, they can’t take calls but that they’ll return any calls as soon as the meeting is over. It is something I am going to start doing.
I f you have absolutely no choice but to take a particular call during a meeting, have the courtesy to explain and forewarn your buyer(s) before you start, then when you receive a call discreetly excuse yourself from the room.
As a courtesy to those whose meeting you have left tell your caller that you are with people so you will have to keep their call brief.
When answering a call always state your name so that your caller knows they’ve reached the right person. “Hello this is Hugh” or “Hugh speaking” will be sufficient.
If someone has caught you at an inconvenient time, politely tell them so, and that you will call them back later don’t put them before what you are presently involved with doing unless it’s absolutely necessary.
2. When receiving a call hands free in the car – look no hands!
If you are driving along with other colleagues or clients and have your phone on hands free * (note point 7 on company policy below), make sure that you tell the caller that you are with other people in the car as they may prefer to call you when it is more private.
Hands free speaker phone modes often have slight delays in conversation which can make the conversation sound mannered or distorted which might be disconcerting as well as causing you or the caller to miss hearing some important information.
3. Business Lunches – if you are ‘doing lunch’ – Do Lunch!
You should treat a business lunch as if it were a meeting. Often it is the case where business is being conducted albeit in an informal out of office setting. So don’t take calls in the middle of a business lunch.
(Even Debretts “Etiquette and Modern Manners” apparently suggests you leave your mobile at the reception desk of the restaurant where the ‘Maitre d’ can call you away if it is urgent. Not sure I would be happy to leave my phone at reception in some of the places I have to eat or even have a Maitre d !)
4. Answering someone else’s mobile – who am I speaking to?
I f you have been asked to answer a colleague’s phone make sure you answer it something on the line “ Hi Jo’s phone . This is Hugh”. Unlike an office or switchboard number the caller expects the number (s)he is calling is going to be the owner of the mobile.
5. In public places – careless talk costs business
Nowadays I do a lot of travel on trains and planes. I am always amazed how indiscreet salespeople are when speaking on their mobile phone in such public arenas. In the past few weeks I have heard details of itemised ‘day’s takings’ for a nationwide change of retail outlets, details of personal finance of a named client, details of names of candidates for recruitment of sales positions, and even strategies for a presentation mentioning tactics about competitive bidders for a big ticket pitch.
Not only could you be breaking company and client confidentiality but you could also end up annoying and distracting others.
Lately I have witnessed some quite aggressive behaviour in nominated Quiet Coaches on Virgin Trains where people using phones have been subjected to vocal reprimands for using their phone in the carriage rather taking their calls in the interconnecting carriage vestibules.
6. Taking a photograph – A picture paints a thousand words but...
Most phones have cameras these days, sometimes it can be very useful for salespeople to take shots of sites, equipment, contacts etc. Clearly it is polite to ask permission of the person you intend to photograph first.
7. Check your company’s policy on mobiles and your clients’.
It is always worth checking with reception and security on clients’ premises whether mobiles can be taken onto the premises. This is not just sensible for Defence Site, Government Buildings but I have found that certain call centres ban their staff from using mobiles on site.
Also you may need to check whether your company car insurers permit you to take and make call using hand free equipment whilst driving.
Has anyone else got any other suggestions for better etiquette for mobile usage by salespeople ? Please add your comments.