What If They Don’t Answer The Phone?

Here’s a common scenario I’m sure you’ve faced:

You call a potential partner multiple times hoping to get a face-to-face appointment, but you just cant seem to get them on the phone. You’ve called different times of the day but it’s just not working. Your frustrated and you’ve reached a level of voicemails that seems too close to stalker mode to try again.

How do you proceed? When is it time to switch means of communication and try to reach them another way? When is it time to stop trying to connect all together? Below is some advice I hope you find helpful!

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VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS

To begin, if you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach their voicemail, my advice is to hang up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again within a day or two without need for explanation.

If you call the 2nd time and don’t reach them, leave a voicemail and communicate the following:

  1. If you sent an invitation letter first, tell them that you were calling in reference to the invitation letter you sent them a week ago and would love to connect with them further. If you are calling without prior context (no letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly with no explanation.
  2. When communicating don’t give too much information on the phone or on voicemail – make it brief!
  3. Tell them that YOU will be calling them back at another time and hope to reach them. Also mention that they can call you back. This gives you the ability to call them again without feeling awkward or demanding and puts the ball in your court. (you always want the ball in your court!)

Here’s what my voicemail may say to someone I want to invite if I haven’t sent them a letter:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are doing well. Hey I was wanting to talk briefly. I may call you back later, but if you have a second please call me back first.” 

Here’s a voicemail to someone I have sent a letter to first:

“Hi Julie, this is Jenn. Hope you are well. Hey wanting to talk briefly in reference to that letter I sent. I’ll give you a call back, but if you have a second please call me back first. Thanks!” 

636095868639176352-1100213583_GTY_texting_kab_150729_12x5_1600TEXTING

If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them. In the text ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text

I know, texts seem so much easier than phone calls. So why do I (and other financial partnership coaches out there) advise not texting for appointments? One major reason is it’s harder to say no to someone when they are asking for something verbally. Reading a text or Facebook Message can be forgotten unintentionally, easily be ignored, or conveniently ignored (let the reader understand). Right? Right. Phone calls are also more relational than texts. They often come across as more genuine, confident, and professional. And lastly, phone calls give you more of an opportunity to explain why you are calling and share more smoothly why you want to meet. If you share in a text that you are wanting to talk about financial support, it will likely read like a billboard (as my friend at Support Raising Solutions Aaron Babyar says). If you say it in a conversation, it seems much more palatable. So call people. I know you don’t like it. But do it.

images-1HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I CALL BEFORE I QUIT? 

Don’t give up too early, but don’t move into stalking mode either! Neither are good! How often do you call? And when do you throw in the towel? Here’s my advice:

  1. Typically, go 2-3 times beyond what you are comfortable with in trying to reach someone on the phone. From what I’ve seen, we are likely to stop ourselves short in attempted communication way too early. It’s likely our fear of rejection or insecurities in asking will get the better of our reaching out way before we become too pushy and cross a line.
  2. Switch up your mode of communication after several attempts via phone (my advice is 3 attempts at the very least) to a text message or a Facebook message. However, avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can.
  3. Stagger your attempts at calling. Consider waiting a couple of days before trying again if you’ve gotten radio silence thus far. It may look something like this:
  • July 1st – Attempt 1 to call Sally Jones (no voicemail).
  • July 2nd – Attempt two to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn. Would love to connect with you on something – I may try to call you back, but if you get a chance give me a call.”)
  • July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Sally Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Sally it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you on that thing I mentioned in the last voice mail. If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably be trying you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
  • July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Sally Jones (voicemail AND Text before“Hey Sally there is something important I would love to discuss with you – and briefly. Can we use the phone for a minute?”)
  • August 7th – Attempt 5 to call Sally Jones (voicemail that tells her I will email her with information: “Hey Sally, it’s Jenn Fortner. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect with you on to see if that works better for you. I’d love to connect soon if possible. I’m sure your busy but if you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Sally!”)

SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD

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Essentially what I did with Sally is switch modes of communication. Instead of calling again I am now switching to text and email for the time being. It could be that I would decide to switch the communication method just to text, or to Facebook Messenger, or to just email. How I choose to switch it up is largely placed on past communication I’ve had with Sally, and what I’ve noticed her communicating with to me and others in the past.

With Sally if I don’t hear anything via email or text from her at that point, I may put her in some type of organization system I keep with others I was unable to reach, and I will most likely try to reach out again after several months of waiting.

IN SUMMARY

There’s a lot of contingencies in the wide wide world or financial partnership development and phone calls, but I hope this post helps a bit as you think about your strategy in reaching people who don’t like to pick up the phone.

What are your thoughts? What works best for you? Post it in the comments! I’d love to start a discussion here!

 

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Author: Jenn Fortner

Jenn Fortner is a seasoned fundraising coach with over 10 years of experience. Currently Jenn serves Eurasia Assembly of God World Missionaries and provides guided training and coaching to over 100 missionaries. Right out of college Jenn began to raise her own funds for ministry assignments and quickly realized a heart for not only ministry, but for the people who served as her financial and spiritual team throughout years of ministry. Jenn began a journey of coaching others called to ministry to develop a relational approach to raising their funds, and has coached over 300 missionaries throughout their journey of fundraising.

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