A note before we get started, this post will be a great companion to Ghosting! When It’s Time to Make the Final Contact, so make sure you read that post as well if you have’t already! – JF
Do you wonder what to do when a potential supporter doesn’t answer the phone? I’m sure you’ve run into a scenario like this one:
It’s Tuesday evening at 5:30pm and you call Stephanie hoping to connect and ask her for a face to face appointment, but she didn’t answer. Sadly Stephanie didn’t answer your text after you called either. Whomp. Okay, you tell yourself, par for the course. No biggie. Try again later. So you try Stephanie again on Thursday (early afternoon this time) but it’s still crickets so you leave her a voicemail and say a prayer. Nope. Nothing. Now it’s Saturday and you decide to send another text message and ask if Stephanie has time to connect soon. Nada. Now it’s the following week on Wednesday, you try Stephanie’s phone again and she doesn’t answer so you send her a quick email and wait.
And after all of this you are wondering; WHAT HAPPENED? Did I cross the line? When do I stop trying to reach someone who doesn’t answer the phone?
And here we are folks. Have you been there? Are you wondering how do you proceed when someone doesn’t answer phone calls or texts? 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? Should you send another text? One more email?
I’ve been there. Below is some advice I hope you find helpful!
VOICEMAILS AND INITAL CALLS
If you are reaching out to a prospective partner for the first time via phone and you reach them: HUZZAH! CONGRATS! If you don’t reach them on that first try, try to remember it’s okay and NORMAL. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to talk to you. Breathe deep. And here’s a little hack: if that first attempt goes to voicemail, consider hanging up without leaving a voice mail. This gives you the ability to call back again a day or two without need for explanation.
Another consideration for the first phone call without an answer (and no voicemail) is sending them a brief text message directly after the failed attempt that says something like the following:
“”Hi Stephanie! it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time to chat for a couple of minutes this evening (or another time soon that works better)? Or I’ll just try you back in a bit. Thanks!” (wording taken directly from a worker who used this and said it was gold!)
They may or may not answer the text. If they don’t answer, don’t give up! Call again, and this time leave a voicemail and communicate the following:
- 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. You don’t want to give them too many details as to why you are calling, so keep the information short and to the point.
- If you are calling without prior context (no invitation letter), communicate that you are wanting to talk briefly and mention that you will be calling them back.
- It should go something like this:
- “Hi Stephanie! Hope you are doing great. I would love to catch you sometime soon – if you grab a minute give me a call but I’ll try to see if I can catch you at another time. Have a great day and hope to talk to you soon!”
- It should go something like this:
If you feel more comfortable texting rather than calling, consider sending someone a text before you call them (or after you call them – as explained above). In a text prior to calling – ask if it would be a good time to call and that you’d like to speak with them briefly. A brief warning here: Don’t skip ahead and ask for an appointment on a text… I know, texts seem SO MUCH easier than phone calls. Truly, texting is a whole other subject so head here if you want more details as to (1) why a combination of a text message and phone call is better than just a text message for scheduling appointments (2) how do text without giving too much information or (3) why is no one answering my texts.
HOW 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 some advice:
- 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.
- 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, prior to this try hard to avoid written messages in asking for appointments whenever you can (lots of reasons for why can be found here).
- 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 Stephanie Jones (no voicemail). (brief text message afterward “Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Could you let me know if there’s a good time for you to chat this evening (If not another time that works?) Or I’ll just try you again in a bit! Thanks” )
- July 2nd – Attempt two to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail “Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn Fortner. Hope you are doing great. Just trying to reach you and don’t want to take too much of your time, about a ministry thing. Give me a call if you grab a moment or I’ll try and call you soon. I hope your at the beach or something! I know you were talking about going. Have a great day!”
- July 7th – Attempt 3 to call Stephanie Jones (brief voicemail: “Hey Stephanie it’s Jenn again. Just trying to reach you, If you get a chance give me a call, but I’ll probably try you again. Hope to chat you soon.”)
- July 21st – Attempt 4 to call Stephanie Jones (Text before: “Hey Stephanie, just trying to reach you one more time. 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 Stephanie Jones (maybe voicemail or no voicemail with a text after, but something like this: “Hey Stephanie. I’ll go ahead and email you on the thing I’m trying to connect about to see if that works better for you. I’m sure your busy and hope you guys are having a great summer. If you get a chance to check your email that would be great. Thanks Stephanie!”)
- August 20th – No answer from email. You text The Final Contact (see post for wording).
- If still you get nothing from emailing or texting it’s likely time for The Final Contact. Make sure you read this important post if you haven’t already to word that crucial text the best way possible.
SWITCHING COMMUNICATION METHOD
If it’s evident after several failed phone call attempts that the phone is not for them, try switching to text, email, Facebook Messenger, or a combination of some of these things. How you choose to switch it up should largely be placed on past communication you’ve had with that potential partner.
If you don’t hear back from that potential partner after switching modes of communication, try sending the Final Contact. After that Final Contact, you may consider putting that person in some type of organization system you have kept with other potential partners, noting the times you tried communication. And lastly, consider reaching out again after several months of waiting. You never know after several months or when you’re closer to the finish line if that person may get inspired to give. It’s possible that they just needed some time to think about it.
There’s a lot of contingencies in the world 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!