Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Literally "Phoning It In"

The Urban Dictionary defines "phone it in" as ...
1) Literal - To present something, whether an idea, project, product, etc. by way of a phone call, rather than in person.
2) Used to describe a lazy or uninspired attempt. Perform an act in a perfunctory, uncommitted fashion, as if it didn't matter.
Reviewing a new business opportunity with a Partner at a professional service firm, I asked, "When are you presenting the ideas?"

The response, "On Monday."

I knew the answer before I asked the next question, so I asked it in a leading manner, "Are you going there or is _Name_ coming here?"

Without hesitating, he said, "We're talking over the phone, but I plan to e-mail him something to review prior."

Phoning it in.

We seem to have taken a literal term and made it into a euphemism for "perfunctory." This is dangerous.

Now that we have e-mail, many people rationalize a phone call believing they could do worse and simply e-mail the prospect. However, being able to do worse does not mean you did well. And many people would argue that a text or e-mail is actually more personal than a phone call.
"But you can't hear tone in an e-mail, which is why I call people directly," he argues proudly.
> Don't be so proud. You can't see expression on a phone.

"That's why I use Skype," she beams.
> Better, agreed, but are we looking to be better or make the sale? "That was a better shot, this time," says the coach, "but you still missed."
We need to remember why the expression "phoning it in" became an expression in the first place. Sending an e-mail or Skyping, whether or not this is better or worse than a live call, is still "phoning it in" if it replaces an in-person meeting.

While there are many times when an e-mail, phone call or Skype is more efficient and environmentally-sound than an in-person meeting, we need to keep the expression "phoning it in" in mind when looking to close business.

To end: If you are using the phone or your computer instead of your feet to deliver an idea, then ask yourself the following: "Am I phoning it in?" If you start to weigh the answer against worse forms of communication, then the answer is "Yes, you are phoning it in." And you know what to do instead.


On a positive note, I recently received the following note as part of a pipeline update: "They sent out the RFP to 8 firms and __name deleted__ said we were the only firm to come out and speak to them."

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