Voice calls are not dead yet

I'm a fan of email as a communications medium, despite the overwhelming amount of spam and overload of legitimate messages, as I've commented before. Nevertheless, the good old-fashioned voice call retains an important role in business communication. Unfortunately, the ability to effectively use the plain old telephone is a skill that seems to be lacking in younger employees.

That's according to an article by Anita Hofschneider in the Wall Street Journal. She recounts the experience of Patty Baxter, who has 20 years experience at Metro Guide Publishing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and who noted that advertising sales were down. “Ms. Baxter identified a reason,” Hofschneider writes: “Her sales staff, all under age 35, were emailing clients with their pitches, not calling them on the phone.”

“Younger workers may have mastered technologies that some of their older colleagues have barely heard of, such as photo and video sharing apps Instagram and Vine,” Hofschneider writes, but some bosses wish they'd learn a more traditional skill: picking up the phone.” She quotes several younger workers as calling phone calls annoying interruptions.

Hofschneider continues: “But email won't cut it in professions like sales, where personal rapport matters, says Ms. Baxter, age 49. 'You're not selling if you're just asking a question and getting an answer back,' she says.”

There is help for sufferers of “phone phobia,” which, according to The Phone Lady, affects approximately 80% of business people. The Phone Lady, aka Mary Jane Copps, offers workshops and seminars to help salespeople, entrepreneurs, fundraisers, marketers, and administrative personnel overcome phone phobia and become effective communicators over the plain old telephone. She charges $1,800 for a full day workshop and $1,000 for a half day workshop (exclusive of travel expenses from Halifax, NS). She doesn't eschew more modern forms of communications, either. She blogs and is on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Phone Lady's seminars might be a bit advanced for some plain-old-telephone beginners. Hofschneider in the Wall Street Journal comments that one manager had to teach a young employee what a dial tone is.

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