Salespeople and marketers are always on the go. Days are booked from beginning to end with meetings—on site and off—calls to prospects and customers, analyzing data and compiling reports, and so on.
In the midst of all of that, texting is a simple and quick way to stay connected, but there are some rules and protocols to ensure professional messaging.
The first rule is: Multitasking is a myth. You can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Even if you drive an autonomous car that will stop itself before rear-ending a motorcycle at a red light, texting while driving opens all kinds of possibilities for mistakes that can hurt business relationships.
Remember, messaging for business is different from letting the crew know you’re running late for happy hour.
Having made those mandatory disclaimers, here are 19 other practices for optimizing your use of texting for marketing your business, booking appointments, answering questions, and closing deals.
- Texting is a hot medium. Reply to a business text as soon as possible to signal professionalism and respect. Delaying too long communicates that you really don’t care.
- Texting is not an “idea” medium. Don’t rely on messaging for complex communications or things that will require a back-and-forth for clarification. Don’t take chances of an unintentional error.
- Read your text before sending. If auto-correct doesn’t “fix” words for you, the flying thumb is prone to grammar and spelling errors. Errors in business communication reflect poorly on you and your organization.
- Don’t text anything you don’t want your boss to see. Texting creates a “paper trail,” and inappropriate communication can have disastrous impacts. Imagine your text being used against you in a court of law.
- Be brief. Regardless of the myth of multitasking, people try to read them while doing everything from answering emails to operating heavy equipment. No one reads long text messages.
- Make sure you’re texting the right person. Have you ever received an “interesting” text that was meant for someone else? That means you know something that may be none of your business. Sending a sensitive business text to the wrong person may be perceived as a breach of privacy, a business killer.
- Make sure recipients know who you are. People get a lot of texts and identifying yourself will make it more likely they’ll engage with you. Never assume people know who you are by your phone number.
- Always respond to a text with a text or phone call. If you need to email someone, alert them that you are sending them an email via text. This is especially true if it’s an email that can’t be missed.
- Never text anything confidential, private, or potentially embarrassing. Enough said.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. People are busy and can’t always reply right away. Don’t get huffy or bomb them with reminders. Give them time to get back to you.
- Use professional language. A TNX or K could be viewed as a lack of care or interest by a potential customer or client. An IKYN may simply not be understood.
- Never text while on a call or doing something else. Multitasking is still a myth and trying to do it makes it more likely you’ll make an error, communicate something unintentional or message the wrong person. Little errors cause big problems.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Part II. Texting is a very personal medium and blatant marketing messages can feel like a major violation of trust. Smartphones feel more human to people than other devices.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Part III. Don’t take it personally if someone texts to cancel at the last minute. Measure your response; don’t sound annoyed or angry. If it gets to be a habit, ask them respectfully to respect your time. If that doesn’t work, don’t waste any more time on that person.
- Emojis? Hard no, not in business. Many people still don’t understand them or view them in the same way. Even something as simple as a smiley face could be misconstrued, especially if someone doesn’t know you well.
- Be serious. In today’s multicultural professional environment, a joke in one language may be a serious insult in another. A misunderstood joke is a sure way to kill a deal.
- If you can’t meet a request made in a text, don’t just say “no.” Also explain why. It keeps the door open to further discussion.
- Only text when your brain is clear and fully functioning. Never text a client or customer when under the influence, sleepy, or in any way mentally or physically compromised. Just remember the last time you had one too many and you’ll understand why.
- If in doubt, have someone else read a text before sending.