By Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE
A salesperson from Pitney Bowes left a message on my office voicemail that my lease on the postage machine was almost up and he could help me lock in a savings for uninterrupted service.
I returned his call and said I was going to return the machine at the end of the lease but hadn’t been able to turn it in early without a penalty thinking maybe he could help.
No acknowledgement. Did he get my message? Was he unable to help with assistance or information?
I use a great office cleaning service and asked the branch manager if the person who cleaned my office might like a copy of my book The Fred Factor. He said that would be nice but she only spoke and read Spanish, so I provided her manager a Spanish translation to give her.
That was six months ago.
No acknowledgement. Had her manager passed the book on to her? Had she had a desire or chance to read it?
Someone I knew from an organization I was once deeply involved with posted a heartfelt message about some challenges he was facing. I sent a supportive note.
No acknowledgement. Did he read the email? Was my relationship with him unimportant?
A panel was formed to resolve some issues with an organization that I had some dealings with. I sent a message that if needed, I’d be glad to help.
No acknowledgment. Might I be contacted later? Did they not need my input?
An acknowledgement is a confirmation that what you attempted occurred. It also says you are important enough to recognize for your efforts.
“Sorry I can’t help you with your old postage meter.”
“Yes, I got the book you left me.”
“I received your supportive email.
“Thanks for your offer to help.”
Without an acknowledgement you begin to wonder if the email was delivered, the book was picked up, the message was received.
I might be old school as I try to acknowledge everything but spam emails. If I receive a book from an author I don’t know, I acknowledge with an email and express appreciation for them thinking of me. If someone sends a supportive email, I acknowledge and thank them for their kind words.
Why is acknowledgement important?
First, it is polite; the right thing to do. Second, it demonstrates professionalism and the fact that you are attentive to the details of your life. Third, it takes into account attempts others have made to engage you.
Simple acknowledgment is an entry level skill in the arena of human relations.
Acknowledgment is even better when coupled with and explanation or the appropriate emotion, most commonly gratitude.
“Sorry I can’t help you with returning your postage meter. I’m in sales but here’s the person that can help you…”
“I did receive your book but haven’t had a chance to read it.”
“Your email arrived but I don’t have the emotional energy to respond right now.”
“We have received your email and have added you to the list of those who have offered their support.”
Basically the art of acknowledgement includes the always first and often a combination of these things:
- Confirmation of effort (the acknowledgement).
- If appropriate, an expression of gratitude.
- Helpful information in response.
- An explanation about the impact of the acknowledgement.
- Recommendation of an alternative person or resource to utilize.
Are there times when acknowledgment isn’t necessary? In my opinion, yes.
I have long been a user of LinkedIn. I keep a presence there for my business and professional services. If someone wants to connect on my network and they appear to be a solid person with interesting skills, I almost always say yes.
Lately I can predict who is going to hit me up with a sales pitch by the their description of themselves and/or their connection request. “I help (speakers/coaches/authors/consultants) to (get more leads/use social media/increase revenues/create online training etc).” If I accept, I don’t just get an acknowledgement (“Great to connect”) but the pitch: “Great to connect. Let’s schedule a time to talk about how you can use my services.”
Let’s not schedule a time to talk. My new strategy is simple. If I add someone to my network and he or she instantly hits me up to buy, I instantly unlink. The person is asking me to invest my time without spending any her or his time getting to understand my business or my potential needs in advance.
Some things are complex and difficult. It is easier to understand what not everyone does them.
Acknowledgment is simple and easy and part of a professional way of doing business. It isn’t so easy to understand why some don’t do it.
Don’t just acknowledge out of a begrudging sense of duty. Do it because you play by a higher standard and adhere to the best practices of doing business.
This article was originally posted at marksanborn.com
Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is a faculty member of LEADERSHIP USA.