Help, your cell phone is ringing, and you can’t recover.

Help, your cell phone is ringing, and you can’t recover.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Help, your cell phone is ringing, and you can’t recover.

Picture this: You’re in an important meeting with a prospective client trying to make the sale of the year. The prospect is in the middle of telling you exactly what you need to hear to complete the sale, and a cell phone rings. Uh oh.

Some idiot forgot to turn off his cell phone are you that idiot?

The prospect is thinking: Rude, stupid, irritation.
You’re thinking: rats

The ambiance and focus of the meeting is lost. You’re embarrassed. The others are staring at you.

The onslaught of cellular communication is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is provided by the phone company. It’s the most valuable tool in the salesperson’s communication arsenal. The curse is how you misuse its operation.

Salespeople, like regular people, are selfish, and only want to deal with their stuff. They have the cell phone for fast communication, and don’t think about regulating and adjusting the way communication is made based on their circumstance.

In your car is one thing, leave it wide open. In a meeting, seminar, movie, ball game, church, or restaurant you may want to adjust your device, or turn it off.

OK, you get the idea. Now what? Well I have a few “rules” to pass on, but I wanted to make this message an impactful one, so I have also asked THE experts for their advice. Lisa Anderson and Shane Wallace are sales managers for AT&T Wireless services. They use their cellular phones 50 times a day, and have sold them to thousands of businesses and individuals. They also teach customers how to USE the phone.

    Here are the combined rules of cellular etiquite from the masters at AT&T, and a guy who speaks on the phone 1,000 minutes a month and uses it as a lifeline (that would be me):

  • Learn the features and functions. In other words, read the manual. It helps if you know what the best alternative is if a disruption occurs.
  • Know when to turn it off or vibrate it. OFF: meetings, movies, ball games, worship, seminars, with a customer. VIBRATE: Public places where you can take a call, but don’t want to disturb others with the ringing.
  • If you gotta talk, don’t scream. The cellular phone is actually more sound and voice sensitive than a regular phone. Just speak in a lowerthannormal voice, you will be heard by the caller (and not the rest of the people in the room).
  • Avoid talking at the table of a restaurant. If you must take the call, answer the call, ask the caller to hold for a moment, excuse yourself from the table, and take the call near the payphones in the restaurant or outside.
  • Avoid talking where you may be distracting to others. A bit of patience can get you from rude to respected.
  • Avoid talking where others might know your business. Be aware of your surroundings as you hang out your laundry. It may be dirty.
  • Lower your ringer.
  • Don’t make lame excuses about being rude. “Sorry, I forgot to turn it off” is as bad as taking the call.
  • Use your voicemail function. You can personalize and add some humor to voice mail message. Dumb and dumber: If you get a call during a meeting, don’t compound it by answering. The phone ringing is an option not a mandate.
  • Going up? Elevators drop calls. End the call BEFORE you enter the elevator. Makes you look dumb to the customer, and the people in the elevator.
  • Brevity. When you get a call and you’re with others, 30seconds is the maximum. Period.
  • Eliminate triple jeopardy. There’s triple jeopardy when you get a call in a public place or private meeting: 1. It puts you in a bad light and makes appear rude and look foolish. 2. It’s embarrassing to everyone. 3. You put the caller in an awkward position. You immediately let them know that “you’re in a meeting” (big deal) and blah, blah.
    REALITY CHECK: When you’re in a meeting and you take a cell call, you’re saying to your prospect or customer: I don’t respect you, or my time with you. You are not as important as the person who may be calling.
  • Phone home. Talk to your mother. She will give you the added dose of manners you’ve always ignored.

NOTE: Sometimes you must take the call. Sick child, big deal pending, important notification. Proper etiquette is to inform the others at the beginning of the meeting that you are expecting an important call, and get their permission.

NOTE WELL: The call may be for you, but the impression you leave is for others.

Oh, I gotta run, my cell phone is ringing.

Free GitBit… Want a list of safety tips compiled by our good friends at AT&T wireless services? Go to and click free stuff, then click GitBit. Register (if you’re a first time user) and enter the secret words “SAFE CELL PHONE” in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs weekly sales meetings via the internet, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to