Using the phone for appointment scheduling used to be a skill that nearly anyone could learn easily, because people were normally using the phone for all communication that wasn’t face-to-face. Now, with the popularity of emails, texting, and social media as means of communication, an individual with elevated phone skills is becoming a sought after asset. To be marketable and successful in business, it’s advantageous to develop good phone communication skills.
I propose that there will never be a time when phone communication will not exist in business. No matter how technologically advanced we become as a society, many professionals will always do a portion of their conversing via telephone or video chat, and their voices will come into play. The cell phones of the world will always be used to convert voices to binary information and send them across a frequency from one person to another; they will not solely be used for typed responses.
Phone effectiveness begins with your preparation. Follow these tips to lay the groundwork for a successful phone time.
- Decide your schedule before beginning outgoing calls. Block off when you plan to do personal activities, other responsibilities, scheduled work meetings, etc. Then fill in when you plan to visit with customers. That allows you to be more efficient when working with the client on finding a time that is convenient for both of you.
- Have your list of prospects ready. Wasting time shuffling through various papers or searching your computer for contact information will decrease your phone efficiency.
- Prepare an approach. Thinking ahead of time of what you’ll say while on the phone will help increase your confidence and flow when speaking with your prospect. Doing things off the cuff is rarely a good strategy. The same way delivering a moving speech from stage takes strong word choice, planned vocal inflection and practice speaking it aloud, a prepared phone approach can help sway your prospect.
If you are not in a positive mindset when it’s time to begin dialing, use one or more of the following suggestions to help shift your thoughts before you begin:
- Call one of your most satisfied clients to check on their products or service. Speaking with someone who is happy to do business with you, reminds you that you make a positive difference in people’s experiences.
- Speak with a positive teammate. This teammate could be someone on your sales team, someone in your company from a different territory, or even someone in your personal life who supports your ambition at work. A quick chat reminds you of the joy you get from succeeding and that other people relate to what you are feeling.
- Listen to a favorite song. Music can be uplifting – it can pull us out of whatever mood we are currently in. If music has a powerful effect on your emotions, then listen to a song that gets your body moving and your pulse racing. Then get on the phone with your newfound energy.
- Write your ultimate goal down and have it in front of you. Then write down what you need to accomplish during this phone time to keep you on track toward that ultimate goal. Also write down what achieving your ultimate goal will do for you. For example: "My goal is to earn $1000 this week. My goal for this phone time is to schedule 8 appointments. Earning $1000 will allow me to buy the gift for mom that she has been wanting for a few years. Her reaction will be priceless." By reminding yourself of the larger vision you have for your success, the little setbacks or challenges along the way are easier to get over.
- Have a plan for no’s. If you are the type to be majorly discouraged by getting a no from a prospect, then make a plan for how you’ll deal with them. I’ve seen some people take the paper with the prospects name and number, fold it into an airplane and fly it into the trash. Having a water gun on your desk and shooting yourself in the head (or having a co-worker douse you) after a no can give comedic relief and lift your spirit. Setting a competitive goal with a co-worker for who can get the most no’s can turn a negative into a small positive. Allowing your self a small treat – like a piece of candy or a bite of cookie for each no can also be a small condolence.
Then, make the next call. Always end your phone time on a yes!
Preparation is just one key to phone success. For helpful tips to use while on the phone, click here.