Many people don't take full advantage of the power and opportunity of the lowly telephone because they take the quality of their telephone conversations for granted. But with the application of a few simple techniques, they can significantly improve the productivity of every telephone conversation.
Many believe texting and emails will replace the need for telephone conversations. Not true. Here are some tips that can increase productivity and sales.
Have a clear objective and a call plan
When making an outgoing call, always know in advance what you want to discuss, and a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
You should also prepare a voicemail message in advance, even if you plan to speak with the individual directly. You may get their voice mail or an answering machine, and if you're not prepared you can sound stilted and off-balance as you come up with a message "on the fly" so prepare a message in advance, or if you're caught off guard then hang up, prepare a message, and call back to deliver it smoothly.
Be concise, direct and honest
When calling, state your request succinctly ("Do you have two minutes to talk about the materials I sent you last week?") and present an option. If the person can't talk at that moment, try to get a specific time when you should call back.
Review and confirm
Repeat back to the other party your interpretation of the call, especially if a verbal negotiation has been completed. Doing so can clarify overlooked details and also communicates to your clients that you really want to meet their needs.
Faxing or emailing a summary of your notes of the conversation can be an effective way of following up with a client, as it paves the way for clear understanding and provides prompt confirmation.
Most people see the phone as a convenience, but for savvy business people, it's more than that — it's a powerful business tool. Here are some additional tips:
Be clear. Speak crisply. Avoid slurring syllables or trailing off at the end.
Smile. A smile conveys sincerity and enthusiasm.
Speed. Your speech speed can indicate your attitude. The ideal rate is 150 to 160 words per minute. If you speak faster, the caller may doubt your credibility. Any slower and you may bore your listener.
Be expressive. Be yourself. Speak like you would to a friend.
Use your first and last name to identify yourself.
Lower your voice at the end of a sentence, especially a question. This conveys confidence and competence. Raising your voice (as in your voice going up to ask a question) conveys uncertainty. Be careful to lower your vocal tone only, and to keep your volume strong.
Write down ideas on how to respond. Jot down key points and ideas so that you will be able to respond effectively when you have a chance to speak.
Select just two or three tips above and practice them for a week. You'll be amazed how it will change your attitude in a positive way to the benefits of transacting business on the phone.
Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.