5 Great Phoning Tips Everyone Can Use!

With e-mails, tweets, blogs, texts and other easy electronic forms of communication becoming more mainstream, I couldn’t help but think now might be a great time for some old-fashioned, back to the basics, and tried and true tips for PHONING! Everyone still uses the phone from time to time, but it’s those that still embrace it that might surprisingly have the edge over you techno-geeks. No offense to the geeks out there! I too used to be the head of the geek squad in my office. I’m simply suggesting that we all might need a good refresher on our phoning skills from time to time. And NOW is the time!

Tip #1
Never assume that the person you are calling has been waiting for your call and wants to talk to you right now.

This is SO obvious when you are on the other end of a sales call. Remember the last time you picked up the phone and was blasted by someone just rambling on about their sales pitch? I know that when this happens to me it not only turns me off to that person right then and there, but also leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the next time they call me. I’m almost immediately turned off when I hear their voice again to the point that they could be trying to give me a million dollars and I would rather get off the phone as quick as possible.

This really comes down to the core value of mutual respect. You would want it if someone was calling you. So be sure to give it back to others when you call them. So, the first reminder here is to ask permission to move forward with the call. But Jonathan, if I’m making a sales call who is possibly going to want to move forward with the call? GREAT QUESTION! Along with being polite, here is a great way to use our natural human instincts to your advantage.

Let me first tell you that Telemarketers have been training people on the other end of the phone line to say one thing and one thing only…“NO!” The word NO has become a knee-jerk reaction for most of us when confronted with telemarketers. Think what your response might be if someone called you up right now and asked the following:

• Would you like to change your phone service to another provider?
• How would you like a new credit card with a low APR?
• Would you like to save money on your car insurance today?
• Do you have a minute to speak with me?

These are all valid questions that someone might ask you to spark your interest. But if you are anything like me, you would probably automatically just say NO so you could get back to whatever it was you were doing before they called. You probably wouldn’t even ask about the details of the phone service, what the APR was, or even how much money they could save you on your car insurance. Even the last question was kind of a trick question that you still might answer NO to as your first reaction not even knowing what they wanted to talk to you about.
So how do you use this knee-jerk reaction to your advantage? Simple. Reword your question to give the answer that you want to be NO. One of the best ways I have found to start my calls asking this question sounds a lot like “Hi, Bill this is Jonathan. Did I catch you at a bad time?” Bill’s knee-jerk reaction is to say NO. This seems to work for me about 85-90% of the time. This is in no way meant to be a trick that I play on people, simply a polite way to ask permission to move forward with the conversation. Once we get past their initial reaction and they become engaged in the conversation, it becomes much easier for people to honestly figure out for themselves if they are interested in what it is that I am calling about.

About 10% of people will actually say “yes, it is a bad time.” Rather than turn them off by ignoring the answer to the questions I just asked by starting right in to my sales pitch, I will simply apologize and ask them when a better time to call them back would be. The other response that I get every once in a while is “every time is a bad time.” This is usually from the guys that want everyone to think that they are always SO busy that they almost never have time to even take phone calls to which I usually respond “I’m sorry to hear that, I guess I’ll have to be brief. The reason for my call is…” By the way, these guys usually lighten up and are usually pretty nice guys under all the tough and gruff.

Asking people if I’ve caught them at a bad time has become so natural for me over the years, I even find myself asking my friends and family members when I call them.

Tip #2
Say Cheese & Smile

This might sound corny, but when you are on the phone you NEED TO SMILE ?. This is one of those old telemarketer tricks that so few consciously do when they get on the phone. When you smile, whether on the phone or face to face with someone your voice automatically creates inflections that send signals to the person you are talking that you are happy. To some degree this is kind of like yawning in front of someone and then watching them start to yawn back at you even if they are not tired at all. At the very least it projects your voice in a non-threatening way.

Still don’t think YOU need to smile? Try this some time with a friend or colleague. Call them up and ask them if you can read something to them, like a couple lines from a news article or a book, three times. If they’re game, first read it normally, then read it again with the angriest face you can possibly make, and lastly read it to them with the biggest smile on your face. After you read it to them, tell them you read it each time making a different face; a normal face, and angry face, and a big smile. Ask them if they could tell the difference between them and which time they most enjoyed hearing you read those lines to them. People can tell when you are smiling. Not only can they hear the difference but most likely it will set your own mood up for your call being a happy one.

A great way to get used to this is obviously to practice it and consciously make an effort to smile while you are on the phone. Another great way I’ve seen people make this a habit is by using a mirror to see themselves smile. I myself have done this on more than one occasion. I tend to walk around when I’m on the phone and I always have a mirror in my office. When I’m on the phone I sometimes give myself a glance to see if I am smiling which usually is a great reminder for me and elicits a smile to myself in the mirror. Silly? Maybe. But it works and I have often been complimented on my voice over the phone as well as my upbeat demeanor and most of the time it is all to blame on my smile ?

Tip #3
Wanna Play a Game?

Who doesn’t like to play games? Especially when it can help you get past someone’s objections on the phone.

First, set up the game by taking out some note cards or pieces of paper and at the top of sheet write down one objection that you have heard on the phone while making a sales call, appointment call, or any other type of call that you make. Chances are there will usually only be about 6-8 different objections. Things like “I’ve already got someone that does that for me” or “Now is not a good time for us to do that”. Whatever they are, write them down. Next, write down the language that you would ideally use to overcome these objections. Finally, place each card down on your desk so you can see each one. Again there will most likely only be about 6-8. If you have more than 10 you might want to try to consolidate some of them that are similar. You are now ready to play!

Make you first call and get ready for your first objection! You already know 9 times out of 10 the person you are calling is going to have at least one objection to what you are calling about, so why not be ready for them with the responses. This is also a great way to become more consistent with the message you are saying to people. After a couple of rounds, you’ll find that your objection language comes a lot easier as you talk through them with each person. And remember, you are on the phone and they can’t see you! So feel free to take notes on the conversation, recline in your chair, and do whatever else you need to do to set yourself up for success on your calls.

Now let’s add two more bonus rounds to this game:
Bonus Round #1 is transitioning back from your objection language to the reason you called the person. If the reason was to get an introduction meeting scheduled, you need to find a way to get back to that after you have answered their objection. Take out another note card and write the word “transition” on the top of it. Then write down the language that feels most comfortable to you to get back to the reason for the call. Perhaps something like “with that in mind, is there a day next week that would work better than another for me to stop by and tell you a little more about …” Put this card at the top of your desk so after each objection you can refer to it to transition back into the reason for you call.

Bonus Round #2 is going to set you up for another opportunity to play the game again in the future. Just like other games, I usually keep this one to 3 strikes and you’re out or the way I like to put it is 3 No’s and a Go. If someone gives you three objections and you are still not able to get what it is you are looking for, most likely it’s just not right for that person…right now. It may, however, be right for them in the future and you want to ensure that you can play again when the time comes. Take out one last note card and write at the top “6 Months” and below that write the language that best works for you to ask permission to call back at a later date. I always used language like “Mr./Mrs. XYZ, as you know, things have a way of changing. Would you have any objections to me checking back with you in 6 months?” I’m double dipping on my earlier point of people’s knee-jerk reactions being to say NO, but it works so well it must be made to be used on the phone ?. The word “objections” is such a strong word that most people do not use it in everyday conversations. If I had asked “can I call you back in 6 months?” you and I both know that most every time the person on the other end would say NO. But by asking them “would you have any objections to me checking back with you?” they will almost always say NO. AND THAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER AGAIN! BRILLIANT! What are they going to say…”Yes, I would object to having you calling me back…” Maybe one in 100, but the other 99 will say that’s fine. Also, by telling them the time frame you plan to call back, they will also feel a little more comfortable letting you call back since they know that you are not planning to call them every day for the next year. A lot can happen in 6 months and who knows, things may change for them and they might just need what you’ve got!

Tip #4
Recap, Confirm, and Follow Up

Let’s look at the other outcome of a call for a moment. The side that you REALLY want. They DO say YES and they DO want what it is that you have. At the end of every positive call, it is always important to recap what it is that they are agreeing to. If it is an appointment with you, remind them when you have it scheduled for AND where you are planning to meet. If you are selling something, remind them what they are purchasing along with what is going to happen next. If their credit card is going to be charged today, TELL THEM. If it is going to take a week to send them their product, TELL THEM. It is better to clear up any misunderstandings now rather than having to go back and correct a misunderstanding. Remember, the customer is always right ?. The customer also rarely pays for things to get corrected, especially if you want to come out of a misunderstanding with, at least, your reputation intact.

Confirm your appointments! All too often people get busy and forget personal appointments simply because they forgot to write them down or no one reminded them. You could just pout and be upset at the person for not showing up, but where does that leave you? Why not be proactive and give YOUSELF every opportunity to keep the appointment. Give people a reminder call about their appointment. There are certainly different schools of thought on how far in advance you should call. Some say 2 days in case they reschedule, it will leave you with 2 days to fill that spot on your calendar. Some say to call just before you leave your office telling them that you are on your way to the appointment so the person is reminded kind of on the spot and is less likely to cancel even if they did forget. And, if by chance, they do cancel, then you simply catch up on some other work in the office. Whatever you feel most comfortable with and works best for you will be fine. But don’t leave it up to the person you are going to see to remember! You are only setting yourself up for an un-kept appointment.

Lastly… follow up. This is such an easy step to forget but is so important and can even generate repeat business. After an appointment or a sale, always follow up with a letter, phone call or and e-mail thanking the person for their time, money, or whatever they just gave you ?. They may have further questions and this is a great time to answer them as well as get other feedback on your product or service. It also is such a lost art to send out hand-written notes or follow up with a phone call that if you go one of those routes, you will most likely be a step above the rest.

Tip #5
Special Occasion Calls

Happy Birthday! For some of us we dread growing another year older but at the same time it feels good when people remember our birthday. Wishing someone a happy birthday is such a great way to remind people that you too are human and that you also care about them on a more personal level. A level beyond their wallet.

A quick example of this from last year:
My birthday was in May and just before I went to work that morning I grabbed my cell phone and found 3 voicemails on it. The first was my sister singing “Happy Birthday” to me. She wakes up at the crack of dawn every day for her morning walk so it was not surprising to me to hear her message first. The second voicemail was from a previous boss of mine from 2 years ago! While we still keep in touch from time to time, he now lives about 250 miles away from me so we don’t get to connect as much as we might if we both lived in the same area. Our relationship is certainly a special one, but what made his voicemail more special and surprising to me was that the voice mail AFTER his was my MOTHER! He beat my mother to the punch of wishing me a happy birthday! Not that it creates a hierarchy of relationships by being the second to wish me a happy birthday, but WOW…what a GREAT way to start my day hearing from family members and another great person that I truly admire and respect. By the way, he also used to be my financial advisor prior to moving away from the area to take on bigger challenges in the company.

That story is just a quick example of how the phone can help you connect with people on a more personal level and help set you apart from the others that just call to make a sale or an appointment. Other special occasions I have heard people calling on are anniversaries, children’s birthdays, even a summer kick-off call or a back-to-school call, ALL of which have nothing to do directly with sales but help you connect with the people that you want to have as a part of your clientele and circle of friends.

In closing, I hope you have found these tips useful and will be able to implement at least one of them into your phoning practices. At the very least they should be good reminders for those of you that are already using the phone to your advantage. So many people struggle with phone reluctance that I can’t help but think this article can be so useful to others that you know. Please feel free to pass this along to friends, family, colleagues, business partners, clients, and anyone else you can think of that might find this information useful. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and wish you all the greatest success in your business and on the phone!

Jonathan Lewis is a Personal & Business Empowerment Coach that works with individuals and businesses to break through limiting thoughts and turning potential into achievement.

For more great information on our online training, newsletters, seminars, and 1 on 1 coaching, please visit our web site at: http://yourbusinessbydesigncoach.com/sq

Author's Bio: 

Jonathan Lewis is a Personal & Business Empowerment Coach that works with individuals and businesses to break through limiting thoughts and turning potential into achievement.

For more great information on our online training, newsletters, seminars, and 1 on 1 coaching, please visit our web site at: http://yourbusinessbydesigncoach.com/sq