The best salespeople look at every telephone call – the ones they make and the ones they receive – as a potential sale. Good phone manners can turn a “no” into a “yes”; bad phone manners can sink a possible sale. Use these six tips to improve your telephone skills and become a better salesperson:
1. Get right to the point – When making outgoing calls, your first sentence should state your purpose. For example, “Hi, John, this is Mike McCann with Global Business Cafe calling briefly today to let you know our next E-lert is going to be on July 2 and I want to interview you for an article.”
2. Smile before you pick up the phone – whether it’s an incoming call or one you’re about to make. You would be surprised how many customers will be able to tell you are smiling, because your smile comes across in your voice. Some salespeople even put a mirror near the phone, to remind them to smile.
3. Enunciate your words – Speak clearly and avoid slang and industry jargon. Never eat, chew gum, or smoke when you are on the phone. Speak directly into the phone: Some experts estimate that you lose 75 percent of your volume when you hold the receiver below your mouth.
4. Never treat customer calls as interruptions – The best salespeople realize that their customers sign their paychecks. No matter how busy they are, every time a customer calls they treat it as an opportunity to solve a problem, build a relationship, and make the customer feel important.
5. Block out everybody but the caller – When you pick up the phone, you need to shut out all the other distractions around you and devote 100 percent of your attention to each caller. If you need to put someone on hold, explain what you are doing, and keep hold time to a minimum. Always thank the person for holding when you return. Don’t interrupt the caller when he or she is talking — even if you already know what he or she is going to say.
6. Have answers ready – Keep track of the most common questions and problems that callers have and keep answers and solutions near at hand. The quicker you can solve their problems, the more they will appreciate you as a resource.