Communicating effectively on the phone is a skill and, as with any skill, improvement comes with practice and honest critique. What’s great about the phone is you can be your own best coach by recording a few of your calls, listening carefully, and making changes based on what you hear.
Here are my top 5 elements of an excellent phone conversation.
When you listen to your recordings (see below for options on how to record your calls), the first challenge you’ll encounter is hearing the sound of your own voice. Very few people enjoy listening to themselves, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to improve. In other words … get over it! Focus instead on these elements of your call:
- Your tone of voice: Do you sound enthused and interested in the reason for your call? If not, how can your prospect or client get excited about it? I’m not suggesting you put false energy in your voice. Be clear on the value of why you are calling. Focus on it and make sure your tone of voice supports that value.
- Interest in your prospect/customer: Are you asking questions that allow your prospect or client to talk about their needs and experience? Are you responding to what they share with you? Is the conversation more about them than you? If it isn’t, you will have difficulty confirming sales or resolving customer issues. Take the time to craft questions that create a two-way conversation and practice responding to the answers you receive. Creating engaging conversations builds relationships and creates loyalty.
- The words you use: Much like our written communication, our phone conversations usually need an edit. Keep your ears open for unnecessary or ‘iffy’ words, such as just, maybe, wondering, sort of, kinda, etc. These words definitely diminish the value of your call. Also pay attention to any technical or industry-specific words you are using. Are they being well-received by your prospect/client? Or are they creating confusion? Simple words guarantee clarity.
- Talking too fast: Racing through a conversation is never a good idea. Your prospect/customer will stop listening and certainly won’t be interested in speaking with you again. While a fast talker can be labeled as nervous, they can also be judged as anxious, panicked, shady, or disrespectful. Rushing pushes all your words together, making them difficult to understand. If you are a fast talker, practice visualizing space between each word. Request the help of friends, colleagues or your manager to listen to you and point out when and where you speed up. You won’t be able to change this vocal habit overnight. Be patient with yourself and keep working at it.
- Talking too much: When you listen to your recordings, whose voice do you hear the most? If it is your’s … it’s time for a change. At the very least, the ratio of the conversation should be 50/50. If you are in sales, you want to create a ratio of 30/70. The more your prospect shares with you about their needs and challenges, the greater your opportunity to present your value as a solution. Again, this isn’t something you’ll be able to change quickly. Be patient. Keep recording your conversations and listening for any improvement.
When we talk less and listen more, we create an experience of service that supports both sales and service excellence. (Tweet This!)
Many cellphones include the ability to record and there are also apps available to help you record and store audio files. While not endorsing any app or platform, here are a few ideas: For your cellphone – Automatic Call Recorder Pro – known as CallU. Here’s a link in Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smsrobot.callu&hl=en. For landlines, clients have used these two platforms over the years to allow me to listen to audio files: http://www.recordiapro.com and https://calln.com. There are likely lots of other options. Choose what will work best for you.