No matter why we pick up a phone – to close a sale, book a meeting, connect with a customer or resolve a service issue – being able to inspire a conversation holds tremendous value. It is through conversation that we can:
*hear opinions, thoughts and feelings;
*establish rapport and build relationship;
*stimulate discussion; and
Open-ended questions inspire conversation. Using the words who, what, when, where, how or why at the beginning of every question jumpstarts a conversation and allows us to learn more about our customer, our prospect, our provider.
However, for a reason I have yet to discover (and if you know where I can find out, please let me know) human beings have a natural inclination to ask close-ended questions, the ones that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. While close-ended questions are valuable in certain situations, when our aim is to build relationship and gather information, they are, well … useless.
“So, can we schedule a meeting to continue our discussion?” “No.”
“Are you able to finalize that order with me today?” “No.”
“May I speak to your supervisor?” “No.”
In each of these scenarios, the person asking the question doesn’t learn anything. Instead they create a conversational dead end.
But for many of us, creating open-ended questions during a conversation is not straightforward or simple. We know we want to ask them, but once the conversation is in full swing, we stay in our close-ended comfort zone.
Enter the power of “or”.
“So, can we schedule a meeting to continue our discussion, or ….”
“Are you able to finalize that order with me today, or … .”
“May I speak to your supervisor, or … .”
This works because we are all inclined to finish thoughts, to complete sentences. “Or” serves as an invitation to speak and the majority of the time, the invitation is accepted.
“A meeting doesn’t work for me this month, but let’s schedule a phone conference for early February.”
“I need a P.O. number to finalize the order and I should have that by tomorrow morning.”
“My supervisor is unavailable at the moment.”
While I do believe it is important to use a wide variety of open-ended questions (more on this in future posts), using the word “or” gives you the power to inspire conversation with minimal effort.
Want to learn more about effective telephone communication. Here’s some options:
PhoneWork: The Art (and Science) of Effective Telephone Communication
There are 3 spots left in this course that takes place three Thursday evenings (January 24 to February 7) at NSCC, Institute of Technology Campus, Halifax
From telephone interviews to conference calls, from customer service to market research, from booking appointments to closing sales, the telephone is an essential business tool. Using it effectively requires specific listening, interviewing and speaking skills. Regardless if you are a business owner, an employee, or someone looking for a new job, this course provides you with everything you need to banish phone fear and become phone fabulous!
All the information, including registration, is here: http://www.nscc.ca/learning_programs/coned/Course.aspx?I=690
Grow Your Business
Wednesday January 30, 10 am until noon, Halifax
This monthly prospecting practice, in conjuction with The Hub Halifax – 1673 Barrington Street, brings together like-minded entrepreneurs who want to perfect their telephone skills and attract more customers. To register click here http://www.thephonelady.ca/rsvp/ Call me at 902-404-3290 or email me for more details.
Exceed Your Quota: Get More Appointments – Close More Sales!
Wednesday March 13, 9 am to 4 pm, Halifax
Peter Skakum of Tangent Strategies joins me for this powerful workshop at Ashburn Golf Club. We’ll show you how to confirm more meetings and leave those meetings with new customers and new orders. Download the course description, learn more details and register here: http://www.thephonelady.ca/registration/