There’s no doubt that the value of phone conversations is steadily gaining recognition by CEOs, managers and entrepreneurs. Companies large and small are realizing that talking to customers and prospects on the phone builds stronger relationships, reveals opportunities and directly supports increased revenue.
So, if email has been your “go to” means of communication for several years now, or if you’ve never spent much time talking on the phone, what should you do to get started?
1. Acknowledge that talking on the phone is a skill. In fact, talking on the phone has a lot in common with public speaking, except you can’t see your audience and you are often being recorded. Like any skill, becoming an effective communicator on the phone is going to take time and practice.
2. It is highly unlikely that you would stand up in front of a room of people and give a speech, even a short one, without some preparation. The same holds true for phone conversations. Before you dial, make sure you are clear on the purpose of your call. There’s tremendous benefit in having your key points written down ahead of time, even in point form on a scrap piece of paper. This way, you won’t start to ramble and lose focus during the conversation.
3. Practice – a lot – just as you would a speech. Start by having phone conversations with family and friends. If it’s been awhile since you’ve enjoyed a phone conversation – or perhaps you never have – then start by calling someone you know well, but haven’t talked to recently. I give this advice to many young entrepreneurs and the results are always astounding. Very quickly they recognize that phone conversations are more interesting and more efficient than text or email – and that they actually enjoy them.
4. Get rid of distractions before you dial. Effective phone communication demands your full attention. Sorting email, scrolling through social media or shuffling paper interrupt the flow of any conversation and can create awkward silences and misunderstandings.
5. Ask open-ended questions. This is the key to great conversation whether you are on the phone or face-to-face. You want to ask questions that prompt your friend, customer or prospect to share information. Use questions that start with who, when, where, what, how or why. For some reason, we don’t automatically ask such questions so to be more successful on the phone, craft open-ended questions ahead of time. In fact, continually craft these questions and keep a list handy. Creating great conversations is directly related to your ability to ask open-ended questions.
How do you make your phone conversations effective? I’d be honoured to include your tips through the comment section below.
Enjoy your phone work everyone!