It was January 2006 when I officially launched “The Phone Lady” brand. At that time, about 80% of my work was with sales teams, giving them the skills and confidence to pick up the phone and inspire great conversations.
This work soon began to include customer service skills, how to use the phone as a job search tool, and tips for banishing phone anxiety. There have been years when sales communication was less than 50% of my revenue.
But not in 2022! The power of proactive calling was fully embraced by my clients this year. I’ve learned a lot about a wide range of industries and shared hundreds of “light bulb” moments as team members have overcome fears, practiced skills, enjoyed amazing conversations, and increased revenue.
As I think back on all of this training and all of the calls I’ve audited, one skill stands out as the trickiest to perfect. And it’s not only valuable for business communication. It will support relaxed and interesting conversations with family and friends this holiday season.
What is this “tricky” skill? And are you already using it in your conversations?
One of the mainstays of proactive calling is creating and working with a script. When someone is making these calls for the first time, this script is vital. It gives them, in writing, everything they need to say. It can be compared to having sheet music when learning to play an instrument, or a recipe when creating a new dessert.
Ideally, this detailed script is soon replaced by point-form reminders. This allows the caller to fully bring their enthusiasm, energy and knowledge to their conversations while making sure they don’t forget any important or vital information.
The challenge, with a script or without, is creating the balance between sharing valuable information and creating conversation.
What’s necessary, close to the beginning of the call, is … a pause.
Many individuals involved in proactive calling, especially those new to the role, seem to take a deep breath as soon as the client/prospect says “hello” and then say everything they need to say, almost in one long sentence.
When this happens, the client/prospect inevitably says something like “Where are you calling from?” or “What did you say your name was?” They are still back at the very beginning of the call. This complicates the conversation, making it both less effective and efficient.
What’s necessary is a pause. Not a long one. You want to share your opening statement and ask your open-ended question but you also want to bring the client/prospect into conversation with you.
“Hi prospect, this is Mary Jane calling from The Phone Lady and the reason I’m calling relates to your outbound sales team.” (Pause – perhaps count to 6 or 8.)
At this point, the prospect might say “Hi, Mary Jane” or “I’ve heard of The Phone Lady” or “What about my sales team?” For the most part, it doesn’t really matter what they say. The fact that they’ve responded means they’ve entered into the conversation with me and they are listening. Now I can proceed with the rest of my information.
This is difficult because callers worry that when they stop talking, the client/prospect will give them a quick “no” or worse, hang up. And this can happen if you are randomly calling individuals who cannot possibly benefit from your product or service. (Take, for example, the individuals that continue to call me about small business funding for U.S. companies.)
But when you create an opening that sparks curiosity and relates directly to their business, the pause is what welcomes them into their conversation with you. And a conversation is the beginning of trust and of building lasting relationships.
And speaking of pause … I’m writing this on December 17, 2022. While last week contained some very long days, the week ahead looks a lot more relaxed, and then my favorite pause will arrive – the holiday season. No matter how you celebrate this last week of December and welcome in 2023, I hope you take the time to rest, relax and rejuvenate. That’s what I’ll be doing supported by the necessary “Out of Office” messages on both email and voicemail.
I’m pleased to say that 2022 has been a bit of a record for The Phone Lady with revenue up 22% and net profit up 57%. (It does help to work from home!) It’s my privilege to share this with others, especially at this time of year. Donations have been made to:
- Feed Nova Scotia which collects and distributes more than three million kilograms of food annually to 140 member food banks, meal programs, and shelters across the province. This equates to over $1 million worth of food each month.
- Red Bear Healing Home and its program Red Bear Connects – Free Voicemail. It provides those in need a personal phone number with voicemail, allowing them to receive messages from landlords, potential employers, physicians, etc. This year they have also been collecting old cell phones, refurbishing them and providing them to clients for free.
Wishing you all a lovely holiday season. I’ll be back on January 1st to carry on the One Word tradition. Hope you’ll join then and share your One Word!