You Had Me At Hello

January 13, 2008 at 2:42 pm | Posted in sales, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment

It must be the start of the New Year when sales professionals hit the ground with all of their (renewed) enthusiasm and energy for cold calling and reconnecting with their dormant accounts.

I sure have received my fair share this past week or so. Some have been great reconnects and I was happy to have showed up in the sales rep’s CRM system.

Others have been….well, a total turn-off.

It’s a fact of life for almost every sales professional that a large portion of business is conducted over the telephone. Unfortunately, without the ability to gauge body language and other visual cues, as well as not being able to have eye contact, it can certainly be a challenge to engage a potential or even a current customer over the phone.

You’re certainly not alone if you dread making customer calls. Practically every salesperson has had their fair share of unproductive phone conversations. But, this post isn’t all doom and gloom- quite the contrary. Rather, the good news is that there are simple techniques that you can use to greatly improve your chances of grabbing a lead or customer’s attention and hopefully making a sale – all with a telephone call. Pardon the pun, but here’s the “411” on successful business telephone communication:

Your hello is the handshake that starts the dialogue.

People will make up their minds about the rest of the conversation within the first few seconds based upon your tone, manner, and inflection. Perhaps, you can change their impression, but isn’t it simply easier to make a good impression right from the beginning?

Plan what you’ll say before you make the call.

Don’t dial that phone number until you are certain about why you are calling and how you will say it. Nothing is more embarrassing and less professional than getting “brain freeze” just when someone picks up their phone. Don’t start the conversation sounding unprepared. If necessary, sketch out what you want to say before you call to help you through the process. (I actually received one call in which the salesperson forgot who they were calling. Things didn’t start out quite so pleasantly when they addressed me as “Karen”.)

Recognize the need to control the dialogue.

You’re the one making the call. Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t expect the person on the other end of the line to do the work for you.

Have a fallback position.

Not every phone conversation will go the way you want it. That’s ok. But, make sure that you are prepared to gracefully change the direction of your conversation, if necessary.

Smile, smile, smile.

Don’t discount the importance of smiling while speaking on the phone. Your enthusiasm will come through, and you simply can’t sound bored or disengaged if you are smiling. (Several of the reps that I spoke to sounded downright angry…or maybe just disinterested. Regardless, their lack of enthusiasm certainly didn’t do anything to get my juices flowing).

Happy dialing.


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