Creating a great connection is a skill that will transform the success of your sales process. It begins with something as simple as answering the phone. We at ALL Strategy have the privilege of working with business leaders across North America, which means, we spend a LOT of time on the telephone. What is notable to us, as experts in connecting across this medium, is how difficult it is for so many professionals to create a connection over the phone. It is out of this observation, that we as a team decided this article must be written: because we are literally hearing your business losing money when we hear how you miss the opportunity to create a great connection across the telephone.
Creating a connection needs to start with your attitude. When your phone rings, if you are too preoccupied, our advice is simply don’t answer it. It is better to send a prospect, or client or potential referral source to your voicemail than it is to make them feel that their call is an intrusion or disruption to your day. If you are skeptical about who it is that is calling or why they want to reach you, instead of sounding suspicious and tentative, we would encourage you to sound curious and interested. If the caller turns out to be someone you would rather not connect with, you can easily end the call with a gracious “no thank you” or “could you please call back at another time”. By sounding curious and interested at the outset of the call, you have protected your reputation in case the person on the other end of the line is someone who can support your business in some meaningful way. So the attitude shift needs to go from one of being inconvenienced to one of being curiously engaged.
Creating a connection needs to involve a lot of questions. When you ask open ended questions to the person on the other end of the phone, you are able to better understand them and their needs. Asking questions feels relational and shows interest and care. Mondays are great days to ask about a caller’s weekend activities, or Fridays about their weekend plans – even if that has nothing to do with the call, it shows that you are taking the time to engage.
Creating a connection needs to include a smile. Did you know you can hear someone smiling? Try saying “Hi, how are you today?” with a smile on your face. Now try saying it with a straight face. Do you hear how it sounds different? A smile makes an audible difference in your tone…and the person you are speaking with can only hear your tone and your words. Allow your smile to transform your tone – and then even a “no thank you” or “can I call you back later” becomes a pleasurable experience for the person with whom you are speaking.
Creating a connection needs to include a conclusive action item. The end of a call is as important as the beginning. If someone calls with a purpose, they have the hope of an outcome – whether you are the one calling or receiving that call. So if the other person on the call is not driving this result, regardless of who called whom, if you drive the action item, you will solidify the connection and leave a favourable impression on that new potential referral source for your business. An action item might be agreeing who will call whom next, reiterating email follow up commitments, solidifying a meeting date and time, or a verbal commitment to pursue an activity discussed on the call.
The simple summary to this advice is to create a connection, be curiously engaged in the person you are speaking with. A smile and communicating a conclusive action item at the end of your call will transform your telephone experience and the results you yield from each dial tone.